Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Late Night Fire Torches 4 Businesses at State and Cermak

Fire damage at four businesses at Cermak and State (via Chicago Tribune)
Unfortunately it appears that another large fire has destroyed more restaurants in the South Loop.  According to the Tribune:
Tusain Collins stood outside the South Loop restaurant where he works, watching firefighters put out an extra-alarm fire that tore through his restaurant and three other businesses. 
"It's really a big disappointment this is happening at a time like this," he said. 
Collins said his stepmother, the cook for the Jamaican Jerk Villa, was inside prepping for New Year's catering orders when the fire started. He said his stepmother was not hurt but appeared in shock while she sat in an ambulance.  
"I'm happy that she's OK," he said. "We're grateful for that."  
The fire started around 2:50 a.m. in a building housing two other restaurants and a cellphone store on the northeast corner of State Street and Cermak Road, fire officials said.
In case you forgot, just a couple of weeks ago a fire badly damaged the popular Chicago Firehouse steakhouse at 14th and Michigan.

Best of luck to these businesses as they hopefully bounce back.

(Hat tip: DN & ND!)

Sloopin's Top Trends in 2014:
Civic Projects and Improvements Everywhere

It's the last day of 2014 and to close it out we thought we would spend some time reflecting on some of the most lasting things that happened or are going to happen in the coming years.

Monday it was beer!  Tuesday it was real estate.  Today, December 31st, were focusing on the amazing amount of civic projects that happened or were announced this year.

CTA Green Line (via yochicago)
We've spent a lot of time and digital ink on Motor Row and the city's grand plans for this area.  While it's still mostly talk, there finally was some action.

The biggest thing that happened was the construction of the Green Line CTA station at Cermak.  While it was supposed to open in 2014, it's been slightly delayed and is now looking like 2015.  However, it's nearly complete.

The other big news is that McPier, DePaul and the city of Chicago are moving forward with their grand development plans to build a new arena (and also hotels and shops).

And while construction hasn't officially begun on the arena, many of the necessary pieces that need to happen have.  One Lakeside bank closed at the corner of Cermak and Indiana to make way for this development.  The historic Harriet Rees house was also dramatically moved north to make way for the arena:

Needless to say, things are happening down around Motor Row.  Will it be enough to really make this area an "entertainment district"?  Time will tell.

Continuing east towards the lake one of the biggest civic announcements in the city was when George Lucas chose Chicago to house his narrative arts museum.  Debate has raged around this museum (is it a Star Wars museum?), it's location (is it worthy of museum campus?) and it's bold designs (the white mountain?).  While it's not quite a done deal, it is a big project that could make a major impact on the neighborhood for generations.

One of the biggest positives we took from the George Lucas announcement is that the proposed plan would provide a pedestrian bridge of some variety at 18th street to Northerly Island.  Famed Chicago architect/designer Jeanne Gang is being tasked for this aspect of the project (which is also something to get excited about).

Speaking of which, phase 1 of the the Northerly Island transformation was completed and opened in 2014 and judging by the side-by-side picture below all we can say is WOW:

There are even bigger plans for Northerly Island in the future, but to us they seem slightly unrealistic.  If they did ever happen we would be doing a double WOW.
The other interesting thing that all the George Lucas Museum conversation sparked was a call from Mayor Emmanuel to rethink transportation to/from Museum Campus.  While nothing has been decided, at least there is some brain power being devoted to this problem.  

Moving up from Museum Campus,  Roosevelt Road and Grant Park also saw some love in 2014.  Roosevelt Road is being reconfigured to have the city's first raised bike lane.  While we're all for progress and forward thinking, we're slightly skeptical to see how this affects vehicular traffic on the already busy road.  

In Grant Park a uninspiring, overlooked grassy field was transformed in 2014 to state of the art skate park and grassy amphitheater.  While the amphitheater is still a work in progress, the skate park opened a couple of weeks ago and when we checked in was buzzing with energy

While that might seem like a lot going on, believe it or not there was more.  

The Fred Anderson Park/Dog Park opened at 16th and Wabash.  The Harrison Red Line CTA Station got a facelift.  The busy pedestrian intersection at 14th and Wabash got a light.  We learned that 18th street bridge is going to be closed for 4 months for repairs.  Harrison street got protected bike lanes.

We're probably missing something, but as you can see there were a ton of improvements to the neighborhood in 2014.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sloopin's Top Trends in 2014:
Real Estate Building Boom Bounces Back

2014 is almost donzo and with that we thought it would be fitting to reflect on the year that was. 
We've taken a look at Google Analytics site traffic, reviewed some of our most buzz worthy posts as well as taken stock based on conversations we've had with various people and over the next three days we will reflect.

Yesterday it was BEER!  Today it's buildings.

For better or worse the Sloop was the poster child of the height and low of the real estate bubble.

While some remain sheepish on the state of the South Loop real estate market, we feel that the neighborhood is still well positioned for growth (as do other professionals).  Why?  It's quite simple.

