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.

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