Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Private Collection of Art and Automobiles to Come to Restored Marmon Grand Building at 2230 S. Michigan

We recently saw an interesting post on the Prairie District Neighbors Association facebook page:

We're pretty sure that some rich dude has a private showroom for his cars somewhere in the vicinity of Motor Row currently.  Maybe he's relocating them to this building and will open it to the public?  One can dream.  Anyone have any insight on this?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sociale and Cafe Press Open at Polk and Clark

Counter at Cafe Press (800 S. Clark)
Via Curbed Chicago:
The folks behind Burger Bar have brought a new two-in-one concept to the South Loop. Cafe Press and Sociale—a daytime coffee shop and cafe on one side and a Mediterranean small plate restaurant and wine bar on the other—officially opened on Friday on South Clark Street, and neighborhood residents hungry for more restaurants and cafes are already flocking.  
The 22-seat Cafe Press serves Sparrow coffee drinks, sandwiches, pastries, salads, smoothies and teas in the morning and afternoon. On the other side, the 120-seat Sociale has an array of Mediterranean hot and cold small plates, entrees, wine and cocktails in the evenings. Check out photos of both settings above.

We actually stumbled upon the restaurants "soft opening" last Thursday in need of a quick dinner option.  While we were interested in the restaurant, we need the quickness of a carry-out counter and opted for a falafel sandwich and chicken panini at Cafe Press.

While it wasn't blazingly fast, it was opening day after all.  The chicken panini was enjoyed, the falafel sandwich was not as much.  Regardless, we will be back to check out Sociale and give Cafe Press another shot (after all, the name screams coffee, not necessarily dinner sandwich).

Business Counter is updated.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Solo Eye Care Celebrates 10 Years in the Sloop

Wanted to quickly post and say congrats to Solo Eye Care (1444 S. Michigan) on their 10th Anniversary.  We've had the good fortune of being patients of the practice and have had fantastic experiences over the years.  Dr. Steinmetz and his wife, Nicole, are great people who have been instrumental in the neighborhood throughout the years.

Congrats to them and Solo Eye Care:
Solo Eye Care is celebrating their 10 year anniversary in the Sloop! SoLo Eye Care & Eyewear Gallery was founded in 2005 as the first full service eye care practice in Chicago’s then new South Loop Community. SoLo Eye Care was developed as a fusion of medicine and fashion. They offer medical eye care services in a boutique environment featuring personalized customer service with a focus on the art and science of eyewear selection. SoLo Eye Care is the former home of the first Ford Motor Company outside the city of Detroit and is a designated landmark building by the city of Chicago. Great care was taken in the renovation process to reveal a chic art gallery feel while preserving the character of the space.  
This past weekend Dr. Bob Steinmetz, the owner of SoLo Eye Care, was honored as the 2015 Illinois Optometrist of Year. This award is the highest honor bestowed on an optometrist in Illinois. The award recognizes outstanding service and dedication to the principles of professional optometry and service to his or her patients and community.  
Dr. Steinmetz is a member of several concussion study teams at the Illinois Eye Institute in Bronzeville. He is actively involved in concussion research and the impact of traumatic brain injury on the ocular structure and function of professional boxers and NFL players.  
Five years ago, Dr. Bob founded the Southside Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships to needy student athletes that wish to attend private grammar schools and high schools on the south side of Chicago.  
Last year, Dr. Steinmetz and his wife Nicole (the managing partner of Kroll’s South Loop) were honored with the Good Neighbor Award for their volunteer work and support of Old St. Mary’s Church and School. 

Thanks for all you do for the Sloop!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Modern Penthouse Loft Living in Printers Row

Now that your real estate mind has been blown with the amazing amount of new construction units that may be coming to the hood, we figured we would try to find a unique unit that couldn't be replicated by new construction.

This unit is pretty.  Features include multi-level living, a huge terrace with skyline views and a comprehensive remodel of the entire place.

While all this sounds good, it obviously is also reflected in the price.  The unit is listed at $650K with home owners association dues of $1,336/month.  It also appears that the unit doesn't have parking.

So while it might not be the most practical purchase or best deal for a 2 bedroom unit, it would be a nice place to live if money ain't a thang.

Check-it out this Sunday (9/27) from 1-3pm.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Soil Testing Underway at Vacant Lot at Polk & Financial

A reader writes:
I have attached a photo of some soil testing going on at the lot south of the British School. I believe the lot is zoned for a 40 story building presently???  
Add this to the CMK north and south of RC along Wells and the town homes south side of 801 S Wells and the tower already permitted for the northwest corner of RC.... 1000s of units going into 2 or 3 blocks at Polk and Wells essentially.  
City will need to do something soon regarding Wentworth connection, Taylor bridge and underpass at 9th and

While this would typically be exciting, given all the news this week, this frankly seems expected.

These days, it seems like every vacant lot in the broader Sloop has some activity.

Regardless, thanks for peeping this out and if anyone has additional info on this lot please let us know.

(Hat tip:  SE!)

86 Story Helmut Jahn Tower Unveiled for 1000 S. Michigan

What can we say - it's been quite the real estate week here in the Sloop.