The neighborhoods qualities are very appealing.  Centrally located.  Easy commute to Loop.  Good public transportation access and options.  Access to major expressways.  Proximity to lake, museums, Grant Park and some of the best Chicago has to offer.  A growing restaurant, bar and shopping scene, etc.  Anyway, you've heard all of this here before.

Rendering of 15 story high-rise at 1345 S. Wabash
With all of that said, it probably comes as no surprise that developers are back investing in the neighborhood at what seems to be a feverish pace.

The building that's furtherest along is the new condo building at 1345 S. Wabash.  CMK properties which has a history in the neighborhood is the developer for this.  The high-rise is 15 stories and has already topped out.  Unit delivery is expected in early 2015.

2014 also marked the delivery of another AMLI rental project at the southwest corner of Polk and Clark.

Just slightly south of this project at 1000 S. Clark, construction has commenced for a 29-story rental high-rise by JDL.  Needless to say there are a lot of rental units that will be available on south Clark (hopefully this also means a more lively retail street-scape).  

A couple blocks east, Golub and Partners have finally received permits at 1001 S. State and have begun site prep to construct a 40 story condo apartment building.  We're unsure about a delivery date for this project, but seems like 2016 is most realistic.
Proposed 40 Story condo building at 1001 S. State

While these are some of the bigger/newer projects that are underway there were a smattering of smaller scale real estate things going on.  Aviation lofts officially opened at 1340 S. Michigan.  As a reminder this was an old courthouse that was converted to rental lofts.  Just across the street at 1323 S. Michigan it was also announced that an old, vacant 7 story building would be converted into rentals.

Not everything was apartments and condos as it was announced that some new townhouses would be coming to Prairie Avenue where the failed X/O high-rise was once planned.

Further south it looks like the CHA is seeking bids to build mixed income housing on the former land of the infamous Ickes Homes.  This is in the early stages of planning, so we would imagine this won't be delivered until after 2015.  Nonetheless it will probably be a pretty big deal when it moves forward.

In the same vicinity it was announced that "low cost" rental apartments would be coming to 2001 S. State and 2000 S. Wabash.  Also a 5 story residential building would be built at 1920 S. Wabash.

If you've made it this far in the post you're probably realizing that there is a lot of real estate building/conversion activity happening in the Sloop.  We probably even missed some items and rumors (like the Roosevelt Collection rental tower that's being talked about or "The Chicago" high rise at Michigan and Roosevelt).

Needless to say all this activity is tough to keep up with.  Stay tuned, 2015 should be interesting...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sloopin's Top Trends in 2014: Beer Making and Drinking

Vice District Beer Flight Sampler
2014 is almost donzo and with that we thought it would be fitting to reflect on the year that was.

We've taken a look at Google Analytics site traffic, reviewed some of our most buzz worthy posts as well as taken stock based on conversations we've had with various people and over the next three days we will reflect.

First up is near and dear to our hearts and it's BEER!

Vice District Brewery
2014 was the first year that saw a local brewery officially open up their doors.  While Vice District Brewery (1454 S. Michigan) might have not been the first brewery to announce their intentions to open up in the neighborhood, they were the first to officially open back in August.

We recently stopped in and felt obligated to try out all of their brews.  We opted for the flight sampler which consisted of all the beers they brew (see pic above) - Habitual (Dark Cascadian Ale), Everleigh (English Style Special Bitter), South Town Small (Porter), Pleasure Trip (Blonde Ale), Initiation (IPA).  Our favorite was the South Town Small.

Overall Vice is a good addition to the neighborhood on many levels.  First it's a pretty laid back place.  You won't be intimidated and better yet you don't need to be a beer snob to fit in here.  While it's not a sports bar, they do have TVs so you can catch that nights main game if desired.  They don't serve food, but do allow you to carry-in (which we did with Kurah and it worked out well).

Motor Row Brewery
In other Brewery news, it sounds like Motor Row Brewery (formerly Broad Shoulders) is finally getting ready to open up shop supposedly in January of 2015.  It's been a slow go for them (we've been talking about them since 2011), but we can attest that their beer is solid.  Hopefully it's worth the wait.  While the Motor Row entertainment district has been mostly talk to date, this brewery could go a long way to helping it gain some traction.  Only time will tell on that front.

It was also recently reported that Baderbrau, a defunct but now reimagined craft beer from the 1980s, would be opening up a brewing facility and tasting room at 2515 S. Wabash.  While we consider this south of the South Loop (afterall it's south of the Stevenson highway), it's still very close to the neighborhood and should be a good addition for beer lovers.  It seems like they have some serious cash behind their operation, so hopefully it's legit.

South Loop Brewing Company
Not to be outdone, South Loop Brewing Company, a group of local home-brewers with dreams to open up their own facility exceeded their crowdfunding goal of $15K.  We haven't heard much from them recently, but according to their twitter handle they are shooting to open in early 2015.  Last we heard they wouldn't be opening up in the South Loop though.

