Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Boom Goes the Transformer at 16th-18th Block of Indiana Ave.

A reader writes:
Did you hear about the transformer blowing about 4 times on the roof of the building at the 16th-18th block of Indiana (on March 29th)? The sky flashed bright blue a few times. Gave the sloop a reason to get on their balconies and say hello to each other.
Anyone hear this or have any information?

(Hat tip:  RW!)

Jack's Chicago Grill Replaces Big Mike's Gyros at 2113 S. State

A reader writes:
Looks like this place next to Reggies has got some new owners/rebranded. Now called Jack's Chicago Grill and has a Westside sister, rather than the original BMG on the south side, which I presume is still going? 
Place seems pretty similar. Cheap eats, with tired no frills surroundings. Gyros still tasted good though.

We've never been to the now closed Big Mike's Gyros so can't comment on whether or not this is a big loss.

Jack's obviously has another location so they clearly have some experieince (which is a good thing).  We did some googling and found that they have a 3.5 star rating on Yelp.

So there you go - a new place to get some grub.  Straight forward and no fills.

(Hat tip:  DN!)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chicago Tribune: "Michigan Avenue South of the River Coming Into Its Own"

We've spent some time in the past talking about Chicago's "Cultural Mile" (which is also referred to as "Millennium Mile").  But recently the Tribune took notice:
Michigan Avenue south of the river, long an afterthought to glitzy Magnificent Mile, has been buzzing with construction as new apartments, hotels and restaurants start to pour into a corridor previously dominated by souvenir and sports fan shops. 
"I think it's stunning," said John Vance, vice president at Stone Real Estate. "I don't think there's any argument that the changes to the east Loop have been so significant that no one could have predicted it." 
In the decade since Millennium Park became a tourist hit and with Maggie Daley Park shaping up to be a major draw, a string of developers have been buying, building and renovating buildings that promise to boost the profile — and investment value — along the strip.

While much of the attention in the article focuses on the area of Michigan Avenue from Wacker to Congress, the Chicago Cultural Mile defines this stretch all the way down to the Sloop:
While Michigan Avenue's renaissance south of the river has been anticipated for years, "I feel like we're reaching that tipping point now," said Sharene Shariatzadeh, executive director of the Chicago Cultural Mile Association. "It has all come together in a perfect storm."  
The group, formally incorporated as a nonprofit in 2010, has been working to brand the stretch of Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive to Roosevelt Road the "cultural mile" to identify it with institutions such as the Art Institute and Chicago Symphony Center contained within. Last year it erected bronze planters with the name at each end and launched "second Fridays" to drum up excitement about its members' activities.

It's hard to deny that there has been some serious momentum.  For instance, numerous high-profile restaurants with serious buzz are popping up.  Seven Lions, from former Check Please host Alpana Singh, opened a few weeks back at 122 S. Michigan and currently has a four star rating on Yelp.

Remington's coming to 20 N. Michigan
Land & Sea Dept, from the Longman & Eagle dudes, as well as the super popular Shake Shack will be opening up at the renovated Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (12 S. Michigan).  Apparently there is also a new concept called Remington's, from the 4-star restaurant group (Smoke Daddy's, Dunlays') coming to 20 N. Michigan).

Obviously these are all close to the Sloop, but just to the north.

That's not to say there isn't activity in the Sloop as well.  Probably the most high-profile thing going on along Michigan Avenue is the acquisition of Essex Inn by the Oxford Capitol Group LLC, the people behind the recently launch 5-Star Langham Hotel on the Chicago River between State and Dearborn.  Currently the Essex Inn restaurant space is home to the solid Brasserie by LM.  While we wouldn't anticipate them leaving, we would expect some other swanky restaurant/bar/lounge thingy coming in.

While this might sound slow moving, it definitely seems to be a trend.  Slowly but surely, more and more restaurants and businesses are creeping South.  The "Cultural Mile" in our opinion is one of the most scenic stretches in city and frankly it's surprising its taken this long to see momentum.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shuffling Through the Sloop: Shamrock Shuffle is Tomorrow