It appears there is a race into the sky with a variety of ambitious proposals.  Earlier this week the Rafael Viñoly/Crescent Heights project at Michigan and Roosevelt was the talk of the town.  Fast forward to yesterday and an even taller building was proposed for 1000 S. Michigan (from Curbed Chicago) and is getting a ton of attention:
Not only is Helmut Jahn the architect behind a new tower planned for 1000 S. Michigan Avenue in the South Loop, but this new building is expected to stand at a whopping 86 stories — a height that would make this one of the tallest buildings in Chicago.  
According to Crain's and the drawings, the tower is expected to contain both rentals and condos, but the exact breakdown between these residences is not known. It's also unknown when this new 86-story tower proposal will be presented to the public, but a community meeting may not be too far off. With a flurry of new exciting proposals, the South Loop area is one to truly keep an eye on in the coming months.

Honestly, we're at a loss for words.

It's frankly amazing how quickly development/proposals are popping up.  While this seems exciting, there are a million of questions that are swirling in our heads.

The main one - how is there enough demand for this many new units?

Things are surely getting interesting and we are curious to see how it all plays out.  Stay tuned.

(Hat tip:  Deb, MKR, PS!)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Renovation of Essex Inn To Accompany 48 Story Tower Next Door?

In case you haven't had enough real estate news this week, here is another one from The Chicago Architecture Blog:
South Loop Spy David hit the tip line to let us know that the Essex Inn is asking the city for permission not only to renovate, but to expand. 
He received a letter from the developer’s lawyer detailing the proposal. It wants to refurbish the existing 15-story tower at 800 South Michigan Avenue, and then replace the low-rise portion immediately to the south with a 48-story residential tower. 
The new building would have 400 residences above parking and ground-floor retail space. There’s not much space here, so there’s a chance that we won’t see an off-the-shelf Chicago parking podium followed by a tower. This could be more like 200 North Michigan where the non-tower portion is remarkably minimal compared to its contemporaries going up across the city. But what might 48 stories of building look like pressed up against Grant Park? We’re glad you asked:

As you may recall, the Essex Inn was actually bought by Oxford Capital Group LLC (which is the group behind the 5-Star hotel The Langham) back in November of 2014.  Things have been pretty quiet since then, but this is the first major news we've heard on what they might have in store.

Taylor Street Bridge to be Reestablished at Some Point?

CMK/Lend Lease plans for vacant land along Wells Street
just north of Roosevelt Road (via Curbed Chicago)
To follow-up on a post we did last week on the CMK/Lend Lease's plans for the vacant lots on Wells street just north of Roosevelt, Curbed Chicago had a good post with more deets:
CMK's plans for the south stretch of riverfront property includes three residential high-rises as well as 62 townhomes. Two of the towers will be located at the north end of the site, adjacent to the existing River City building. The two towers will then flank a dedicated right-of-way for the reestablishment of a bridge crossing the river at Taylor Street. The third high-rise would be placed alongside the Roosevelt Road viaduct. Between the taller buildings would stand clusters of townhouses arranged into nine stand-alone buildings with courtyard layouts which would open towards Wells Street. Additional townhomes would also be included into the bases of the high-rise towers to screen the parking levels from view. A total of 942 residential units is planned for the southern stretch of land, which CMK does not need a zoning change for. Since the original Planned Development concept included allowances for high-rise structures and 1054 units beyond the 446 in River City's first phase, this unveiling was only a courtesy presentation to the Plan Commission and no formal vote was taken.
While this is all pretty interesting, the comment about the "reestablishment of a bridge crossing the river at Taylor Street" has big potential (some would argue good and some would argue bad).

The area east of the Chicago river, west of Clark, south of Harrison and North of Roosevelt ain't easy to access right now.  That's going to change whenever the Wells/Wentworth connector gets going, but having another east/west access point from Taylor will also reconnect this part of the neighborhood to the typical city grid.

10-15 years, this part of the Sloop is going to feel completely different.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Check out "Chicagohenge" This Week!

A cool phenomenon (via Chicago Tribune):
Twice a year, during the spring and fall equinoxes, the rising and setting sun lines up with Chicago's east-west street grid, creating spectacular photo opportunities as the sun is framed within Chicago's skyline. Early risers and those out and about before sunset will be able to see the phenomenon, weather permitting.
So what do you need to do:

WHEN TO SEE IT This Wednesday, officially the first day of fall, offers one of the best days to view Chicagohenge, according to Michelle Nichols, master educator for the Adler Planetarium. Take a look shortly after sunrise (about 6:39 a.m.) and before sunset (about 6:47 p.m.). 
If you miss it Wednesday, or if the weather doesn't cooperate, the phenomenon will be visible for about a week after the equinox, Nichols said. And if you completely miss it this fall, it will be visible again in the spring, so mark your calendars for the spring equinox on March 19, 2016.
The city's rigid east-west grid pattern means that just about any east-west street works, but a street without many obstructions would be best. Skyscrapers in the Loop will offer some of the choicest framing opportunities. 
If you want to observe Chicagohenge with Adler astronomers, you can attend the “Scopes in the City on The 606 at Ridgeway Ave." event they are holding at the western trailhead of The 606 trail from about 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. You will be able to see the setting sun through cutouts in the Exelon Observatory, designed by artist Frances Whitehead.