The South Loop Craft Beer Revolution?
Obviously there was a lot of brewing news going on in the neighborhood.  Popular blog, Chicagoist even discussed the neighborhoods "craft beer revolution" back in July and asked the question:
Is the South Loop Chicago’s latest beer destination? 

And let's not forget that beer making isn't the only thing that is important.  Simply having new places to drink it is important as well.  Villain's, the popular Printer's Row bar with a noteworthy beer menu that closed in 2012, is rebooting on South Clark street.  While it appeared that they were ready to open this fall, they have apparently run into some delays.  However, when they open many beer aficionados will rejoice.

Burger Bar and Aurellio's are also opening up in 2015 at Roosevelt and Michigan and both should have a good beer menu (or at least are claiming that they will).

So if you like drinking local beer, it seems like you were probably pretty happy about some of these developments in 2014.  Cheers to that and to the future!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Shots Around the Sloop: Selective Highrises

Apparently they could only afford the graphic package with Michigan Ave. South Loop high-rises:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Recently on the Sloopin Message Board...

Have a random South Loop question you've been contemplating?  Need feedback from South Loop parents?  Curious about some masonry work going on?  We've got the place for you to find and/or start a conversation - the Sloopin Message Board!

Here are some of the recent topics/conversation that have happened over the last month:

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Blues Trail Gets a Spot in Grant Park

Upon our recent trip to checkout the new skate park and grassy "amphitheater" at Grant Park, just north of Roosevelt, we noticed a placard that is either new or we've never noticed before (see image on the right).

As many people know, Chicago is known for the blues and this sign pays homage to this phenomenon:
The “Great Migration” from the South to “the Promised Land” of Chicago brought more African Americans here from Mississippi than any other state, especially during and after World War II. With the migrants came the Delta blues that was the foundation of the classic postwar Chicago blues style. Muddy Waters, who became the king of Chicago blues, was among the thousands of Mississippians who arrived on Illinois Central trains at Central Station, which stood across the street from this site from 1893 to 1974.

Upon doing some more digging on our end we went to this website and it has some more information for those interested in blues history:
Robert Johnson never moved to the place he praised in his song "Sweet Home Chicago," but his sentiments were shared by thousands of fellow Mississippi natives who came here in search of a better life. In "Chicago Bound," bluesman Jimmy Rogers called the city "the greatest place around," and in "Chicago Blues," Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup deemed it "the greatest place on earth." Many migrants traveled north on the Illinois Central (IC) via its extensive lines that spread across the Deep South, including eight hundred miles of IC-owned Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad track that criss-crossed the Mississippi Delta. Pullman porters on IC trains to Mississippi often delivered copies of the African-American newspaper, the Chicago Defender, which organized "migrant clubs" and arranged group discounts for train fare northward. The first wave of the "Great Migration" began with World War I, and between 1910 and 1920 the number of black Chicagoans who were born in Mississippi increased from 4,612 to 19,485.  
The rise of the blues recording industry in Chicago attracted many musicians, and during the 1930s, blues artists here who claimed Mississippi roots included Willie Dixon, Memphis Minnie, Lil Green, and big Bill Broonzy. During World War II the need for factory labor helped fuel a larger wave of migration, and between 1940 and 1950 some 150,000 Mississippians moved here. Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Sunnyland Slim, Emore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, No. 2 (Rice Miller), Otis Rush, and Magic Sam were among the many who arrived in the 1940s and '50s and found recording opportunities with Chess, Vee-Jay (co-founded by Mississippi native Vivian Carter), Cobra, and other labels. Blues clubs proliferated on the South and West sides, and Chicago's airwaves also took on a down-home Mississippi flavor on programs hosted by Pervis Spann of WVON and Al Benson of WGES, who earned the honorary title "Mayor of Bronzeville" as the South Side's most popular personality. Local labels Delmark and Testament began recording blues albums in chicago for a new generation of listeners in the 1960s, paving the way for other companies such as Alligator and Earwig. Albums by Mississippi-born bluesmen Big Joe Williams, Jimmy Dawkins, Carey Bell, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Walter Horton, Eddy Clearwater, Eddie Shaw, Magic Slim, Fenton Robinson, Eddie C. Campbell, and Hound Dog Taylor brought their music to world-wide attention. Foreign tourists made Chicago a musical destination, and the local blues audience adopted "Sweet Home Chicago" as its theme song as the blues expanded to the North Side, the suburbs and here to Grant Park, where the world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival debuted in 1984.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tribune Talks to South Loop Fashion Artist, Nick Cave About Being Bold (or Maybe Fearlessness)

We don't know a ton about high fashion (let alone fashion in general), but it's always nice to hear about well regarded, interesting people in the neighborhood.

