Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Medical Marijuana Dispensary at 500 W. 18th Street Gets Green Light

If you've got medical or "medical" issues and marijuana is the remedy sometime in the near future you may be heading west on 18th street to get your dose (via Chicago Tribune):
A city zoning panel Friday gave a thumbs-up to six more medical marijuana dispensaries in Chicago while denying one proposal and putting off decisions on six others. 
Prospective medical marijuana dealers made their pitches to the Zoning Board of Appeals to set up in various neighborhoods, touting their security and financial plans. The board approved all but one of the applicants who came forward Friday. 
The applicants each will still need to vie for one of a handful of state licenses to open the businesses in Chicago. 
further down in post in regard to locations: 500 W. 18th St., east of the Dan Ryan Expressway between the Pilsen and South Loop neighborhoods
While this isn't a completely done deal, it was a step in that direction.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rentals to Condos A Positive Trend for Sloop Real Estate Market?

1555 S. Wabash - Photo from CoStar Group Inc.
In case you missed this real estate story, this article in Chicago Real Estate Daily points out a positive trend in South Loop real estate:
After renting out a failed South Loop condominium project for two years, a Los Angeles investor has decided the market is strong enough to put the condos back up for sale.  
A venture including Oaktree Capital Management LP that seized the 14-story tower at 1555 S. Wabash Ave. in 2012, after the project landed in bankruptcy, is offering its 141 unsold units to tenants before listing the condos for sale again early next year, according to Chicago-based consulting firm Appraisal Research Counselors.  
Renting condos was a common survival strategy among developers who couldn't sell their units after the bust. With prices rising and buyers returning, some building owners have decided to cash out by putting their units back up for sale.  
The South Loop offering would be the largest number of rented downtown condos in a single building to be put on the market since the crash. Other condo-turned-rental projects that have relaunched sales include Emerald in the West Loop and One Place Condominiums in the South Loop.

In our mind the question remains - is this really a positive sign for the South Loop market?

While we understand the sentiment that developers seeing opportunity could be seen as a positive sign, it also sort of simply seems like a business decision for this LA investor.  They got a steal rescuing this building in bankruptcy and have a good opportunity to turn their investment into more riches.

What do you think?

(Hat tip:  GM!)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Judge Orders City To Not Alter Propose Lucas Museum Site

Site of proposed Lucas Museum (via Chicago Tribune)
From Suntimes:
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the city not to physically alter the proposed site of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art until further order of the court during the opening legal battle between the city and opponents of the museum.  
Friends of the Parks filed suit earlier this month asking a federal judge to stop the proposed construction on the site between McCormick Place and Soldier Field. Filmmaker George Lucas wants to build a state-of-the-art museum there.  
Thomas Geoghegan, a lawyer for the advocacy group, asked U.S. District Judge John Darrah for a preliminary injunction Tuesday. The judge then asked city lawyers if they could guarantee work would not begin before the next court hearing on Feb. 26.  
Darrah even likened the situation to Mayor Richard M. Daley's notorious midnight demolition of Meigs Field.
Seems slightly extreme, but then again so did taking bulldozers and carving "X"s into the Meigs Field runways.

(Hat tip:  PB!)

Happy Thanksgiving from Sloopin

Wishing all you Sloopers and all your loved ones a happy thanksgiving!

Now it's time to eat!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Contract to Build DePaul/McPier Arena Approved; Construction Could Begin in Spring 2015

Sketch inside the new DePaul/McPier Arena (via Sun Times)
On Monday we posted about cost projections for the DePaul/McPier Arena soaring to a rumored $250 million.  After some compromises and changes to the design, cost estimates are lower than that number but still slightly higher than originally projected (via Sun Times):
Total cost of the arena portion of the project — $164 million — had gone up about 17 percent since it was first proposed in early 2012, Reilly said. 
Despite the increased cost, the 10,000-seat arena project will remain a 50-50 partnership with DePaul University. The university issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming its commitment, saying, “DePaul has built or extensively renovated more than a dozen buildings during the last 15 years, and is quite familiar with the process of adjusting budgets or design plans as actual construction costs become known. We remain committed to the larger project and look forward to helping create a building of which the city can be proud, and doing it as cost-effectively as possible.” 
To stay within budget, the arena's design was altered to put the basketball court at ground level; originally, the plan had been to put the main floor of the arena below grade level. Besides DePaul basketball games, the arena will host concerts, amateur sports and other events. 
The groundbreaking could take place in April or May, Reilly said. Construction is expected to take about two years, meaning it would open in 2017, which would be too late for the originally planned 2016-2017 basketball season.
There are also some new renderings of the design.  Beyond the picture above you can see the floor plan below and some other ariel shots:

Fred Anderson Park Nears Completion; Shooting for Mid-Jan Opening Pending Post Construction "Punch List" Review