So while the Loop is probably the best vantage point to see this, if you're in the Sloop it wouldn't hurt to simply look at the sunrise/sunset.

New, Free Photo Exhibit Opened at Roosevelt University's Gage Gallery

A reader sent us an event at Roosevelt University and it brought to our attention that they have a free gallery - which we didn't know:
Now entering its 15th year, Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery has been cited as one of the top photo galleries in Chicago by Chicago Magazine, New City and the Chicago Reader. Free and open to the public, Gage Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Anyway, here is some more background: 
Roosevelt University presents groundbreaking photos by Art Shay TroubleMakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay documents four decades of freedom struggles in Chicago A groundbreaking documentary photo exhibit that sheds new light on protest movements in Chicago between the late 1940s and early 1970s will be presented this fall from Sept. 17 to Dec. 19 at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.  
The exhibit features the work of Art Shay, one of the world’s great living photographers. Shay opened his mammoth archive in Deerfield, Ill., to Roosevelt University historian Erik Gellman, whose research focuses on 20th Century protest movements in America.  
“The provocative photos in this exhibit, most of which have never been seen before, are likely to change what we know and how we think about protest movements in Chicago,” said Gellman, the show’s curator. Gellman spent the last year culling photos from Shay’s archives.  
Early Cold War protests, Chicago’s Freedom Movement marches, the 1968 Vietnam War demonstrations, photographs of Richard J. Daley and the Chicago police, as well as struggles by the Black Power Movement, are featured in the show that opens at 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at Gage. The opening night reception includes a dialogue with Shay.

(Hat tip:  LJ!)

Introducing the "Sloopin Development Tracker"

Well apparently were back in the boom times for real estate development.  What the future holds who knows.  But one thing is clear, it's hard to keep track of it all...until now!

Similar to our mildly popular "Sloopin Business Counter", we're introducing a new interactive google map that outlines potential, proposed and under construction real estate projects.  We're calling it our "Sloopin Development Tracker".

We captured a bunch of developments, but if we're missing something please let us know:
All in all, we're counting at least 25 developments with 8 of them currently under construction.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Real Estate Rendering Reveal Season at 3rd Ward Town Hall

We know real estate development is hot, but if developers have their way it's going to be on fire.

Tonight, Alderman Dowel hosted a 3rd Ward Townhall meeting and while we didn't get a chance to go, we've been trying out best to stay informed thanks to others who have been posting on various social media outlets (big hat tip to DavidLMathews & Justin Breen).  While we imagine there will be quite a bit of coverage on the topics tomorrow, we wanted to help reveal some of the proposed buildings:

The juciest of them all is a gigantic two tower plan for the vacant land on Roosevelt (between Michigan and Indiana).  The project is from developer Crescent Heights, who has been very active in the South Loop.  There has been a lot of speculation about this property, but this is the most concrete thing we've seen:
Proposed high-rise at Roosevelt and Michigan (via David Lee Mathews)
While it's a unique building, judging by this picture it seems pretty bulky to us.  In terms of height, One Museum Park (pictured all the way on the left) is 62 stories, so this looks like it would be 80+.  Stay tuned for more deets on this one.

Additional Links to Renderings/Details about Crescent Heights Plan:
  • 'Iconic' Proposal Calls for Twin Towers, One 76 Stories Tall, In South Loop - DNAinfo
  • At 76 stories, proposed apartment tower would be tallest in South Loop - Crain's (paywall)

Proposed 48 Story apartment building at 1320 S. Michigan (via David Lee Mathews)
While clearly this is a much smaller high-rise than the Crescent Heights one above, this design seems more elegant and interesting to us.

Additional Links to Renderings/Details about 1320 S. Michigan Proposal:

Finally, it also sounds like another developer is hoping to make a splash on the 2100 South block of Wabash (where The Shrine nightclub currently sits and some retail tenants):
proposed building at 2100 S. Wabash (via David Lee Mathews)
This one looks pretty basic to us.  What's more interesting is that they would presumably tear down a variety of smaller buildings to build this.  The rendering makes it seem like it would stretch from Cermak up to 21st street along the east side of Wabash.  

Additional Links to Renderings/Details about 2100 S. Wabash Proposal:
  • New Green Line Station Attracts New South Loop Apartment Tower - The Chicago Architecture Blog
  • Apartment/Hotel Project Proposed for South Loop, Would Displace The Shrine - DNAinfo

All in all, it's pretty crazy how much development is being planned for the broader South Loop neighborhood again.  While overall we're pro development, it seems crazy to think there is enough demand to support all these units.

It's also slightly concerning how many people these buildings would bring to the neighborhood mostly from a traffic standpoint.  On the flip side, more people means more retail and restaurants.  

So yeah...stay tuned and dare we say it........bubble?