With that said, artist/fashion guru and South Loop resident Nick Cave was recently profiled in a fun read in the Tribune:
The day outside of Nick Cave's home in the South Loop was so forlorn you felt sorry for it. The sky was the color of mop water; the parking lot across the street — large, empty and evocative of nothing so much as nowhere — was especially drab. Cave did not stand out, either: He wore brown high-tops, a black sweatshirt and, above his sea-captain beard, a dark winter cap. He took a seat at his dining room table and gestured for me to sit. Music from the nail salon on the ground floor of his building wafted faintly into the room. He waited me for to say something and so I said: 
"You're a bold guy." 
"Boldness?" he asked. "I have?" 
"Yeah," I said. "They said you were thinking about it..." 
"Oh," he said, trying to remember. 
"How to be bold," I said, offering help, "how to act boldly, how to dress boldly, how to seize boldly on a good idea. I'm not quite sure why 'boldness.' Perhaps because your work is bold — do you see yourself as bold?" 
"No," he said, thinking. 
"I prefer fearlessness to boldness," he said at last.
If you recall, we've posted about Cave before as he had a pop-up store in Motor Row (23rd and Michigan) back in 2010.  If you're curious here is a mesmerizing youtube video from Cave's Soundsuits at the Denver Art Museum:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Teatro ZinZanni Finally Moving Forward With Motor Row Location?

A reader writes:
Hi Sloopy, 
I heard a rumor that Teatro ZinZanni is moving in near the new cermak green line. They are a Really fun adult theater vaudeville show. I know they have an outpost in Seattle. Not sure which building they're moving too, but I heard they have a 5yr lease and doing a million dollar build out.
While we haven't heard anything lately on ZinZanni, it is something that we've posted about before.  Back in February of 2013 we read and linked to a post in the Tribune talking about Chicago's "cultural mile" and how Motor Row (and entertainment businesses like ZinZanni) would be a great culmination and link to McCormick Place.

On the other hand, the Tribune article also talked about the Cheap Trick museum that last we heard was a no go for Motor Row.

Anyway, definitely would be a nice addition to the Motor Row entertainment district if this is true.

For those not familiar, here is a youtube video

(Hat tip:  KL!)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Could Recent Round of Coring Samples at 817 S. Well Mean Development is Imminent?

A reader writes:
Looks like they are doing coring samples at 817 S Wells. Anyone know if this property was purchased?

Anyone have any clue on this property?

Back in February we had a similar post and at the time their was a rumor of mixed use residential project coming to the space.  Another reader was complaining about potentially losing a parking lot.

Anyway, it's probably just a matter of time until this lot and some of the other vacant ones (see post about lot south of River City getting acquired) in this area of Sloop get developed.

(Hat tip:  MM!)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Meet Dr. Freud, 2-year-old Male Shepherd Mix

Sloopin is proud to work with The Anti-Cruelty Society and the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center (EAC) in the South Loop (1101 S. Canal) to help bring awareness to their adoption program.  Every month we will be posting about a local animal who could use a home.

This week please meet Dr. Freud:
Isn't Dr. Freud the most handsome guy you've ever seen? Coming all the way from Knoxville, TN to seek out his forever home here in Chicago, Dr. Freud is an active guy with a huge heart. Adopters should have a strong exercise plan to allow a productive expense of energy, while making sure he has plenty of time for cuddles and kisses. Though he is one big love bug, Dr. Freud also loves to explore and will require some initial monitoring to make sure he doesn't find himself any mischief. Initially weary of other dogs, Dr. Freud might be better suited in a single dog home-though his hesitation has the potential to subside. If you're looking for an active yet loving companion, Dr. Freud is definitely the dude for you!
The Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization, opened up the South Loop satellite location in 2013! So far they have adopted close to an impressive 1,000 cat, dogs, puppies and kittens.

The EAC has room for 42 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. The 2,075 square foot facility includes kennels for dogs of all sizes, a cat adoption center, play areas for dogs waiting to find a home and an area for adopters and pets to hold meet-and-greets. More info on the EAC and the animals available can be found here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Baderbrau Brewery Renderings for 2515 S. Wabash

For those interested in the Baderbrau story that we posted this morning, there are also some renderings of what the space will look like (via their Facebook page):
(Hat tip:  MRM!)

Baderbrau to Open Brewing Facility at 2515 S. Wabash

We've been hearing whispers about another brewery opening up in the South Loop and apparently that brewery is Baderbrau, the left for dead Chicago Pilsner that is being revived by a couple of home brewers.

Before we get too far, many Sloopers will probably roll their eyes when they hear that this brewery is claiming the South Loop.  Afterall, they will be open up their doors at 2515 S. Wabash which is SOUTH OF THE STEVENSON (aka 55).  Definitely is a stretch to claim the South Loop, but nonetheless it's pretty damn close to our hood and is definitely worth our support.