Looks like Fred Anderson Park continues to progress.  Last week we posted about a potential "design fail" but regardless of that things are moving forward.  A reader writes:
The turf is in !!! Under heated, makeshift tents installers laid in the turf over the course of last Friday, Saturday and Monday, and it was unveiled for all to see on Tuesday. Looks pretty, hope the glue holds !!! 
Latest word from the Chicago Park District is that the park will open in mid-January. The construction will be completed before then, but there is a 30-day punch list period during which the contractor must address anything identified as needing attention after 'completion'. The South Loop Dog Park Action Cooperative (SLDogPAC) is on board to participate in that punch list process.
In other related news, DNAinfo sat down with Acadia Chef/Owner Ryan McCaskey who operates his well regarded eatery next door to the soon to be open park.  The article mostly talks about his restaurant receiving its third consecutive one-star rating from the Michelin guide, but also talks about the restaurants newest neighbor to the north:
Yet for now he'd settle for the dog park to finish construction, which would allow him to put in an outdoor patio for cocktails. "I knew this was coming in years before I got this space," McCaskey said. "There will be some green space, I hope.  
"This makes me nervous," McCaskey said, looking out the window at the fenced-off construction zone. "It looks like they're building Jurassic Park. But we'll see how it pans out for us."v
Sounds like you may be sipping on Acadia cocktails (see post about the Sloopin cocktail at Acadia) while watching fido frolic.

(Hat tip:  BE!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Chicago-Area Women Sue CD One Dry Cleaners

A reader writes:
As a slooper and (former) client of CD One price I urge you to share this in your updates. Their service has declined and this recent article doesn't help the situation (via Chicago Tribune - partial blurb): 
Three Chicago-area women sued a dry cleaning franchisee for allegedly requiring them to work "off the clock" and failing to compensate them for overtime.  
The women, Hortensia Castaneda, Naivi Cobos and Ana Rodriguez, pressed and laundered clothes for CD One Price Cleaners in the South Loop, which is owned by Nilkanth Investment. The women say they were given quotas too high to accomplish in an eight-hour workday, forcing them to complete their tasks "off the clock." 
For example, they were required to press more than 200 garments per hour, while also making hangers for those garments, according to the suit filed Monday in federal court in Chicago. To meet the quota, Cobos and Rodriguez spent two hours at home before or after a shift to make the hangers, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges Castaneda showed up to work before the start of her shift to complete tasks.

(Hat tip:  TC!)


CHA Seeks Bids for Redevelopment of Former Harold Ickes Homes Land

Some big real estate news came through yesterday as the CHA is asking for bids to build on the now vacant land that used to house the infamous Harold Ickes Homes (from Crains):
The Chicago Housing Authority is looking for a developer to remake a big vacant site four blocks west of McCormick Place with new homes and shops. 
CHA is seeking pitches for an 11.3-acre property it owns between 22nd Street and Interstate 55, along the west side of State Street, according to a request for proposals the agency recently released. The site was once part of the Harold Ickes Homes, a 1,006-unit development CHA finished demolishing in 2010.
Further down in the article it confirms that the goal is for mix income housing:
Similar to ongoing redevelopments around the former Cabrini-Green housing project and other areas once dominated by CHA buildings, the agency wants the Ickes site redevelopment to include homes for a range of income levels, along with retail space.  
“The corner of (22nd Street) and State Street will serve to anchor the retail/commercial element of the proposal,” the RFP says. “Special emphasis should be placed on this corner as a transit hub, to maximize retail frontage for ground floor tenant and increased density with a maximum building height comparable to surrounding building structures.”
If you recall back in 2009 the housing project was demolished.  Since then this redevelopment was slow moving.  WBEZ had an article we linked to back in 2013.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Demonstrators March Through Sloop After Ferguson Decision

We're hearing intermittent sirens blaring as demonstrators moved through the Sloop in the wake of the Ferguson decision(via Chicago Tribune).
Activists who had gathered at Chicago Public Safety Headquarters Monday evening to await a grand jury's decision in the death of Michael Brown, marched toward downtown, making their way to Lake Shore Drive. 
Several hundred people marched up Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, reaching Lake Shore Drive about 8:50 p.m., chanting as they went north on the southbound drive. "Whose streets? Our streets" the group shouted. 
About 9:30 p.m., police on horseback wearing riot helmets lined up on Lake Shore Drive near Roosevelt Road, forcing demonstrators to head north on Columbus Drive as the smell of horse manure wafted through the air. Lake Shore was reopened about 9:40 p.m. and police and protesters came to a stop at Balbo Drive and Wabash Avenue.
Some protesters were being chased by police after crossing through a line of officers at Wabash.

Police on bicycles blocked the protesters from continuing north on Columbus at Balbo.

A reader sent us the picture above and the below.

UPDATE from Wabash/Balbo:

(Hat tip:  JG & SM!)

Peeping the Baller Buildout for Burger Bar

Try to say "Peeping the Baller Buildout for Burger Bar" fast 5 times...

We've posted about the buildout before but upon a recent stroll down Michigan Avenue we noticed that you could finally see inside the space that will eventually become the Sloop's Burger Bar at 1160 S. Michigan and it looks pretty good:

Another nice feature is that it appears that the windows are of the retracting garage door type so when the weather permits people can enjoy their surroundings.