Shamrock Shuffle is tomorrow (3/29).  Here's a friendly reminder of some of the street closures and the race map:
The 36th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K will take place the morning of Sunday, March 29, 2015. 
The race course will pass near your property. Please be advised that the following streets will be closed to traffic on Sunday, March 29, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.* as runners pass through the area (we've highlighted streets in the Sloop):
  • Columbus Dr. from Roosevelt Rd. to Grand Ave. 
  • Grand Ave. from Columbus Dr. to State St. 
  • State St. from Grand Ave. to Jackson Blvd. 
  • Jackson Blvd. from State St. to La Salle St. 
  • La Salle St. from Jackson Blvd. to Randolph St. 
  • Randolph St. from La Salle St. to Franklin St. 
  • Franklin St. from Randolph St. to Harrison St. 
  • Harrison St. from Franklin St. to Michigan Ave. 
  • S. Michigan Ave. (northbound lanes) from Harrison St. to Roosevelt Rd. 
  • Roosevelt Rd. (westbound lanes) from Michigan Ave. to Columbus Dr.

And here's the course map for those of you who are interested:

One Killed, One Wounded at Shooting in Motor Row Night Club

A late night shooting at a Motor Row night club (via Sun-Times):
One man was killed and another was wounded in a shooting in Riff Music Lounge in the South Loop early Saturday, police said. 
About 1:20 a.m., a 36-year-old man was inside the nightclub in the 2200 block of South Michigan when he got into an argument with another man about a woman, police said. 
The other man was escorted out of the club and later returned, pulled out a gun and opened fire, police said.
Riff Music Lounge opened in late 2013.

(Hat tip:  CG!)

The Sloopin Open House
Open, Airy and Hip in Printer's Row

The Sloopin Open House is a new weekly feature on the site where we highlight some of the more interesting open houses we see every week. We're not claiming they're the best deals or that we would necessarily recommend jumping all over the opportunity, but I doesn't hurt to look, right?

You're probably noticing that we're suckers for lofts.  We don't live in one, but conceptually they appeal to us here at Sloopin.

Which brings us to this weeks feature open house at 727 S. Dearborn (which is a different unit then the one we featured in the same building last week).  Clearly this building has some quirks to it.  Last week it was a multi-level unit with a spiral staircase.

This week it's a 1bd/1bth oozes sleek, modern open space coolness.  The listing says it's 1,500 square feet and it better be for $423K (with $822 monthly assessments).

But let's not dwell on the negatives.  If you need to up your hip quotient, maybe you should check this out and pony up some scrilla.

This open house is happening on March 28th from 1-3pm.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Zaki Mediterranean Grill Moving in at 610 W. Roosevelt

Upon a recent drive down Roosevelt we noticed that a new restaurant is apparently opening:
Zaki Mediterranean Grill (pictured on left)
It doesn't appear that this is a chain or anything, just a new Mediterranean Grill.  We did find a website listing some information on them and a logo:
On the website there is also a logo for "Hallal" which is something we've heard of, but weren't intimately familiar with.  After some googling we found this:
Halal is often used in reference to foods and drinks, i.e. foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic Shariʻah (law). The criteria specifies both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat and animal tissue.  
The most common example of non-halal (or haraam) food is pork. While pork is the only meat that cannot be eaten by Muslims at all (due to historical, cultural, and hygienic concerns), foods other than pork can also be haraam. The criteria for non-pork items include their source, the cause of the animal's death, and how it was processed.
So now you use this knowledge for Trivia night or next time you watch Jeopardy.

Anyway...this block of Roosevelt is going through a pretty big change (mainly across the street).  Before there were a ton of random local businesses, but now some big chains have moved in including Petco, Sleepy's, Vitamin Shoppe and a soon to open Golfsmith.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CMK's Land Grab Next to the Chicago River Progresses

A view of one of the empty lots that CMK bought next to the Chicago River - looking north from Roosevelt
From Crain's:
Residential developer CMK has cleared two more hurdles in its South Loop land grab, dropping more than $33 million on a pair of properties along the Chicago River.
A CMK venture paid $22.9 million last month for a 5.1-acre vacant parcel north of Roosevelt Road on the east bank of the river, one of the largest development sites in the South Loop, according to Cook County property records.
Another venture led by the Chicago developer paid $10.5 million for an empty 1.9-acre site just north of the River City housing complex, county records show.

CMK, whose recent projects include a 714-unit condominium tower at 245 W. Van Buren St., has emerged as the boldest buyer of South Loop land since the crash. In December it paid $7.8 million for a 1.8-acre property just south of River City.

As you might recall, this is a follow-up to the post we did back in January.  However, it appears that the article in Crain's at the start of the year was a little misleading.  CMK has actually bought a property South AND North of River City on the Chicago River.  Back in January we read it as they bought two lots South of River City.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that CMK is betting big on the Sloop and specifically this area on the river.