The Tribune has some more background:
Breweries are opening at a frantic clip in Chicago, but none has quite the story behind it as Baderbrau — and that story will come full circle with the opening of a 25,000-square-foot brewery in the South Loop in 2015.
The tale began in 1989 when a former Chicago police officer launched Pavichevich Brewing Co. in Elmhurst. The flagship beer was Baderbrau, a Czech-style Pilsner that quickly became the city's go-to locally-made beer. At least it was the go-to beer for Rob Sama, who was then a philosophy undergrad at the University of Chicago.
The Chicago brewery scene was close to nonexistent in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There were a handful of brewpubs — including a young Goose Island — but for fresh bottled beer made in Chicago, Baderbrau was a cult star. 
Beer historian Michael Jackson even called the beer "the best Pilsner I've ever tasted in America."

"Every beer was the same swill," Sama said. "Baderbrau was beer with some bitterness and body to it, and completely different." 
Pavichevich Brewing went into bankruptcy in 1997. Goose Island wound up with the Baderbrau brand and won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for it in 1998. But Goose soon phased out Baderbrau, and the brand was seemingly left for the city's historical dustbin. 
Fast-forward to 2010. 
Sama was married with a young child, working as a financial analyst and home brewing on weekends. He was exchanging messages with his old college roommate and brewing partner and wondered what had become of Baderbrau. He looked up the domain and learned it was available.

Anyway, nice to see some more high-profile activity announce their intention to open up close to Motor Row.  We've had their beers, but are looking forward to seeing their facility.

If you're counting, this is the fourth announced brewery in the area.  Vice District Brewery was the first to officially open in the fall this year.  Motor Row Brewery (formerly known as Broad Shoulders Brewing) has had a slow go at their build-out at 2337 S. Michigan.  South Loop Brewing is currently contract brewing outside of the Sloop, but has dreams of one day opening up a brewery in the are.

All good news and good signs for beer drinkers in the Sloop!

UPDATE:  Apparently Motor Row Brewery is planning on opening in January (DNAinfo):
A new brewery is getting ready to open in the South Loop next month, city officials said. 
Motor Row Brewing will open in the historic Motor Row in January. The former Federal Motor Car Co. showroom is being redeveloped as part of a $2.7 million project to convert the former showroom into a brewery. 
The 8,700-square-foot facility at 2337 S. Michigan Ave. will include brewing operations, distribution space and a full taproom that will open in January.

(Hat tip: JB!)

Regus Group and Mago Grill & Cantina Sign Lease at Roosevelt Collection

Crain's had a recent and small blurb about two new tenants that signed leases at Roosevelt Collection.

First is Mago Grill & Cantina (which we noticed back in November) and the second is Regus:
Dallas-based Regus Group leased 17,000 square feet of second-floor space in the property at Roosevelt Road and Wells Street, a spokeswoman for the company confirmed.

We've heard the name of Regus, but don't know much about them.  According to wikipedia:
Regus plc is a multinational corporation that provides serviced office accommodation in business centres. As of 4 April 2014, it operated 1,800 business centres across 100 countries.
(Hat tip:  TO!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

South Loop Clocks in as the 2 Seed for the 2014 Curbed Cup; First Round Match-up Against Bridgeport

If you're interested in bragging rights and would like to help the Sloop, head on over to Curbed Chicago to vote for the South Loop in the 2014 Curbed Cup competition.

The Sloop is the 2 seed and facing off against our venerable South Side brethren in Bridgeport.  Vote early and vote often!

For those keeping track the seeding is as follows:

  1. The Loop
  2. South Loop
  3. Lakeview
  4. West Loop
  5. Streeterville
  6. Lincoln Square
  7. Albany Park
  8. Andersonville
  9. Logan Square
  10. Humbolt Park
  11. Pilsen
  12. North Center
  13. Uptown
  14. Hyde Park
  15. Bridgeport
  16. Morgan Park

A Historical Look at Ferdinand Wythe Peck, a South Loop Resident and Driving Force Behind the Auditorium Building

Ferdinand Wythe Peck's Home at 1826 S. Michigan
There has been a good amount of press about the well regarded Auditorium Theater and it's 125th anniversary.

The Sloop's historic Glessner Home used this occasion to do a blog post about an old South Loop resident who was instrumental in building the Auditorium theater:
Tuesday December 9, 2014, marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. Much has been written about the Auditorium Building, its magnificent theater, the architects Adler & Sullivan who designed it, and its importance in the history of American architecture. In this article, the 200th published to our blog since we began in January 2011, we shall look at the home of Ferdinand Wythe Peck, the driving force behind this monumental undertaking.
Later in the post the get to history of how Peck ended up in the area:
As work continued on the Auditorium Building, Peck engaged William LeBaron Jenney to design a new home for him at 1826 S. Michigan Avenue, in the exclusive residential district where many of his board members resided. The imposing structure, faced in Vermont granite, featured a massive four-story square tower over the entrance way at the north end, balanced by a three-story rounded tower to the south. The overall design was Romanesque Revival, later known as Richardsonian Romanesque in honor of its chief practitioner, Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson had three structures underway in Chicago at the time including the Marshall Field Wholesale Store, and large homes for Franklin MacVeagh on North Lake Shore Drive, and the Glessner House at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue.
However, if you go history hunting now, you're going to come up empty handed:
The house fell to the wrecker’s ball two years later, in 1969. Today the site is part of a large townhouse development known as Michigan Avenue Gardens, constructed in 1998. Peck’s house may be gone, but his greatest achievement – the Auditorium – is his lasting and enduring legacy to his beloved city of Chicago.
Anyway a fun read for people who are interested in the history of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Burger Bar Shooting for End of Year Opening? Massage Place Looking to Open in Spring