Oh...People Live in Tents in the Sloop on the Chicago River????

A sense of community has developed in the South Loop tent city (via New City)
We've heard about these people, but honestly have never seen them ourselves (granted we haven't looked that hard).  Newcity has a fun read about this phenomenon:
Chicago’s first non-Native American settler was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.  
Du Sable established a farm on the Chicago River in the 1780s. By the 1820s, trappers, traders and “squatters” began a larger settlement at the convergence of the three branches of the river, then an empty prairie named after the local wildlife, Wolf Point.  
Almost two-hundred years later, a new encampment has sprung up on the South Branch of the Chicago River, stretching from Harrison Street to Bertrand Goldberg’s River City development, a swath of 6.6 acres of open land known as Franklin Point. Instead of cabins, residents live in brightly colored nylon tents. Food is “gathered” via donations and trips to fast food restaurants. While the wolves have long vanished, the tent residents are wary of thieves and an occasional visit by the police.  
Yet these people still live their lives largely outdoors, enduring the wind, rain and Chicago winters in the same way riverfront settlers, squatters and hobos have throughout the city’s history, from Wolf Point to infamous encampments on Goose Island and now, the South Loop.  
“My wife and I have been here for three, well, more like five years,” says a man called Joe as he emerges from the riverbank. “We make friends with the dog walkers who help us out and one guy comes with a truck and brings us cases of water and peanut butter. Otherwise, we panhandle or get food from the dollar menu.”

Strange, but interesting??????

Monday, September 21, 2015

Broken Glass Everywhere, If It Ain't About Violent Crime Do The Police Care?

A reader writes:
I'm not sure if this is blog-worthy, but I walk around the south loop for about an hour pretty much every day around lunch time and I have noticed one stretch of road that ALWAYS has cars with windows busted out (the east side of Indiana between Spoke and Bird and the parking lot just south of the Clark House Museum/Chicago Women's park). I have been living in the area for about 2 years now and as long as I can remember, there is fresh broken glass on the ground on that stretch of road.

Usually, the only sign of the crime is shattered glass all over the ground. Today though, as I was walking, I actually saw a guy returning to his brand new Acura SUV that had the passenger window busted out... then about 20 feet away, I saw another car that had a window was busted out, but the owner hadn't returned to their car yet. For some reason, it struck a nerve with me today and I decided make a video to show all of the broken glass. 
I'm wondering if anybody else has noticed that this is going on and if there's anything we can do about it? 
When I have guests, I don't want them to be afraid to park in my neighborhood! Here's the video I took... all of it takes place between Spoke and Bird and the parking lot just south of the Clark House Museum/Chicago Women's park:
He also followed-up with:
UPDATE: I also contacted the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance and within minutes, I got this response from them: "Alderman Dowell has notified the Police Commander and requested extra attention to the block overnights and Streets and San has been asked to go by and clean up the glass."

I guess we'll see if this makes a difference going forward.
Well we don't like to see this and imagine you don't either.  While our reader has already taken the initiative to get his voice heard, we would highly encourage you to help him and the neighborhood by emailing Alderman Dowell ( to put a little more urgency behind this problem.

Oh and sorry for our attempt at a catchy headline (Grandmaster Flash anyone?).
(Hat tip:  BB!)

48 Story Residential High-Rise Coming to Vacant Lot at 1320 S. Michigan?

Vacant lot at 1320 S. Michigan to be developed into 48 Story Residential High-Rise?

A reader writes and sends us a "Chicago Zoning Ordinance Amendment Request":

If you can't read the letter above, the main paragraph we found interesting was:
The proposed zoning amendment is to plan the development of the property with a Residential Business Planned Development with Sub-Areas A, B and C.  Sub-Area A is proposed to be developed with a 48 story residential building with a zoning height of 495' containing 500 units, retails space on the ground floor and 240 on-site parking spaces.  The existing 1 story retail building and 7 story residential building Sub-Area B and the 2 story bank building in sub-Area C will remain.

This is the first we're hearing of this vacant lot getting developed.  It seems like every week we're hearing about a new high-rise or development that's coming.  Does this seem familiar to anyone else (ahem early aughts)?

Regardless, it's exciting.  More and more units, presumably means more and more people and more and more businesses (yes we used more 6x in that sentence).

It appears that the applicant is SMAT, LLC.  We did some googling but didn't find much.  Anyone have any additional scoop?

(Hat tip:  GS!)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Bricks on Bricks on Bricks

Repeat after us - exposed brick adds character, exposed brick adds character, exposed brick add character...

We like bricks and if you do, then this 1 bed / 1bath at 1528 S. Wabash might be worth a gander.  This loft style unit also has 11' ceilings which is also a nice bonus.  The unit is listed at $250K for those interested in money.

It's also a corner unit, but is in pretty close proximity to the El, so make sure you're cool with that.