We're pretty pumped for this and can't wait for them to open.

"Dug-in" Design Sends DePaul Arena Cost Projections Soaring

This isn't surprising, but still is concerning (crain's):
The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is negotiating with a general contractor for the proposed DePaul arena near McCormick Place, but the two sides are struggling with a price tag that has soared to as much as $250 million, about 75 percent more than the original estimate, according to people close to the bidding process. 
McPier next week is expected to award a design-build contract for the arena and an adjacent 1,200-room Marriott hotel to a venture led by Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction Group, those sources tell Crain's. The cost of the 51-story hotel is expected to be in line with previous estimates, or a total of roughly $400 million. 
But a sticking point is the "dug-in" design of the 10,000-seat arena, which places its playing floor well below ground level. That feature has pushed construction costs above the $140 million that McPier and city officials optimistically projected when they announced the project in May 2013, sources said.
Joe Cahill of Crain's weighs in and says "McPier should stop chasing rainbows, dump DePaul arena":
But the agency is in no position to chase after rainbows. Despite winning legislative approval to refinance a towering debt burden, McPier remains a financial outpatient. Assets trail liabilities by $1.1 billion, and McPier posted an operating loss of $91.4 million last year. Even after the refinancing, the hotel tax revenues that are supposed to cover McPier's debt service fell short of the mark by about $60 million last year. 
The last thing McPier needs is financial responsibility for a money-losing arena. Instead of denying the inevitability of construction cost overruns, the agency should use them as an excuse to avert another fiscal fiasco. 
Yes, McPier already has spent $37.8 million buying and clearing land for the arena. But that doesn't make the arena a good investment. Proceeding with construction would only throw good money after bad. 
Taxpayers would be better served if McPier were to sell the land to a private real estate developer or set it aside for some future expansion of McCormick Place.

While he might be on to something, it still feels like this project is moving forward.

Maybe they should listen to the wise and influential 90's R&B group TLC who also suggested that we don't "Chase Waterfalls" (which for whatever reason is what we thought of when we read the title of Mr. Cahill's article - sigh):
Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to 
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all 
But I think you're moving too fast

Bet you didn't see this post ending with a seque to TLC....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meet Bre, a 4-Year-Old Pit Bull 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 Bre:
Say hello to Bre, a 4-year-old pit bull mix who is available for adoption through The Anti-Cruelty Society. Bre is a social, friendly girl, whose tail is always wagging! She can be a little nervous coming through thresholds and approaching stairs, but will come forward with gentle encouragement. Bre should adjust well to most households and will make a great companion for a variety of families. Come meet this sweet, soft girl today at the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center located in the South Loop PetSmart.
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.

Design Fail at Fred Anderson Dog Park?

Designer fail - a reader writes:
The new park currently being built just south of 16th and Wabash has a very interesting "sail like" feature (photo above). It ought to be interested seeing how much snow it can collect/hold before ripping apart this Winter Season. Not sure what the designer was thinking?
As you will recall things are moving quickly at the Fred Anderson Dog Park.  Last we heard they were shooting for a mid-November opening.  Judging by this picture we found on Facebook, it looks like they're pretty close to opening.

(Hat tip:  MK & JL!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Dance Studio and Residential Project in Buildout Mode at 1920 S. Wabash

Upon a recent trip down south we noticed a sizable buildout in progress at the 1900 block of South Wabash:

It sparked enough interest from us to pull to the side and take a picture of the permit to see if the project description had more details:

In case you can't read the small print (you probably can't) here is what it says:
Construct a new IC five story building.  1st floor for a dance studio at 6858 sq ft.  2nd thru fifth floors for residential units at 2552 sq ft each.  A four car attached garage at 1152 sq ft and a roof deck over the fifth floor of the building at 715 sq ft per plans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More "High-Profile" Restaurants Coming to South Michigan Avenue

Renovations at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (via Eater Chicago)
Let us preface this post by acknowledging that our headline might be slightly misleading, but please hear us out.  Like many things in Chicago, it often seems like the media and people in general tend to focus on the happenings on the North side.  Fine - we get it.

However, as many of us know there are interesting things happening on the south side.  We've spent some time debating whether or not Michigan avenue (the part that borders Grant Park) could see a renaissance.  We briefly spoke about it in a post we did about "What is the Chicago Cultural Mile?" but we also specifically pondered the idea from the restaurant/bar angle when it was announced that the Grant Taproom was going to open (back in 2013).

Well the Grant Taproom never happened, but it does appear that there are some very interesting restaurant concepts coming to this stretch of Michigan ave (albiet just north of Congress and what we consider the Sloop).

At 12 S. Michigan, the Chicago Athletic Club Hotel renovation is in full swing.  With that comes two exciting restaurant concepts.  The first is the acclaimed NYC burger spot, Shake Shack, which will occupy the first floor of the hotel.  This will be the second location in Chicago for Shake Shack.  The first just opened a couple of weeks ago in River North and lines have been constant.