Picture of Burger Bar Build Out at 1160 S. Michigan
From a reader:
Per Columbian (1160 S Michigan) owners' meeting:
1. We were told Burger Bar reportedly aiming for opening by end of year - electrical meter getting installed soon, they also are negotiating with Columbian about canopies and signage. (Seems like they would need time to do hiring and training? Perhaps they meant they'd start hiring, moving in equipment then?) I'll try to peek inside and get a picture if I can this evening.
2. Massage place in the Columbian's other retail space is looking at March opening. Just starting construction.
Seems aggressive for the Burger Bar, but looking forward to trying them out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Updates From Mayoral Panel Tasked With Improving Access To/From Museum Campus

A bus drives on the private 'busway' through Grant Park next to the 11th Street Metra Stop (via google maps)
Back in the summer, Mayor Emmanuel announced that he was seeking ideas to improve access to and from the Museum Campus.  Crain's has an update from the mayoral panel who is working on this project:
A mayoral panel has recommended some intermediate steps to make it easier to get to the city's Museum Campus, which draws millions of people a year but has little public transit.  
But the group, picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has put off for further study more significant but also much more expensive proposals, such as expanding and better using what now is a private busway between the Loop and McCormick Place and potentially building a rapid line along Cermak Road that would connect the lakefront to the commuter railroad stations. " 
There's a lot of low-hanging fruit here, some things we can do now," Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said in a phone interview. The initial recommendations approved by the city task force "will have some impact," she said, but it's too soon to say if the bigger ideas are feasible.  
Short term, the panel urged the city to expand the Divvy bicycle sharing program in and around the campus and establish a trolley bus service like the one that went to Navy Pier for many years. No cost estimates are available, but officials said such a system briefly operated about a decade ago, and museum chiefs are interested in restoring it.  
The group also gave the green light to: improved pickup and drop-off zones, more cab stands, better traffic management and perhaps establishing a coordinated transit center and welcome center near 18th Street.
While nothing being implemented is a game changer, the idea about better utilizing the "busway" between the Loop and McCormick Place is interesting and could be a big deal:
Longer term, Scheinfeld said the group, which is chaired by Metropolitan Planning Council chief MarySue Barrett and Emanuel's chief operating officer, Joe Deal, is quite interested in expanding use of the private busway that now runs along Metra tracks from Randolph Street to McCormick Place.

The busway is limited to transporting conventioneers but could be extended south to 31st Street, near the proposed new Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. Convention officials have expressed some concern about but "are open to further discussion of this," Scheinfeld said.

The biggest potential fix—but one which likely would cost at least hundreds of millions of dollars—would be to revive a portion of the never-built Central Area Circulator system, which would have provided a light-rail system from Navy Pier and the Near North Side, west to the commuter railroad stations and then east to the lakefront.
Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

(Hat tip: TO!)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aurielo's Now Looking to Open in April; Will Feature Huge 100 Seat Patio

Last we heard, Aurielo's was shooting for a January 2015 opening for their flagship Pizza restaurant at the southwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt.  Now it sounds like it's going to be pushed back slightly longer, but did provide some more details on the project (including the rendering above  - via Eater Chicago):
Management's aiming for an April opening at 1212 S. Michigan Ave., according to a restaurant spokesman. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant will have two levels, 180 seats and an 100-seat outdoor patio. Aurelio's applied for its liquor license and outdoor patio permit on Thursday. Expect an expanded version of a menu familiar to South Siders, as well as more — you guessed it — craft beer selections made available to wash down your slices.
It looks pretty nice and definitely a major upgrade to this prime corner retail space.  It's also slightly comical that the second floor patio will be right in front of the Snap Fitness windows.  Nothing more motivating for people on treadmills, then watching people scarf down pizza.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Get Your Sloopin Hat-Tip T-Shirt!

The new Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-shirts are here and for those of you who have recently submitted tips or published posts you're now officially eligible to get your t-shirt. If you see your initials below, please send an email to to let us know you're going to go to Well Future Pharmacy (1442 S. Michigan) to redeem your shirts:
  • AR
  • SH
  • MK
  • WM
  • GL
  • RV
  • DW
  • JZ
  • MK
  • SN
  • CR
  • GM
  • PB
  • BE
  • TC
  • JG
  • SM
  • SS
  • MK
  • JL
  • JB
  • MK
  • MG
  • MH
  • PB
  • CR
  • RJ
  • SH
  • BR
  • SR
  • JM
  • MP
  • DW
  • KW
  • KM
  • AR
  • MP
  • CD
If this post doesn't mean anything to you and you're like "Wha?!?!? click here for some background on the Sloopin Hat Tip program. 