The Crain's article also presumes that they will be utilizing the river in whatever they're doing with the space (although it seems like it's speculation):
CMK also is building a 307-unit apartment tower at 1333 S. Wabash. Yet the developer's two Wabash projects, while in a more established neighborhood, aren't on the Chicago River, an amenity it will almost certainly embrace in its plans for its newly acquired properties.
Finally, one more fun fact for your Thursday - the lot that they acquired north of River City (known as Franklin Point) was purchased from two former business partners of Jay-Z.  They had plans to develop the lot, but obviously will not be doing that.

(Hat tip:  JJ!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: Is it Spring?

A reader writes:
No SLoop development or business or brewery news- just a super-local, handcrafted ...billboard. This snow-ffiti was put on north side of The Franklin Building (720 S Dearborn ) this afternoon by a team of people. Lots of people were taking pix of it so maybe you already got some. This is the lot where Bob sells Christmas trees in December and dogs romp the rest of the year (except during Book Fair).

(Hat tip:  GM!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rubi's - A Hidden Sunday Taco Gem in the Sloop?

We love tacos.  Maybe we were late to the game, but for some reason 3 years ago it just clicked.  They're delicious...but we digress.

Anyway, we were recently reading the Eater Chicago blog and came across a map thing outlining 15 of the Greatest Taco Spots in Chicago.  To our surprise, their was a place in the Sloop we had no idea about:
Rubi's At Maxwell Street Market (800 S. Desplaines)
A mainstay at Maxwell Street Market since 1997, Rubi’s is one of the city’s best kept secrets. Every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., people line up at the flea market for this stand that serves its famous al pastor tacos. The corn tortillas are made fresh on the spot and filled with everything from huitlacoche to cactus and squash blossom. Add a little homemade salsa on them and you’ll be coming back every week for more.

This sounds fun...see you there next Sunday!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Developer Looking to Purchase Vacant Lot from City at 1136 S. Wabash to Build Apartment Tower

And it looks like another vacant lot in the Sloop is getting developed (via Crains):
Vacant lot at 1136 S. Wabash (via Crains)
Chicago developer Keith Giles plans to build a 24-story apartment tower on South Loop land he would buy from the city for $4.4 million.  
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today introduced the potential land sale at 1136-40 S. Wabash Ave. to the City Council, according to a statement released from his office. If the sale is approved, Giles would spend $64 million developing a 280-unit apartment building on the parking lot that now stands on the 19,000-square-foot site, the statement said.
Interestingly enough, it appears that the developer tried to buy the same lot for $8 million in 2009.  Seems strange that the price would get chopped nearly in half given that the real estate market has seemed to improve drastically since 2009.  What do we know...

According to the article the building would have 10,000 square feet of ground level retail space.  As it stands now, this stretch of Wabash (generally from 11th to 14th) is one of the more vibrant areas of the neighborhood.  We only imagine that this building would help that momentum.

As a reminder, their is a rumor reputable rumor floating around that a BBQ restaurant with live music is coming to 1132 S. Wabash (which is just north of where this proposed apartment tower would be).

Development is surely getting hot.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hey Hey - Get Your Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-Shirt

A friendly reminder that the Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-shirts are available for those of you who have recently submitted tips on published posts.   You're now officially eligible to get your t-shirt. If you see your initials below, please send an email to sloopin@gmail.com to let us know you're going to go to Well Future Pharmacy (1442 S. Michigan) to redeem your shirts:
  • AK
  • AT
  • NK
  • MD
  • GS
  • DT
  • AM
  • JL
  • BK
  • @tylereece
  • ESN
  • MR
  • RY
  • SN
  • JB
  • DS
  • AD
  • BS
  • TR
  • SH
  • SC
  • NK
  • KK
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!

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: Sail

A reader writes:
Today some interesting looking pavers are being laid along Roosevelt alongside the elevated bike bath. Some have words, SAIL, EXCAVATION, etc.
(Hat tip: LK!)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
New Construction Walk-up

The Sloopin Open House is a new weekly feature on the site where we highlight some of the more interesting open houses we see every week. We're not claiming they're the best deals or that we would necessarily recommend jumping all over the opportunity, but I doesn't hurt to look, right?

You don't see many new construction, walk-up condo buildings in the Sloop, but here is one.  At the corner of State and Archer (1837 S. State) sits one complete building and another one on the way.