They're doing an open house on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2pm.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Rendering and Details Unveiled for Development on Chicago River Just North of Roosevelt Road

A rendering of a building that
would be on the east side of
the Chicago River between
River City and Roosevelt Road
(via Crains).
CMK and Lend Lease reveal their plans for lot on the Chicago River, just north of Roosevelt Road (via Crain's):
Three months after proposing 2,700 homes just north of the River City housing project, a Chicago development group is teeing up more than 900 units just south of it.  
The joint venture between Chicago developer CMK and Australian construction company Lend Lease Group today unveiled plans for a three-tower development on the east side of the Chicago River between River City and Roosevelt Road.  
The project would include 942 units, comprising condominiums, apartments and townhomes, about 1.6 acres of open space with a riverwalk, said CMK President Colin Kihnke. The CMK group bought the development site, currently a parking lot and vacant land along Wells Street, in December and February but had kept mum on its specific plans for the property.  
“What's really exciting to us is the ability to activate Wells Street, create open space and engage the Chicago River through the creation of a 1,000-foot riverwalk,” Kihnke said today before presenting his plan to the Chicago Plan Commission.
What's not clear in the article is how the development will integrate with Roosevelt Road and whether or not their will be retail.  Obviously there are bigger city planning questions about the Wells/Wentworth connector project, but this plan doesn't give us any hints as to the city's plans.

In terms of the design in general, the rendering looks interesting.  Definitely better than many of CMK's other designs (ahem 1333 S. Wabash) in the neighborhood.

(Hat tip:  NO!)

And here is the New Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Renderings...

Chicago Tribune sums up what's changed at the plan for the new Lucas Museum:
Three theaters instead of four. More green space and a smaller building footprint. Less parking. More windows. 
There are an array of differences, many subtle, some dramatic, between the original plans for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the new, more detailed proposal unveiled Thursday. 
But the core elements of the lakefront project remain unchanged, including the presence of a futuristic-looking museum between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Chicago's lakefront to showcase famed film director George Lucas' art and film-related collection. The building also would include a library, classrooms, a rooftop observation deck, event space, galleries and an outside pavilion accessible via a curving, tree-lined path.
The pictures are pretty and yes, this design might be better than the original, but we echo Blair Kamin's thoughts:
The big question — whether this project will enhance or detract from the lakefront's openness — remains unanswered. That should be patently unacceptable to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who told me recently that his key criteria for projects like this are "open, accessible and green." 
Much more needs probing, like whether the museum would worsen already-maddening Lake Shore Drive traffic jams on Bears game days and other times. That seems like a sure bet, what with Bacigalupi predicting that annual attendance could exceed 1 million. But there's no completed traffic study yet. Aldermen should demand one before they vote. It's their lakefront — and ours.

The other thing that has changed is apparently there is not going to be a new bridge to access Northerly Island:
A proposed pedestrian bridge that was to link the museum to nearby Northerly Island wisely has been ditched. It would have cluttered the lakefront.
So what do you think?  We're still not sold...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Stop Telling Women to Smile" Mural Comes To Wabash Arts Corridor

New Mural at 8th and Wabash
Chicago Reader checks in on one of the latest additions to the Wabash Arts Corridor:
Three years ago Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started a mural project to bring attention to the street harassment of women. The series, "Stop Telling Women to Smile," features the stoic faces of those who've felt uncomfortable and unsafe while walking their city's streets. The latest addition to the series, commissioned by Columbia College, includes the faces of local women peering out over the corner of Eighth and Wabash. 
"It happens everywhere," Fazlalizadeh says of catcalling and other forms of verbal harassment toward women. "When I first started traveling with ["Stop Telling Women to Smile"], I thought I would find a lot of differences, but I really didn't."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What's the Status of the Roosevelt Road Construction Project?

A reader writes:
I would sure love to see some coverage of the Roosevelt Road bike lane that was written about close to a year ago. You may recall that the narrowing of Roosevelt Road (and the traffic bottlenecks that have resulted) were also supposed to result in the city’s first “raised bike lane.” The city has not delivered. Although there is a wide sidewalk, there is no bike lane. I have written to Alderman Dowell twice about this, and I have not received any response.
Others may know more information, but it's our understanding that the project isn't completely done yet.  Yes, most of the major changes are, but some of the cosmetic ones aren't (such as painting the bike lane).

In regard to your comment about the city not delivering the "raised bike lane", we understand the confusion.  Right now, it appears that the north sidewalk between Wabash and Indiana has simply been widened.  However, that sidewalk is actually two "sidewalks" separated by trees and benches.  The raised bike lane is there - it's just not clearly marked yet.

More frustratingly to us is that pedestrians don't respect that it's a bike lane and are pretty much using it as a sidewalk like you're suggesting.  Maybe the markings will help, but we are doubtful

Like we said before, we're reserving judgement until the entire project is done.  However, we understand why many people are scratching their heads.

(Hat tip:  HBH!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Confirmation: Portillo's Intends to Open in the Sloop During 1st Half of 2016

Last week it seemed likely that Portillo's would be opening up in the Sloop, but yesterday DNAinfo get confirmation from the restaurant:
Portillo's confirms it's planning a South Loop store that the restaurant chain hopes to open next year.