The second is a from some well regarded Logan Square restauranteurs (via Eater Chicago):
Land & Sea Dept., the guys behind Longman & Eagle and Parson's Chicken & Fish, have also signed onto the forthcoming hotel project in the long-vacant historic landmarked building across from Millennium Park, and is planning its first restaurant project outside Logan Square. The first inkling of the project was reported in June. 
Land & Sea says they'll handle the second floor space of the building at 12 S. Michigan Ave., which was once home to the Cherry Circle Room restaurant. They'll also operate a restored bar, part of the lobby, a tasting room and a game room—the latter of which will feature bocce, billiards, chess, and more. 
Land & Sea isn't yet releasing specifics on the food or beverage programs but they term the building, which was completed in 1893, and the spaces therein "stunning." The entire project is slated to open sometime in 2015.

Opening a block south at 122 S. Michigan is another high-profile restaurant (via Michigan Avenue Magazine):
(Alpana) Singh is expecting again, as her second Chicago dining spot, Seven Lions, is set to open in the landmark Peoples Gas Building on Michigan Avenue. Singh promises that the new lunch and dinner spot will be filled with artistic elements worthy of its historic location. As for the style of food, the restaurateur is coy but promises one thing: “I can tell you for a fact that it will not be Italian.” 
Couple this with the recent news that the Essex hotel will be getting an upgrade and that the build-out for the popular Lincoln Park Burger Bar is underway at 1160 S. Michigan, it appears that there is some serious momentum on the South Michigan restaurant/bar/nightlife front.

We're just saying that there looks like to be a bevy of new options on South Michigan and we're excited.  Yes, patience is required, but we can also be excited.

Oh My Gawd! Is South Michigan the "Spa Corridor"?
Apparently as OMG Spa Signs Appear at 1620 S. Michigan

Yesterday we spoke about some restaurant momentum on South Michigan (mostly north of Roosevelt).  Today we talk about another apparent trend on South Michigan - the insane amount of spa-type businesses that are open.

A reader sends us an email which definitely gave us a chuckle:
Just walked by 1620 s Michigan and there is a pink sign up for OMG spa coming soon. 
Sign says hair and nails. Apparently michigan s of Roosevelt is becoming a real "spa" corridor, whatever that means...

It is a great observation and definitely is mind boggling to think about how all of these businesses can stay open when you would think they would cannibalize each other.  Clearly the overhead expenses are low.

Regardless, it is nice to see some retail activity come to the long vacant 1620 S. Michigan (besides a temporary real estate office and a storage center).

(Hat tip: JB!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Roosevelt Collection Tomorrow (Thurs, 11/20) from 6 to 7pm

Sponsored Post

Now that the holiday season is upon us, the Shops at Roosevelt Collection are ready to get into the spirit. The plaza at Roosevelt Collection will shine even brighter thanks to Alpine Artisan Studios—the famed design company responsible for decorating Rockefeller Center. A massive 36 foot Christmas tree along with life size ornaments, gift boxes, singing trees and dreidels will be on display for the season beginning November 16th.

Visitors can enjoy the festive d├ęcor along with great holiday shopping. A gorgeous setting with free parking and a bevy of shopping options make the Shops at Roosevelt Collection the most convenient way to shop in the city. Check out the newly opened Victoria's Secret/PINK and The Container Store along with shopping staples Banana Republic, Bentley's Corner Barkery, Fleet Feet, Francesca's, H&M, Haberdash, LOFT, lululemon, Republic of Couture, ULTA and White House|Black Market, or catch a movie and food and drink at Chicago's most premiere movie experience, Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theatre. Stay active with classes at Shred415 and Yoga Six.

Tree Lighting Ceremony with Alderman Solis and a live performance by the British School of Chicago. Watch the 36 foot Christmas tree light up with hot apple cider and live holiday music on Thursday, November 20th 6 pm (lighting promptly at 6:30 followed by performance).


Old Water Tank at 1132 S. Wabash Comes Down

There's been a lot of news about the iconic "Swedish flag" water tank in Andersonville getting taken down, there was apparently another water thank getting removed in the Sloop:
Here's a random happening in the Sloop today: the old water tank that had been perched above 1132 S Wabash for a long time was taken down – tall metal base and all. One moment, workers were cutting apart the base from the roof, and soon after, the entire structure was lowered to the parking lot below, adjacent to the Roosevelt El platform. 
Here's a pic from a year ago, and today's "after" photos. I wonder how long it's been out of commission. It seems rare to see those around the city these days....




(Hat tip: MK!)

Vogue Fabrics Closes at 627 W. Roosevelt As Golfsmith Will Presumably Move-in

A reader writes:
Sorry to be the one to report that today was the last day for Vogue Fabrics on Roosevelt Rd. Their Facebook page says that they lost the lease.  
"Sadly, today is the last day our Roosevelt Road store was open for business. We would like to sincerely thank everyone, staff and customers, for 29 years of love and support!! We will miss being a part of the South Loop.  
Please remember that we are still open for business. Come visit us in Evanston at both our retail location at 718 Main St. and our warehouse at 618 Hartrey Ave."
It's just another sign that the Roosevelt Road Corridor west of the Chicago river is changing.