We've actually been to this open house and can attest for the quality construction at this place.  We are also a sucker for the vaulted ceilings and loft space (however, they're claiming the loft is the third bedroom which some people might scoff at).

A potential turn-off could be the close proximity to the EL (the unit sits on a lot right next to it) but if you can get over that, it's worth a look.

This 3bd/2bth penthouse unit is listed at $499K and is having their open house on Sunday (3/22) between noon and 2pm.

The Pains of Living By A Construction Zone

A reader writes:
Besides leaving the streets muddy in the vicinity, this crew has managed to knock down and break a traffic signal at 9th and State. The other lights are now set to flashing red.

As a reminder, this construction zone is due to a new high-rise coming to the southeast corner of State and 9th.

(Hat tip:  JS!)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Out with the Couture, In with the Baby's at Roosevelt Collection

Maybe this is a sign of what are neighborhood is these days - baby gear instead of trendy gear.

It appears that there is some new news at Roosevelt Collection's retail space.

A reader writes:
Well looks like ROC @ Roosevelt Collection might be RIP? Tarps in all the windows... Last week was signs showing 40-70 off everything.

In other retail news, it appears that the baby gear store Carter's is moving into the Roosevelt Collection:

Based on our false alarm (albeit probably a valid warning sign) about Republic of Couture in January we figured we would try to get some confirmation.  This is what a representative from Roosevelt Collection told us:
Republic of Couture has closed this location along with several of their other locations such as Scottsdale, AZ, Omaha, NE, Queens, NY and Oxnard, CA as well as disabling their website. We look forward to gaining back this high quality retail space since demand for new retail in the South Loop has increased and we look forward to welcoming a new tenant in the near future. Our next exciting retailer to join Roosevelt Collection is Carter’s opening at the end of March, along with our restaurant tenants planning openings for this Summer.

(Hat tip: SH, SC, NK, KK!)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Sociale" & "Cafe Press" Apparently the Names of the Two New Spots Coming to Polk and Clark

As you probably recall, we did a post about two new restaurants coming to the recently completed AMLI Lofts at Polk and Clark.  A couple readers have sent us information and provided updates.  One writes:
You posted a while ago about 2 restaurants (Mediterranean tapas and a cafe) coming to the retail space inside the new AMLI Lofts at Clark/Polk. Late this week the spaces were covered in decals advertising the two spots with names and some details.
Looks like the Mediterranean place will be called “Sociale” and the cafe will be “Cafe Press” , which disappointingly reminds me of the website for ordering custom-printed crappy swag with the same name.

Both are listed as opening Summer 2015, but so far restaurants on Clark St have had a pretty bad track record for opening on time. First Draft opened a year and a half after their original intended open date, and the new Villains seems to be still stuck in limbo (liquor license problems I expect).
We know the AMLI lofts are signing leases (shout-out to CG!) and it looks like these residents will have some new places to get their grub on as well.

As a reminder, these spots will be run by the Good Eats Group, which also just opened up Burger Bar at Roosevelt and Michigan.

(Hat tip: AD, BS, TR!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Villains Gets Their Licenses for New Location at 730 S. Clark

Via Eater Chicago:
It looks like Sloopers won't have much longer to wait for Villains' long-gestating new location to open, as licenses were issued on March 12. No official word has come from representatives yet and there's no telling if chef Dennis Stover is still in the picture, having come on board well over a year ago.

As a reminder, Villain's abruptly closed and apparently lost their lease at 649 S. Clark way back in 2012.  They subsequently announced their return to South Clark in 2013 and officially began their build out in 2014.

Hopefully this means they'll be opening soon!

(Hat tip:  DS!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NFL Draft to Close Down Much of Grant Park and Some Streets for 2 Weeks

The NFL draft and it festivities are invading the Sloop this spring.  We all knew that the NFL draft was a prestige event, a feather in the city's proverbial hat, but we weren't really sure what the city had to do to have the honor of hosting the event.

Interactive Map of NFL Draft Festivities (via Tribune)
Well it seems like they pretty much had to hand over Grant Park for awhile and some more according to a Chicago Tribune article:
City records show much of Grant Park is reserved for two weeks, as well as a key stretch of Congress Parkway between Michigan Avenue and Wabash Avenue. Adding to the possible congestion on May 2 will be the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade, which has been rerouted to accommodate the draft.  
A park district spokeswoman confirmed the NFL's tentative reservations for the park, as well as Congress Parkway between Michigan and Wabash, from April 24 to May 6. Congress, from Michigan to Columbus, is expected to be closed by April 25, according to records obtained by the Tribune via a public records request.  
The draft starts in less than seven weeks, running April 30 through May 2, but many details, including transportation, parking and road closures, have yet to be announced. City, local tourism officials and the NFL have said many aspects have yet to be finalized.