Nick Scarpino, director of marketing for the Oak Brook-based chain, confirmed the company's building permit application for 520 W. Taylor St., which was first reported last week by DNAinfo Chicago.  
Portillo's hopes to schedule a city hearing next month and open the new restaurant in the first half of 2016, Scarpino said.  
"Chicagoans have been asking us to open a restaurant south of our existing [River North] restaurant for years," he said via e-mail. "We like the area a lot: it's undergoing a lot of great development and has a terrific mix of business, residential, and university populations."

Two things.  One, good to see this confirmation.  Two, we also like the optimism on the area.  The Sloop is on the up and up (which you probably already knew).

Monday, September 14, 2015

15-Story Micro Apartment Building Proposed for Small Vacant Lot at Polk and Dearborn

Well this sounds interesting and promising (via Curbed Chicago):
Local developers LG Construction + Development are proposing a 15-story apartment building to be squeezed into a quarter-acre plot of undeveloped land across from Dearborn Station in Printer's Row, and for a tiny lot come tiny apartments. Averaging around 350 square feet, these studio units will feature a high-end design and finishings meant to entice young professionals or empty-nesters into adopting a type of living that's only just now beginning to take hold in Chicago. These ultra-compact homes, sometimes known as micro apartments, often require a bit of a lifestyle adjustment to fully embrace but are popular in other cities when they offer convenient locations in areas that might be too expensive to live in a larger unit. Given Printer's Row's close proximity to the Loop, office workers might appreciate living someplace minutes from downtown for just over $1,000 a month without needing roommates and with higher-end design.
The building would also have 1,300 square feet of retail space facing Dearborn street which would be a nice addition to one of the most intriguing retail strips in the Sloop.

But more importantly, the concept seems very practical for the neighborhood.  As more and more people and housing options continue to come to the Sloop it seems like rental prices continue to climb.  Having a different price point and type of layout seems interesting for the neighborhood because there seems to be a lot of the same currently:

Also, while many people like using this space as an unofficial dog park or like the charm of a seasonal Christmas tree lot, the fact is that it's a lot (albeit a small one) that has an excellent location in the heart of Printer's Row.

Could be interesting...we shall see.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: Spotted #4 - Keep Havin A Good Day

For more:
Keep Havin A Good Day! #1
Keep Havin A Good Day! #2
Keep Havin A Good Day! #3

(Hat tip:  SS!)

Mmm.....Portillo's - Popular Hot Dog/Burger Joint May Be Opening in the Sloop!

520 W. Taylor (corner of NE Taylor and Clinton)
We've gotten a ton of emails on this topic, so safe to assume South Loop Chicago Hot Dog fans are crossing their fingers, the amazingly popular restaurant Portillo's may be opening up in the Sloop (via NBC Chicago):
Fans of Portillo's rejoice: a new restaurant may be opening in the South Loop. The chain applied for a building permit at 520 W. Taylor St. last week, according to city records. The restaurant would be the second location in the city. 
In April, the Oak Brook-based chain also applied for a permit in Gurnee, which is set to open in November. 
A request for comment from NBC Chicago to Portillo’s wasn’t immediately returned.
Seems pretty indicative that this is going to happen, but until it does...we will be drooling like homer:

(Hat tip:  PA, RB, JM, MT, RW, BLK, ER!)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
1600 Square Feet on 16th Street

We've walked by this building at 77 East 16th many a time but cannot remember ever seeing a unit for sale.  Not to say that haven't been, just we haven't seen them.

So when browsing the open houses this week, unit number #2 appeared on our search and caught our eye.  While $380K ain't cheap for a 2bd/2bth, 1600 square feet is also quite big for a 2bd in the Sloop.  We're also assuming it includes parking. 

The listing we found for this unit doesn't have a description and doesn't have many pictures, but you can get a sense for the space with some of them:

We've always admired this building for some reason.  Anyway, if you do too and are interested, they're having an open house today (9/12) from 3pm to 5pm

Friday, September 11, 2015

La Haven Cafe Relaunches with More Food Options and Event Tonight (9/11)

La Haven Cafe opened at 1240 S. Michigan back in April and is re-concepting and relaunching with what appears to be more food options.  In honor of this, they're holding an event tonight for the debut:
It will be an open mic night event, with many talents of the local Columbia students. We will also have food catered from All natural Chicago, which will permanently be on our menu, we will feature samosas and soup throughout the fall as well as a speciality pastry created by there chef every week. Breakfast will now be a part of our menu. We have worked the past couple of months under new managers and are looking forward to the relaunch of our new south loop cafe! 
We know there has been community clamoring for a place like this, so hopefully the reboot is for the better.  If you go, let us know how you like it.

(Hat tip:  NH!)

New Designs for Lucas Museum Expected Soon

It sounds like we will be seeing some new designs for the controversial Lucas Museum that is slated to be on the vacant parking lot just south of Soldier Field (via Chicago Crain's Business):
The museum hasn't been without controversy. It's pushing out a parking lot that has been popular with some Chicago Bears tailgaters. And the initial design by Chinese architect Ma Yansong drew criticism for looking too futuristic. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, though, called it bold. 
The design team went back to the drawing table and is slowly rolling out its design. I hear they'll go public and show renderings to media in coming weeks.