Thanks again for all the tips, photos, suggestions and whatnot. Without you Sloopin wouldn't exist!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Apartment High-rise at 1001 S. State Officially Moving Forward

Sounds like things are finally moving forward for another high-rise in the Sloop (via Chicago Real Estate Daily):
Rendering of High-rise at 9th and State (via CRED)
Golub & Co. has teamed up with the owner of the Block 37 mixed-use complex to build a 41-story apartment high-rise in the South Loop, joining the pack of developers putting up multifamily towers in the city. 
The joint venture between Chicago-based Golub and Los Angeles-based CIM Group has begun work on the 397-unit project at 1001 S. State St., which will cost about $130 million to build, said Golub President and CEO Michael Newman. The venture is moving forward before lining up a construction loan but is in talks with lenders interested in financing the development and probably will have a loan lined up in the next month or so, he said.
Beyond this confirmation, it was also nice to read about the reason CIM chose this location/project:
As for the South Loop, the neighborhood “possesses the attributes that fit CIM's longstanding investment model, one that focuses on urban districts positioned for economic expansion with solid infrastructure and transportation networks,“ CIM Principal Avi Shemesh said in a statement.
While the building doesn't really leave a lasting impression on us, it's better than a parking lot (IMHO).

We can confirm that equipment is present at the site and looks to be beginning the prep work.

For some background please check-out some older Sloopin posts:

Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon Opens Saturday at Northeastern Corner of Grant Park

Maggie Daily Park (via Chicago Tribune)
To cap off our (impromptu) civic project week coverage here at Sloopin, we're venturing slightly out of the Sloop to the northeastern corner of Grant Park and the new Maggie Daley park.  Yes, it's not in the South Loop but it's definitely close and probably worth a trip if you have kids or like to ice skate.

The Tribune reports:
The public will get its first look at the new Maggie Daley Park when the meandering quarter-mile long ice skating ribbon opens to the public at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Chicago Park District announced.  
The skating ribbon is the first attraction to open at the $55 million downtown park named in honor of Chicago's beloved former first lady who died in 2011. The park stretches from Randolph Street south to Monroe Street and from Columbus Drive east to Lake Shore Drive and is connected by the BP Bridge to Millennium Park.  
Admission to the ice skating ribbon, which slopes and circles around two climbing walls, will be free. There will be a $12 fee to rent skates, just like Millennium Park next door.
As a former hockey player who likes to lace it up occasionally and skate at the Millenium Park ice rink, a quarter mile skating ribbon sounds interesting (even though it seems slightly silly to have two public skating facilities so close to each other).

The article goes on to talk about other components of the park (such as a climbing wall and 120,000 square foot "play garden" for kids) which all sound pretty interesting.  The grand opening of all the entire park is scheduled for Spring 2015.

See you on the skating ribbon!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Checking Out the New Grant Park Skate Park

Continuing our civic project week, we thought we would revisit the recently opened Grant Park Skate Park.  As you may have read, the new Grant Park Skate Park officially opened this past Saturday (12/6).

While the neighborhood sentiment seems to be mixed, we here at Sloopin thought it was a nice addition but were slightly curious to see if/how many people would use it.

As a result, we went by on Sunday (the day after it was officially open) to check out the scene and this is what we found:
Frankly we were pretty surprised to see so many people out there and the level of skill involved.  We assume the good turnout is because it was the second day the park was open, but nonetheless still pretty impressive.
Beyond that the other big question that stood out after watching this for a little bit was who is liable if someone gets hurt here.  We assume there is precedent for things/places like this, but it seems like someone is definitely going to get seriously hurt out here (OK, clearly I'm not a skater and clearly I'm old, but damn this looks dangerous). 
Anyway, after pondering this for a minute we headed to the entrance and found the "rules":
I guess that's enough coverage for the city to prevent liability?  Also, we didn't look that hard, but definitely didn't see many people with helmets on.  To each their own...
Anyway, it's also probably worth posting this entertaining video that was professionally produced for the opening of the park:
Yay for tricks!  Yay for drone camera's providing fun ariel videos!  and yay for young people doing fun and dangerous stuff for our viewing pleasure!  

The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Releases Statement on Fire; Says it Will Rebuild!

Below, please find a statement from The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant.
"Given the unfortunate circumstance of The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant fire on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, we are extremely grateful to report the most significant fact: our co-workers and neighbors are all safe. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant team is family to us, as many have been loyal employees since we opened our doors 15 years ago. The well being of our co-workers and the community continues to be our primary concern. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Chicago Fire and Police Departments. Their tireless effort secured the structure and protected our neighbors. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant has been a cornerstone of the South Loop community, and together we have developed a gathering place that gives us great pride. We are energized by our neighbors and local businesses and sincerely appreciate their concern, support and loyalty. We owe it to our history, our team and our community to preserve this treasured Chicago landmark which will remain a cornerstone of the South Loop neighborhood. Without hesitation or reservation we will rebuild! We have an unwavering commitment to our dedicated employees and all those who have patronized us so faithfully. We look forward to serving you again soon." --Matthew O'Malley, The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Has "Extra-Alarm" Fire

In a developing, ironic and unfortunate story, it sounds like the venerable Chicago Firehouse Restaurant had a serious fire (via Chicago Tribune):
Part of the roof of a well-known South Loop restaurant collapsed during an extra-alarm fire Wednesday morning.