While this isn't unheard of (see Lollapalooza, Obama Election Night, Taste of Chicago) it does tend to provide a huge traffic nightmare for those of us around the area.

For football fans, the headache is probably worth the inconvenience to experience this unusual event.  For the city, the opportunity to showoff our "front-yard" through the this highly rated television event is also probably pretty enticing.

We will be paying close attention to see if all the hype is worth it.

What do you think?  Is the city doing the right thing here?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Fugitive Map:
Sloop Home to One Memorable Scene; One Not So Much

One of our favorite movies of all time is The Fugitive!  Not sure if it's considered a classic by most, but for Chicagoans it seems like many view it favorably due to the fact that it was shot in our glorious city (and it was an entertaining story - right?!?!?!).

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to draft off of a fun thing the peeps at Curbed Chicago recently did.  They outlined all the Chicago spots that the film utilized.

In regard to the Sloop, the final and (arguably) most climatic sequence of the movie was actually shot in the South Loop at the Hilton Towers at 720 S. Michigan:
Kimble was on his way to confront Nichols. You see there was no forced entry when his wife was killed. That was because Nichols had his keys and let Sykes into the house. Gerard and his team have figured this out. All of the main players still able to walk converge on the site of the pharmaceutical convention, where Nichols is delivering the keynote, which Kimble interrupts. The two fight inside the building and then make their way to the roof. After falling down an elevator shaft, the fight ends when Kimble takes out Nichols in the hotel’s laundry room. In an emotionally charged scene, Kimble tells Gerard, “They killed my wife” and Gerard replies “I know it.” Gerard escorts Kimble from the hotel and puts him in a car. Once in the car, Gerard removes the handcuffs and they drive away. If you have never watched the movie to the end of the credits, please do, for there is a little treat there.

It appears that there was also a scene at the former Meigs Field (now a nature preserve on Northerly Island).  The article states:
Having left the local authorities to find Kimble’s body – alive or dead – Gerard and his team board a plane to head back to Chicago, though the airport terminal seen is Meigs Field, which no longer exists. The runway was demolished March 30, 2003.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the movie we highly suggest reading the post.

We promise Dr. Richard Kimble would approve of you reading this!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: Fire of the Dragon

A reader took a recent shot that shows the carnage of the fire that raged at the retail at Cermak and State back on 12/31/14:
I was walking to the new Cermak Green Line stop this morning and noticed one of the boards was missing on where the windows used to be on the burned out Dragon Fire Asian Grill place. I peaked inside and took this photo. 

(Hat tip: JB!)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Spiraling Up and Down a 2bd in Printer's Row

The Sloopin Open House is a new weekly feature on the site where we highlight some of the more interesting open houses we see every week. We're not claiming they're the best deals or that we would necessarily recommend jumping all over the opportunity, but I doesn't hurt to look, right?

The Sloop is full of old buildings that have been turned to into Lofts.  What some Lofts lack in practicality, they often make up in uniqueness and character.  This appears to be true in this 2br/1bth in Printer's Row at 727 S. Dearborn.

After browsing the pictures of this unit, it's hard to really understand the flow of the place, but one thing is clear...that spiral stair case is interesting!

If you agree, then you can head over to this building on Sunday (3/15) and take a look in person from 1-3pm.

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Friends of the Parks" Receives Good News in Battle Over Proposed Site for Lucas Museum Museum of Narrative Arts

Propose Luca Museum just South of Soldier Field
Greg Hinz at Crains has an update on the legal battle for the proposed Lucas Museum just south of Soldier Field.  The article is heavy on the legalese but apparently means that the museum and city will have a hard fight moving forward:
The proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art hit heavy legal turbulence today as a federal judge kept alive a lawsuit designed to block the project and hinted that a change in state law ultimately may be needed if the facility is to be built on a lakefront site just south of Soldier Field.  
In a ruling that likely will roil Chicago politics, U.S. District Court Judge John Darrah pretty much gave Friends of the Parks everything it wanted in its suit—short of a final decision.  
Specifically, he held that Friends of the Parks, which has sued to block the proposed project, had legal standing to sue and provided enough proof that the city's action is improper for legal proceedings to continue.  
Probably the most interesting aspect of the decision was the suggestion that, even though the museum would go on what now are parking lots, the state's responsibility to administer the land remains valid since the property involved is landfill and once was covered by Lake Michigan.