As you may recall the initial round of renderings were released late last year and were met with a ton of criticism.
Original rendering of Lucas Museum that was met with much opposition
While the most vehement opposition came from open space advocates (who feel that the private museum has no place on Chicago's lakefront), potentially the greater risk for the viability of the museum is from the general public who seemed to question the radical design of the structure.

We're in the camp of the latter and as a result are very curious to see these new renderings.  We love bold statements, but hopefully the new renderings feel less invasive to the area.  We shall see....soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sociale and Cafe Press - the New Restaurant/Coffee House at 800 S. Clark - Sets Opening Date for September 25th

Fig and radicchio salad at Sociale   PHOTO COURTESY GOOD EATS GROUP
An exciting update and an opening date for the soon to be opened Sociale and Café Press (800 S. Clark) via Chicago Magazine:
If chef John McLean’s beef-and-beer haven Burger Bar is the most American concept in Chicago, his new South-Loop venture is the opposite. Coming September 25 from the Levy Restaurants vet and his business partner Martin Murch is the Euro-steeped dual-storefront Sociale and Café Press (800 S. Clark, South Loop), a small-plates restaurant and an adjoining farmhouse coffee shop.
Sparked by McLean’s and Murch’s various trips to Europe through decades in the restaurant biz, Sociale will promote communal dining by way of shareables from the Mediterranean. Ingredients will skew wonky (sumac-seared sea scallops with pistachio butter, manchego-cheese flatbread), and most dishes will be cooked on a wood-fired grill at the center of the rustic 120-seat space. For dinnertime traditionalists, the menu will boast a few larger single-serving entrees (see the wet-aged bone-in ribeye) and a dessert program including buttercake, homemade ice cream, and zeppole—basically tiny Italian doughnut holes.
If that's not enough, looks like you will also be getting a new solid spot to sip some coffee and other more exotic drinks:
Next door, 22-seat Café Press will sling your standard Eurocafé fare—paninis, salads, and a deluxe selection of pastry—but what’s special is a coffee program by Sparrow Roastery, who up until now eschewed retail locations for restaurants (including many with Michelin stars).... Concretely, that means flavor profiles that are mysterious even to Café Press’s owners, but patrons can expect a spread of rich, nitrous-infused teas and, of course, decadent gourmet sweets (doughnuts, anyone?).
Maybe it's the punchy writing from Chicago Magazine, but after reading this preview we are eagerly counting down the days to September 25th.

Seems like a great addition to the Sloop - hope it's as good as advertised!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Work on Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Rebuild Getting Underway?

A reader writes:
I walked by the Chicago Firehouse on my way to the bus this morning.
5 gentlemen out there, some with blue prints. Someone else asked if they were starting to rebuild and they said yes.
We know the intention was always to rebuild, but this is the first thing we've heard or seen on the topic.  Hopefully it's true.

For those who are new or have a tendency to forget, back on December 10th, 2014, the popular Chicago Firehouse restaurant at 1401 S. Michigan ironically and unfortunately had an extra-alarm fire that severely damaged the historic building.

A day later, the owner, Matthew O'Malley, issued a statement and said the plan was to rebuild.

While it may not have been the most trendy steakhouse in the city, it was classy and good and definitely was an import piece of the South Loop's dining scene.

Hope to see it bounce back better than ever.

(Hat tip:  MZ!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Roosevelt Collection Parking Garage to Become Pay Garage Starting Today (Sept 8th)

If you're like us, you've enjoyed the free garage parking at Roosevelt Collection.  But if you're like us, you also noticed that they had all the mechanisms in place to turn the free parking into a pay parking garage (and to be fair, this was always the intention).

Anyway, just so you know, you can read about the details on their blog:
Effective at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 8, 2015 parking garage tickets will need to be validated to receive free or discounted parking.  
The good news is that you still can get free validation which seems fair and inline with other city parking garages.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day

To all the laborers out is to you!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Who Wouldn't Like a 500 Square Foot Terrace?

This week open house pickings look to be a little slimmer then usual, must be the end of the real estate busy season (which makes sense as winter is just around the corner?).

However, this week one specific unit in Dearborn Park stuck out to us.  Yes, the building is of the older variety (built in 1980) and might not have the bells & whistles of newer construction, but what it lacks in this department it makes up with an abundance of awesome outdoor space:

It seems like you'd be hard pressed to find a new construction 2 bedroom with outdoor space like this, so if you like al fresco dinning and entertaining, we'd suggest a gander at unit #510 at 1169 S. Plymouth Ct.

This 2bed/2bath is listed at $375K, has monthly HOAs of $640 and apparently includes parking.  The open house is today (9/5) from 11-12:30pm.

Friday, September 4, 2015

New Roosevelt Road Streetscape Identification Markers Installed

The major work on the Roosevelt Road Streetscape improvement project has been done for some time now.  Lanes have been reconfigured, a huge bus terminal has been built, bike lanes have been created, and after some missteps benches have been installed.