Besides Roosevelt Collection and The Maxwell ushering in a new wave of big box national retailers, other smaller and older retail businesses have recently closed or left.  On the 600 west block of Roosevelt Vitamin Shoppe (601 W. Roosevelt), Petco (611 W. Roosevelt) and Sleepy's (605 W. Roosevelt) have all opened up stores and Golfsmith has announced their intentions to open on the same block (which we think is the space the Vogue Fabrics is vacating).

Curious to hear what everyone thinks about this?  Are you happy that national retailers are moving in and essentially kicking out the smaller, local businesses?

Or are you indifferent?  Just the way it goes...

(Hat tip:  MK & MG!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spoke & Bird Launch Kickstarter Campaign For Upgrades

Like many Sloopers, we've always had a warm spot for Cafe Society, the quaint and slightly quirky restaurant/bistro at 1801 S. Indiana.  While they do have indoor seating space, much of the draw is the charming patio.  We've even touted their Chicago Spinach & Guacamole role as one of our Sloopin favorites!

This past Spring word came out that new owners were bringing a new concept to the space called Bird & Spoke.  Well the new owners took over the spot in July and made some slight changes, but are now launching a kickstarter campaign to take it to the next level

Best of luck to them and hopefully they can raise the funding needed to make their plan come true.

We'd sure like to see it!

(Hat tip:  MH!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Open Space Advocates File Lawsuit to Block Proposed Site for Lucas Museum; Tribune Critic Proposes New Site

And here we go (via Chicago Tribune):
Open space advocates made good Thursday on their promise to go to court to block the proposed site for George Lucas’ museum, asserting in a federal lawsuit that the city of Chicago and the Park District overstepped their authority in offering a lakefront location to the “Star Wars” creator. 
The site, now home to two parking lots just south of Soldier Field, was part of Lake Michigan until being filled in sometime during the 1920s, and therefore remains a specially protected waterway, the Friends of the Parks said in its lawsuit.

We're not lawyers here at Sloopin so are not going to debate the validity of this lawsuit.  Regardless, should be interesting to see how it plays out.

As opposition mounts on the legal side, alternative ideas also appear to be gaining momentum from other angels - like architecture writer, Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune who looks slightly south for a compromise (via Chicago Tribune premium):
There's a better spot for the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts than the one that led to the much-derided "Mount Lucas" design and prompted Friends of the Parks on Thursday to file a lawsuit in federal court against the plan. 
This site would give the museum a high-profile Lake Shore Drive address and the waterfront views coveted by its namesake, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, without compromising the cherished openness of Chicago's shoreline. 
It would be easier to reach by public transit than the 17-acre parcel, consisting of two parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, that the city has agreed to give to Lucas.   
Tribune Graphics
And it would be more economically transformative than the chosen site, spinning off development to the historic African-American neighborhood of Bronzeville, perhaps even raising Mayor Rahm Emanuel's sagging political standing among black voters as he gears up to run for re-election.  
Emanuel knows the site well: It figures prominently in a study his administration released last year that lays out strategies for redeveloping the former Michael Reese Hospital property, which the city bought in 2009 as part of Mayor Richard Daley's failed bid to bring the Summer Olympics to Chicago.  
But the site I have in mind isn't Reese. It's a narrow, 28-acre strip of asphalt just to the east of the former hospital — a parking lot and staging area for trucks that deliver material to and from the McCormick Place convention center. Truckers and the RV owners who sometimes camp out there know it as the McCormick Place Marshalling Yards.

While we understand the compromise, something tells us that the Lucas camp might not be as enthusiastic about moving further south.  While it does provide waterfront views, it is definitely a less prestigious location and definitely would feel more isolated from the "downtown area".

So yeah, more drama and more ambiguity on future plans for the Lucas museum.  Will all of this chatter simply result in impeding the inevitable buildout?  Or could it actually make a difference and make the city and Lucas concede to a different site?  Or could it even open up the door for Lucas to say "see ya Chicago!"  I'm taking my millions somewhere else.

Time will tell, stay tuned!

(Hat tip: PB!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Agent: "The View Looks Good for South Loop Condo Sales"

Views from a client's condo in South Loop.
Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
South Loop condo sales numbers have climbed way up for the last five years. It has been pretty dramatic from 2009 when all new construction condo buildings stopped to the present time. In fact, South Loop condo sales in 2012 were up 94% over 2011. Crazy!  
There were of course reasons for this increase. Demand started to catch up with the lack of inventory due to the complete halt in building. Prices were relatively cheap in the improving market. Interest rates were low (and still are). The original "investors" in these buildings were foreclosed or forced to short sell at great prices (if you would take on the risk).  
Since that time condo associations have stabilized. The health of a condo association is the X factor in your decision to buy in one building or another. As buildings took control and amended by-laws and rules to be more owner friendly and prudent buyers felt more secure in making the investment. Sales happened and prices began to rise again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recently On the Sloopin Message Board...