If this continues, it seems like there is decent chance Lucas reassesses his options and most likely would move his museum somewhere else.  Some probably are happy about this.  Some sad.  Most probably indifferent.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dice Dojo Opens in Motor Row at 2134 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
Long time listener, first time caller. Wanted to let you know of a new shop I noticed that opened at Michigan just north of Cermak, Dice Dojo. It's their 2nd location, looks like an interesting social spot for board/strategy type games (but their website could probably explain it better than I can). 
I am not associated with this store, I was just surprised to stumble across it while walking to check out the new Green Line stop and thought others might be interested to learn about it.
This one came out of the blue and seems kinda strange.

Best of luck to them and welcome to the Sloop!

(Hat tip:  RY, SN!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

OMG Spa Opens at 1620 S. Michigan; Elements Massage Build-out Progressing Quickly

And now an update on the Sloop's Michigan Avenue "Spa Corridor".

OMG Spa has officially opened at 1620 S. Michigan.  The picture above was shot this past weekend.  Lights are on.  Customers are getting their nails did and so on.  Congrats to them.

In other spa news, the Elements Massage build-out at the northwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt is well underway.  Signs are up and the interior looks pretty complete.  Seems like they'll be opening shortly as well.

2015 Business Counter has been updated as well.

(Hat tip: ESN and MR!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Small Chopin Garden & Statue to Be Built Between 11th Street Pedestrian Bridge and Michigan Ave. in Grant Park

A new status and garden will be coming to Grant Park in between the 11th street pedestrian bridge and Michigan Avenue according to the Gran Park Conservatory.  The statue and garden pays homage to the Polish virtuoso pianist Frederk Chopin:
The Chopin Statue at the Chopin Garden is a 5/8 replica of the bronze statue found in the Royal Baths Park in Warsaw, Poland. I was designed by Wacław Szymanowski in 1906 but had to wait until 1926 to be erected. During World War II that statue was destroyed by the Nazi's in an effort to break the Polish spirit. Luckily the original mold surivived allowing for the statue to be reproduced and placed at the original location in 1958. The styiized willow echoes Chopin's hand and fingers.
At the statue's base, since 1959, on summer Sunday afternoons are performed free piano recitals of Chopin's compositions. This is a popular tradion attend by both tourists and locals. 
The Chopin Garden project is inspired by the Chopin Statue and piano concerts that occur in the Royal Baths Park. The Chicago Chopin Foundation wants to bring this experience to Grant Park in Chicago. Chopin is a universal figure whose musical gift is celebrated around the world.

Seems like a nice addition to the south portion of Grant Park.

The blueprints seems relatively straight forward:

And it seems only fitting that we conclude this post with a video from one of Chopin's finest. If you're like us, sitting at the office dreading your Tuesday, may we suggest hitting play, closing your eyes and dreaming of a lazy spring Saturday afternoon in Grant Park listening to this:
And now back to the grind...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Interactive Maps and Charts Showcases Median Household Income by CTA Stop

A cool interactive map from the MIT media lab:
This map visualizes the median household income by station along Chicago’s L system.
If you click through to the map it's interactive, but we've grabbed a couple screen shots from Curbed Chicago for the CTA lines that service the Sloop (Green/Orange/Red):
While this might not be shocking to most, it still is an interesting and thought provoking way of looking at household income in Chicago.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Meet Pinky Pie, a 7-Year-Old Female Domestic Shorthair 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 Pinky Pie:
Pinky Pie is a big girl with an even bigger personality. She's the perfect cat for someone who is cat-savvy and familiar with feline behavior. It takes Pinky Pie a bit of time to get adjusted into new environments, and she'd prefer to get comfortable on her own time. She also enjoys being pet, but she will meow or push away when she's had enough affection. This beautiful gal will do best as the only pet in an adult-only household, since she enjoys her space and would prefer to receive attention on her own terms. If you're someone who understands cat behavior and will allow Pinky Pie to be the independent lady that she is, then stop on in to the Everyday Adoption Center and say hello to her today!
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.