One mystery that we've been wondering about was what were they going to do with the gigantically tall metal structures that frame the Green/Orange El tracks at Roosevelt?  Well the mystery has revealed itself:
Looking east at the metal identification structures on Roosevelt
Looking west at the metal identification structures on Roosevelt
While we were preparing ourselves for something horrible (has anyone seen the stupid, meaninglessly broad words that are on the benches/lightposts/concrete?), honestly they're not bad in our view.  

We were expecting these to have some stupid font announcing that you were entering the South Loop (ala Oldtown and/or Fulton Market District):

At times we thought a sign announcing the South Loop would be good as it would help define our neighborhood.  Now we're a little less certain (especially after we got a glimpse at the Fulton signage).  It just seems risky, potentially corny and sort of Disneyfied.

With that said, if someone could come up with something distinct or interesting maybe we would change our tune.  Given the other design elements in this project it's better that they went with a simple "CTA Roosevelt" sign.

The project still has some details that need to be completed such a painting and whatnot.

We know there have been some big objections and head-scratching, but how are you feeling about this in it's current state?  

We're going to reserve judgement until all is done, but would still be curious to hear some thoughts.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New "Northerly Island Parkway" Opens to the Public Tomorrow

The New Northerly Island Parkway from the Sky (via Chicago Tribune)

We've spent a lot of time on this blog pondering the future of Northerly Island and the speculation is about to end as the new redesign of the southern end officially opens on Friday (via Chicago Tribune):
A dozen years after Mayor Richard M. Daley carried out the infamous “midnight raid” that shut down the small lakefront airport called Meigs Field, the question lingers: Did the end justify the means?
A beguiling landscape that opens to the public Friday at the southern end of the former airport provides a persuasive answer.
As Mayor Rahm Emanuel led a tour Tuesday, great blue herons alighted on a newly created pond, man-made hills screened out the rush of traffic on Lake Shore Drive, and Chicago’s skyline unfurled in the distance in all its majesty.
See ya later, airport for politicians and the privileged class. This land is now your land, Chicagoans.
In our opinion the end definitely justified the means.  But then again to think of an elected official pulling a move like Mayor Daley did is mind-boggling.  We weren't around Chicago when that happened, but still is crazy to contemplate.

Anyway, we're in the present now and what we have here is a nice big present with a bow on it for Chicagoans and Sloopers in general.  An amazingly unique public park that is both serene and amazingly close to the heart of a major metropolis.

While scrolling through the pictures on the Tribune's website, it's clear that a lot has changed and that this new park is going to need some time to mature, but be patient because it will be worth it (via Chicago Tribune):
For now, the edges of the trail are fenced, which will give grasses, plants and trees a chance to fill in the somewhat barren, nascent landscape. That will keep much of the park off-limits to people for some time, though exceptions will be made for camping and other programs. 
A contractor hired by the Army Corps plans to install nearly 12,000 shrubs and more than 400 trees before work is completed in 2017. Walking paths will traverse the open spaces once that work is completed.
While there were (still are?) plans expand Northerly Island, that seems like it won't be happening any time soon since it would cost quite a bit to build reefs and new areas that didn't exist.

And if that has you disappointed, just look west across Burnham Harbor to the next frontier of potential public space - the proposed Lucas Museum.  While the initial designs were met with a ton of opposition, it sounds like a new round of renderings are going to be revealed soon to try to appease the public (however probably still won't get support by many open space advocates).

While we're going to reserve judgement about the Lucas Museum, one component we did like was that the plan had a bridge that would allow you to access Northerly Island at 18th street (not just via Solidarity Drive between the Field and Adler).

Anyway, head on over to the new Northerly Island, take a stroll and let us know what you think about this thing!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chamber of Commerce Called South Loop Alliance Launching September 24th

It looks like another group is launching in the Sloop to help steer the neighborhood: 

According to their press release:
South Loop business leaders are coming together to form a chamber of commerce called South Loop Alliance. The Alliance will officially launch on September 24, 2015 at 6pm at 1550 S. State Street. All South Loop business leaders are invited to this FREE event to include networking, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and community building. 
The South Loop Alliance’s mission is to expand and strengthen a healthy business climate, contributing to a vigorous South Loop community. So far, a small working group of business leaders have formed the bones of the organization. 
The Launch Party is an opportunity for all South Loop business leaders to hear more about the Alliance’s plans and be invited to become founding members, volunteers, and beneficiaries of the Alliance’s work. 
More details are available at Business leaders are encouraged to RSVP at the website.

Good luck!

(Hat tip: AN!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Buffalo Wild Wings Eyeing October 5th Opening at The Maxwell

Well looks like wings fans are finally getting a new spot to chow down (via DNAinfo):
Sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings will make its Downtown debut this fall in the South Loop. 
Constance Williamson, a regional marketing manager for Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings, said the chain eyes an Oct. 5 opening for the new restaurant at 513 W. Taylor St. in The Maxwell.
As you may remember we first posted about this restaurant coming to The Maxwell back in October 2014.  We continue to get inquiries about this spot and when they're opening.  Looks like we finally have an answer.