Have a random South Loop question you've been contemplating?  Want to join (or start) a book club?  Need a handyman recommendation?  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:

Rees House Move Time-Lapse Movie

In case you missed the Harriet Rees House moving down the block yesterday, we were able to find a fun time lapse video on Youtube:
(Hat tip:  RJ!)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Victoria's Secret Opens; The Container Store Opening on November 15th

It's the early stages of the holiday season and two Roosevelt Collection retailers are opening just in time to capitalize.

A reader sent us the following pics letting us know that Victoria's Secret and sister store Pink are now open:

In other Roosevelt Collection retail news, The Container Store is officially opening their doors as well.  Saturday (11/15) and Sunday (11/16) will be their "grand opening" weekend and will include "give away prizes every hour, on the hour, including $1,000 elfa Space Makeovers with Installation on both days."

There has been a lot going on at Roosevelt Collection lately.  It seems like every week we're posting about a new opening or a new retailer coming.  Northwestern Medical Group and Yoga Six opened within the past month and it looks like MAGO grill and cantina is also coming to the development.

(Hat tip:  SH!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Acadia Earns One Star Rating from Michelin Guide for Third Consecutive Year

McCaskey and team in Acadia Kitchen (via Facebook)
Last week it was the Michelin Bib Gourmand list.  This week, it's time for the big dogs...the Michelin Guide stars!

Honestly though, it was relatively uneventful.

The big news was that Grace, the West Loop restaurant at 652 w. Randolph joined Alinea as the only restaurants in Chicago to be awarded the sought after three stars rating.

In local Sloop news, our venerable neighborhood restaurant Acadia earned a one star rating for the third consecutive year.  While we know Ryan McCaskey and team are really shooting for a second star, maintaining their one star rating is still nothing to sneeze at.

If that's not enough for McCaskey maybe he can hang his hat on the fact that he recently won the judges award at the inaugural Ramenfest at BellyQ this past weekend.  Maybe not as prestigious, but probably more fun.

In other local Michelin star news, Everest, the classy French Lettuce Entertain You restaurant at 440 s. LaSalle, also retained their one star rating.

Congrats to everyone and our South Loop restaurants!

(Hat tip:  BR!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

IDOT to Begin Replacing and Resurfacing Ramps at LSD and 55 Starting in Spring 2015

Graphic from Crain's
This sounds like a pain (via Crain's):
Drivers coming in and out of McCormick Place may be in for some construction zone headaches over the next three years, beginning in the spring of 2015. 
The Illinois Department of Transportation is set to begin work early next year on a $108 million project to replace and resurface ramps at the interchange of Lake Shore Drive and Interstate 55, which will be reduced from three lanes to two at various points through mid-2017.
Hopefully the headache will be worth the benefits at the end of the day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Historic Rees Home Set for Move Down the Block on Tuesday & Wednesday

It's time to move a historic house down the block!

There has been a lot of discussion and posts about the impending move of the historic Rees House from 2110 S. Prairie to 2017 S. Prairie to make way for the proposed McCormick/DePaul arena.

Last month the coach house was moved (click here to see a video of that).  Now comes the actual moving of the house (via Curbed Chicago).  
Image from Curbed Chicago (via Harry Carmichael)
The Harriet F. Rees House is loaded up on a large dolly and ready to make its big move just a block down the street. A previous timeline had indicated that the landmark home would be moved from its current location at 2110 S. Prairie Ave. to 2017 S. Prairie Ave in the first week of November, and now Thornton Tomasetti, the project managers for the move, are revealing that workers will be moving the home on Monday, November 10 Tuesday and Wednesday, November 11th and 12th.
UPDATE: Although contractor Thornton Tomasetti had indicated that the move would begin next Monday, the official word now from McPier is that the move will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 8am to 12pm and will continue the following day, also from 8am to 12pm.

If you're around it should be an interesting thing to witness if you're around and have some time.

(Hat tip:  SR!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

FruVe xPress Juicery Opens at 1130 S. Wabash

FruVe xPress Juicery Opens at 1130 S. Wabash
It's been awhile since we first posted about FruVe opening at 1130 S. Wabash (see post from May 2013), but as they say good things come to those who wait.

Back in August of 2014, we noticed some movement inside at the shop.

Fast forward to this past week and a couple readers sent us notes saying they're open as well as some pictures.  One reader writes:
Ordered a fresh juice blend and it was very good.
Maybe not the most descriptive review, but at least it was good!

Looking forward to trying them out.  Welcome to the Sloop.

Business counter is updated with this.

(Hat tip:  JM & MP!)

Shots Around the Sloop: Chi is a Beaut

Features many parts of the city, but also many shots around the sloop:

Shots around the Sloop (this is what we found):
  • 0:01 - start of the video
  • 0:19
  • 1:34
  • 1:59
  • 2:24
It's kinda like where's waldo with the Sloop...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Delano Court Northwestern Office Opens at Roosevelt Collection

A reader recently sent us an email with a link directing us to the new Northwestern website for the location at Roosevelt Collection.