The Sloopin Open House:
3bd/2bth with Massive Terrace at Roosevelt and State

This is our third installment of a new reoccurring post we're calling "The Sloopin Open House".  With that said we're going to try to highlight some of the more interesting open houses we see every week.  We're not claiming they're the best deals or that we would necessarily recommend jumping all over an opportunity, but I doesn't hurt to look, right?

This week a three bedroom caught our eye at the corner of Roosevelt and State.  It seems like 3 bedrooms are tough units to find and value (by our estimation).  There are a lot of them on the market, but the pricing seems to be all over the places.  

Anyway, this unit at 1155 S. State is 3bd/2bth priced at $579K (without parking) in a building that always had us scratching our heads.  It just seems like a massive compound with an interesting orientation (a high-rise and three "mid-rise" buildings).  It's also obviously pretty close to the CTA stop, so not sure how loud it is.  Anyway, these things alone sparked our interest and made use want to check it out, but the unit also has some nice features (like this spacious terrace in the picture below): 
The open house is on Sunday from 1-3pm at 1155 S. State.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lakeside Bank Opens at 1350 S. Michigan

They've been open for a little while now, but figured we would officially write that the (twice relocated) Lakeside Bank is open for business at their new building (1350 S. Michigan):

As a reminder, to make way for the construction of the McCormick/DePaul arena at Indiana and Cermak, the city bought land from Lakeside Bank.  As a result, the bank purchased this vacant lot at 14th and Michigan.

While a bank might not be the sexiest business to open in a relatively high-profile lot, the good news is that they clearly invested some serious coin to build a nice building.  It appears that everything is pretty upscale at this building.  The Lakeside Bank sign is relatively subtle even though it has LED lights that change colors at night.  Another relatively interesting design element is the spotlights protruding from the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue.  While some might argue that this is a little invasive, in our POV it's a nice/unique element that adds to the street-scape (and for that matter safety as more light tends to help with that type of thing).

From a pure cosmetic standpoint, our only qualm is the cheap looking screen that hangs over the entry way door.  It seems unnecessary and quite unsightly, but whatever...clearly they see it as being necessary.

Anyway, the bank is open and a nice building has replaced a vacant lot.  Welcome to Michigan Avenue Lakeside Bank!

The 2015 Business counter is updated also.

Be Prepared: Construction Updates for the Jane Bryne Interchange

If you're a driver in the Sloop you've probably experienced some of the headaches of the construction at Jane Bryne Interchange (aka the Circle).  Well looks like it's about to be ratcheted up - be prepared (via Connecting4Communities):
During construction of the interchange flyover, existing expressway ramps will be closed and lanes will be reduced:
  • The ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan expressway (I-90/94) to the outbound Eisenhower expressway (I-290) will remain open but shift to a temporary roadway. 
  • The ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan to inbound Congress will be closed. Traffic will detour from Roosevelt Road to Jefferson to Harrison to Wells. 
  • The ramp from Roosevelt to Congress will be closed, and traffic will follow the Jefferson/Harrison/Wells detour. Traffic for the outbound Eisenhower will detour from Roosevelt west to Ashland and north to Van Buren. 
  • The ramp from Taylor Street to the inbound Dan Ryan will be closed. Traffic will detour north on Jefferson to Adams. 
  • The right lane of the inbound Dan Ryan will be closed from the Stevenson expressway (I-55) to Roosevelt. 
  • The inbound and outbound Stevenson ramps to the Dan Ryan will be reduced from two lanes to one. 
  • Four weekends this summer or fall will see a near-total shutdown of the entire interchange while beams for the flyover are installed. During those weekends, all lanes of the Eisenhower and Congress will be shut down, and an almost two-mile section of the Dan Ryan will be reduced to one lane in each direction. IDOT has not yet determined the four weekends for shutdown. 
  • The flyover is scheduled for completion in July 2016.
(Hat tip: BK!)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spoke & Bird Officially Open at 18th and Indiana

Congrats to the crew at the Spoke & Bird, the new restaurant that took over the space from the quirky Cafe Society.

We've been following this one pretty closely and have been excited for their opening.

It seems like the renovations paid off as the space looks much different and much less hodge-podgey.

It also appears that they've stepped up the culinary game at the spot judging by this menu (posted from the PDNA Facebook page):

While we're excited to try them out, part of our heart is sad.  A Sloopin fave "The Chicken Spinach and Guacamole Wrap" has apparently died.  Such is life...

Rumors Around the Sloop:
BBQ Joint Coming to Renovated 1132 S. Wabash?