Flames shot through the roof of Chicago Firehouse, 1401 S. Michigan Ave., when a blaze erupted about 10:30 a.m., according to the Chicago Fire Department.

Roofers who were doing repairs “had an accident,’’ said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford who was on the scene.

“Before they could extinguish the fire it got into the building,’’ Langford said.

Everyone inside was able to escape safely but flames were still shooting from the roof as of about 11:10 a.m., Langford said.

We've received a lot of emails from readers with pictures and whatnot.  A reader (SH) sent us a variety of videos and pictures at this link.  Below are some additional pics that people sent:

(Hat tip:  AR, SH, MK, WM, GL, R!)

Sloopin (Michigan Ave) Retail Roundup: Openings & Closings

Walking down Michigan Avenue has exposed some new retail happenings.

If you recall, a couple readers noted that Rock'N'Nails looked to be opening at the southwest corner of Michigan Ave and Cullerton.  We wondered why and how so many nail/saloon places open in our neighborhood (especially on Michigan).  Well apparently they are already open:
In other retail news just up the street, it appears that two other clothing stores are shuttering.  First off is Haus of Reign, which is pretty bare inside and had signs outside saying there was a liquidation sale going on, looks to be closing:

Haus of Reign opened at 1345 S. Michigan in June of 2013.

Up the street at 1317 S. Michigan, Flirtatious Lingerie and Clubwear also appears to be closing and having a liquidation sale as well:

This is also next door to the recently closed kiddie clothing store Put It On at 1319 S. Michigan.

Moral of the story, if you are contemplating opening a business on South Michigan it appears that it will be a rough go if you want to sell clothing.  On the other hand, apparently there is a lot of demand for pampering...

Business counter is updated.

Fred Anderson Park Apparently Opens Just South of 16th and Wabash

Civic project week here at Sloopin continues (FYI this is something we just made up as we're writing this post due to all the projects going on. Monday - 14th and Wabash Stoplight, Tuesday - 18th Street Bridge and Cermak Green Line stop update).

Today, we're posting about the Fred Anderson Park at 16th and Wabash which apparently opened last night (via Fred Anderson Dog Park Facebook page):
OMD, OMD we are so excited !!! Fred Anderson Park and Dog Park are opening tonight !!!
While we're not sure what OMD means (Oh my dog?  Oh my darn? anyone? anyone?), it's nice to see this park opening.

Last we heard the park wasn't going to open until Mid-January 2015 due to a final punch-list inspection that needed to happen.

If the Fred Anderson Dog Park post from Facebook is correct, everything must be good.

If anyone is hearing something different please let us know.

(Hat tip:  DW!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

18th Street Bridge Will Be Closed for 4 Months;
Opening of New CTA Green Line Stop at Cermak Delayed

Well yesterday it was news that a new stop light was being installed at 14th and Wabash.

Today we're writing about a couple things that have been out for awhile, but in case you haven't seen them they're definitely worth noting.

First off, apparently the 18th Street Bridge is going to be closed starting tomorrow for at least 4 months:

In other local civic project news, the much discussed Green line stop at Cermak is definitely taking shape, but it was recently announced that it's opening will be delayed (via redeye):
Workers at Cermak Green Line Stop (via Redeye)
CTA riders won't be getting a new Green Line stop for the holidays.  
The city has pushed back the targeted open date for the new Green Line stop by McCormick Place to early next year, said Pete Scales, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project. In August, Scales said the Green Line stop was expected to be complete at the end of this year.  
At a civic luncheon last week, where CTA President Forrest Claypool discussed transit projects, an audience member asked Claypool when the Cermak station would be ready. He said "late spring."  
Scales blamed the subzero temperatures earlier this year for the delay. Scales also said the construction schedule was adjusted to minimize neighborhood traffic and Green Line disruptions.

There sure seems to be a lot of civic projects happening in the hood.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Traffic Light Apparently Coming to 14th and Wabash

The three way intersection at 14th st and Wabash is apparently getting a traffic light to replace the stop sign.  While we're not exactly sure why this is happening it's probably a mix of things.  During rush hour and big events things get backed up pretty bad at this intersection.  Couple that with the new high-rise that's being built near this intersection and there will probably be more and more traffic.

If you recall one block north many readers complained about how dangerous that intersection was when it was a stop sign.  As you may remember we had a post about someone being hit at 13th and Wabash.  A stop light was put in back in February of 2013.

While we haven't had any posts about the danger of this intersection, we have seen cars blow through it while failing to apparently see the stop sign.