Judging by the website it looks like there will be three doctors:
Physicians Internal Medicine Physicians Peter Furey, MD
Kathy Tynus, MD  
Family Medicine Physician Vicki Samuels, MD
It looks like a pretty big space, so we assume there will be additional doctors there.

Business Counter is updated with this addition.

(Hat tip:  DW!)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blair Kamin - It's Time for Rahm to Tell George: "Take Two" on Museum Renderings

Rendering of Lucas Museum looking South (via Chicago Tribune)
Remember how we said Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin was neutral about the recent Lucas Museum renderings earlier this week?  Well after some time to digest, he penned a good article we thoroughly enjoyed reading.  Below is his ending, which in our opinion sums it up nicely:
In real-world Chicago, the burden is on him (Ma Yasong - the architect) to demonstrate that he's enhancing the lakefront, not just luring tourists. And yet, the plan doesn't appear to transform the site's 12 acres of parking lots into new parkland, as city officials said it would. Emanuel even predicted that the project would complete Chicago's Museum Campus, the cluster of natural science museums consisting of the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.  
But the plan, which discards promised underground parking and retains a two-level parking deck on the site's north half, looks to be giving us more "museum" than "campus." It will add "significantly" to lakefront green space, the Lucas camp claims. Yet it offers no hard estimate to back up its assertion.  
Plunk down Ma's mountain and you have an imposing row of five structures along South Lake Shore Drive — The Field, Soldier Field, the aforementioned parking deck, the Lucas Museum and the Lakeside Center. Their cumulative effect would be at war with one of the policies set out in the city's lakefront plan: "Maintain and enhance the predominantly landscaped, spacious, and continuous character of the lakeshore parks."  
The ultimate issue is the site. Can the lakefront accommodate what Lucas wants and can Lucas, in turn, enhance the city's greatest public space? It may be that no reconciliation is possible, pushing Emanuel to offer the movie mogul another, less contentious, spot, like the former Michael Reese campus on 31st Street. But at this point, confronted by the prospect of a weird blob along the lakefront, it's time for Rahm to tell George: "Take Two."
Should be interesting to see how this plays out.  Stay tuned.

StreetsBlog Chicago Checks in on Roosevelt Road Improvements

A raised bike path is under construction on the north side of Roosevelt, between Michigan and Indiana avenues, outside Potbelly and Trader Joe’s. (Image via StreetsBlog Chicago)
There are a lot of "improvements" underway on Roosevelt Road between State and Indiana.  One of the highest profile items is Chicago's first raised bike lane (via StreetsBlog Chicago):
Next month, bicyclists of all ages will have a safe new way to get to the Museum Campus, Lakefront Trail, and Soldier Field from the South Loop once construction crews complete the city’s first raised cycle track. A two-way bike path along Roosevelt Road, between Wabash and Indiana avenues, is being built on the same level as the sidewalk on the north side of the street. This separated path will keep bicyclists out of a busy five-lane road that’s often filled with cars and buses traveling to or from Lake Shore Drive and the museums.
We've had some posts on this topic and generally speaking are excited to see how this affects pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area.  In the StreetsBlog post, many commenters are predicting traffic nightmares.  If you've ever been in the area during an event at Soldier Field, you probably can't fathom how traffic on Roosevelt could get worse.  Should be interesting to see how this changes the flow on Roosevelt.

Anyway, the post says that the city will be done with the project soon:
An electronic board at the site indicates that CDOT anticipates completing construction on December 1, four weeks from today. Once the project is finished, it will create a safer, off-street east-west route for Roosevelt bikers — but there will certainly be a learning curve for both bikers and pedestrians, as bicyclists will now share a surface with pedestrians. The bike path will be separated from both sidewalk and street by a row of street trees.
Great news for bikers, except for the fact that December is the start of the freezing season in Chicago and bike traffic tends to dip DRASTICALLY for the next couple months (because it will be freakin cold outside).

In semi-related news, the city is also nearing completion of the new skate park and grassy area on the south end of Grant Park.  DNAinfo has an article about skaters breaking in at night to use the park because they're stoked for it.  Silly skaters, they're going to ruin it before it's ready for them to shred on.

Similar to the Roosevelt Road improvements this project is scheduled to be done in early December.
New Grant Park skate park - between Michigan and Columbus just north of Roosevelt (via DNAinfo)

Anyway, some big time civic improvements are nearing completion on Roosevelt Road.  Hopefully they will be an asset to the Sloop.

What do you think, are these "improvements" good or bad for the neighborhood?