We got a good and reputable tip yesterday that the recently remodeled building at 1132 S. Wabash might have a new restaurant moving in.  Our source said that the deal has just gone through and that the restaurant/bar will be a BBQ spot that will also have live music.  The source said "think a mix between Bub City (in River North) and Honky Tonk BBQ (in Pilsen)".

Sounds like they're shooting for a "mid-summer" opening...but let's be honest, that seems aggressive.

Old Advance Uniform Storefront at 1132 S. Wabash
It was also noted that the restaurateurs behind this spot would be the owners of Vinyl (121 W. Hubbard) and Bellweather Meeting House & Eatery (302 E. Illinois).  While we've never been to either of those places, browsing the yelp reviews and pictures has us optimistic.

As a reminder, this building was pretty in pretty bad shape (ahem picture on the right).  The ground floor retail was occupied by Advanced Uniform but they were evicted in 2013 and subsequently moved down to 33 E. 13th Street.

The new owners of the building did an amazing job (don't believe us take a look at their website) and while we've been hearing rumors of a restaurant/bar coming to the ground floor it's been pretty quiet since May of 2014.

Hope this comes to fruition, because our mouths are watering over the idea of some delicious BBQ in the Sloop!
Front of renovated 1132 S. Wabash

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

So About that Grateful Dead Reunion Show (Part 2)....

Remember when we said that this Grateful Dead reunion show was a big "get" for the city and soldier field?  Well if our earlier post wasn't strong enough for you, maybe some of the recent news about the concert's tickets sales will do the trick (via Chicago Tribune):
The good news for die-hard Deadheads who got shut out of the Grateful Dead's reunion concerts July 3-5 at Soldier Field when tickets went on sale over the weekend: Tickets are showing up in droves on the secondary market.  
The bad news: They don't cost the list price of $59.50 and $199.50 (plus service fees) anymore. 
According to online ticket aggregator tiqiq.com, tickets are going for as high as $8,660 for a front-row seat. The average price for a seat is more than $2,000, and three-day passes are selling for an average of more than $4,000. Other sources have reported three-day tickets selling for as high as $15,000.  
The Ticketmaster sale Saturday was moved up to meet demand, apparently before many fans who had requested tickets via mail had been notified by the Grateful Dead ticket office whether their order would be filled. The Dead's website reported that it had received 60,000 envelopes requesting hundreds of thousands of tickets for the reunion shows. Soldier Field capacity is about 60,000. The online sale Saturday briefly crashed Ticketmaster's site, and tickets sold out within minutes.

We unfortunately recently got a letter in the mail notifying us that we didn't get tickets (which wasn't super surprising - clearly).

And if ticket demand isn't indicative of the affects on the city, try to get a hotel room that weekend:
A search of popular travel search engines Expedia and Travelocity for the Dead dates, focusing on the Loop, found that 83 of 85 hotels were sold out.  
The only two options on Monday afternoon were $589 a night for a room at the Holiday Inn Express Chicago-Magnificent Mile, and $689 for a room at a hotel in the Chicago Athletic Association building.
So it seems like there is an opportunity for us Sloopers.  Either stay in the neighborhood and partake in some partying or sign up for airbnb and rent your place out and make some cash.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Au Bon Pain Opens Today at East-West University at 829 S. Wabash

Looks like Au Bon Pain is officially opening today via an email that was sent to us:
I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that the Au Bon Pain in our Student Life Center at 829 S. Wabash is opening tomorrow. Finally! Let me know if you want any info.

If you still don't believe us maybe this tweet from their handle will persuade you (and maybe get you some free coffee):

2015 Business Counter is up to date as well.

(Hat tip:  JL!)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hand & Stone Spa Now Open for Some Relaxation

It's time to check-in on our budding South Loop "Spa Corridor".  We just got word on some news:
The Hand & Stone team wants to let you know that we are officially open for appointments on March 1st. We offer massage, facials and hair removal services and have extended hours to fit our customers’ schedules. We have a great introductory offer of $49.95 for a massage or facial. We also offer a Lifestyle Program that includes great pricing, product discounts and membership rewards.  
We have parking discounts in the building at 1130 as well.
Now you can eat some delicious food at Yolk and stumble over to Hand & Stone for some relaxing spa treatments.  Seems like a pretty good day to us.

Best of luck to them and welcome to the Sloop.

The 2015 Business Counter has been updated as well.