(Hat tip:  SS!)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

CMK Cos. Acquires Lot South of River City Complex Which Points to a New Residential Development Along the River

In case you missed this last week, Crain's has an article about local developer CMK aquiring a lot on the Chicago river:
With one South Loop condominium development under construction, CMK Cos. may have another one in the works on a riverside site next to the River City complex. 
The Chicago residential developer agreed to pay $4.9 million for a 1.8-acre site just south of River City, the Bertrand Goldberg-designed condo building at 800 S. Wells St., according to a recent filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. CMK will be the preferred, or stalking horse, bidder in a court-supervised auction of the property Dec. 2, according to the document. 
The developer specializes in moderately priced condos, completing a 714-unit tower at 235 W. Van Buren St. a few years ago and recently launching a 140-unit project at 1345 S. Wabash Ave. CMK also plans a 307-unit apartment development at 1333 S. Wabash. 
It's unclear whether CMK plans apartments or condos on the riverside property. CMK President Colin Kihnke did not respond to requests for comment. 
Image from ChicagoArchitecture.info
One observer said condos make more sense, mainly because thousands of apartments already are under construction in downtown Chicago. 
“I think it's more of a condo site because there are more than enough apartments being built right now,” said Thad Wong, co-founder of Chicago brokerage @properties. “There are very few entry-level condos being built.”
The article headline reads "River City II? Condo developer to buy site south of housing complex" and while we understand it, if we were CMK we would try to distance ourselves from that idea of being "river city II".

While River City was definitely an interesting and intriguing project when constructed in the mid-1980s, it's been marred lately by building issues (see flooding issues from 2010) and very low value for its units (based on similar sized units in the neighborhood).

Anyway, should be interesting to see what CMK has planned for the spot.

(Hat tip:  KW & KM!)

2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand Announced - Kurah on List Again; Mercat a la Planxa Falls Off

Inside Dinning Room at Kurah
Foodies rejoice, it's Michelin award season.  Like previous years, first up is the Bib Gourmands recommendations that are defined as "good food at moderate prices" (or 2 courses, a glass of of wine for under $40).  While moderate might not be moderate for everyone you're probably not going to go bankrupt at these restaurants.

For this years guide, there aren't many surprises for the South Loop.  A big shoutout to Kurah (1355 S. Michigan) for earning it's second consecutive year on the Bib Gourmand list.  Unfortunately it wasn't all good news for sloop restaurants as Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan) fell off after being included for the first time this past year.

There is a chance Mercat could get a bump up and receive a star (which is considered more of an honor), but that's a big question mark judging by some tweets from the @MichelinGuideCH handle (via Curbed Chicago):
The Michelin Man wondered back in August if Mercat a la Planxa's attention to detail in their dining room was slipping. However, once the food arrived things perked up. 
Sitting @MercatChicago staring at a scratched, greasy and worn table. Has it peaked? Perhaps food too?
— Michelin Guide (@MichelinGuideCH) August 28, 2014 
but spinach-fig-walnut salad topped with slices of Serrano ham and a tasty sherry dressing was a nice start to my meal @MercatChicago— Michelin Guide (@MichelinGuideCH) August 28, 2014
We're guessing, this means they won't get a star but we will find out soon.

Similar to previous years, Chinatown stalwarts Lao Sze Chuan (2171 S. Archer) and Lao Hunan (2230 S. Wentworth) also received Bib Gourmand recognition again.

One surprising omission we noticed (but isn't getting much attention in the press) is Opart Thai falling off the list.  While the Opart Thai on the list was always referenced as the Lincoln Square location, the sister restaurant in the South Loop (Opart Thai - 1906 S. State) is still one of our favorites and continues to turn out good food.

This is just the prelude to the big Michelin star announcement which is expected next week.  Acadia has been the lone South Loop representative on the star list (you could also include Everest at 440 S. LaSalle to the list if you'd like).  They've received a one star rating (which is a big honor) the past two years.

Could Ryan McCaskey and his team earn two stars?  We will see next week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Prominent Chicago Developer Acquires Essex Inn; Plans "Upscale Lifestyle" Remodel

Big news on Michigan Avenue yesterday as it was announced that a local developer acquired the Essex Inn and plans to renovate it (via Crains):
With one hotel project under way on Michigan Avenue, Oxford Capital Group LLC is getting ready to launch another on the boulevard about a mile south.  
The Chicago developer acquired the 254-room Essex Inn across from Grant Park with plans to transform it into “an upscale lifestyle hotel,” according to a statement from the company.  
Oxford did not disclose a price. Oxford has been one of the busiest downtown hotel developers in recent years, with projects including the Langham and Godfrey hotels in River North. The developer is converting a vintage office building at 360 N. Michigan Ave. into a 450-room hotel.

To get a sense for what the future might hold for the Essex we suggest heading over to the TripAdvisor pages for the Langham and the Godfrey and see what people say.  According to the site the Langham is the #1 hotel out of 174 in Chicago.

Best Western - Another Candidate for a Remodel?
This seems to be a great thing for the South Loop and this stretch of Michigan avenue.  Another "upscale" hotel is a nice upgrade from the dated Essex Inn.  We'll be curious to see what's in store for this remodel.  It's definitely a prime location for a more modern hotel.

Speaking of hotels that could use a good remodel, just south of here sits the dated Best Western (1100 S. Michigan).  Seems like this hotel could be another candidate for a remodel as well.  Some day this will happen.  Some day.

(Hat tip:  AR!)