Thursday, December 31, 2015

One Last Thanks for 2015 & Get Your Sloopin Hat Tip T-Shirt!

On the last day of the year, we're simply going to say thank you!  Our neighborhood is an evolving and amazing place and we're grateful for all the people who make it what it is.

And of course, we want to acknowledge that Sloopin doesn't exist with out all the contributions people make throughout the year (and years for that matter).  Thanks for all the clicks, pictures, tips, comments, etc.

It only seems appropriate that we will end the year listing off some of the recent "hat tips" and reminding everyone to get their Sloopin hat tip t-shirts and wear them with pride.  If you see your initials below and have submitted something that we used in a post click here for more info on the hat tip t-shirt program click here:

  • JH
  • PB
  • PS
  • MK
  • LI
  • ER
  • LK
  • JM
  • BH
  • PO
  • WL
  • AK
  • JB
  • VM
  • OI
  • DN
  • EH
  • TB
  • JG
  • PA
  • TB
  • HF
  • LB
  • TS
  • JW
  • TM
  • ME
  • CPM
  • BJ
  • SS
  • AB
  • LL

Thank you all and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Look Back at 2015: Development Picks-Up

It's probably not a surprise that this biggest development in the Sloop this year was...well,  developments.  It seemed like every day we were reading about a new high-rise that was being proposed in the Sloop.  It eerily felt similar to the go-go boom days of the early 2000's

So much so that we started a new feature on Sloopin called the Development Tracker:

While we could spend a lot of time trying to capture everything in this post, but we would suggest perusing the map to get a sense of all the activity.

Super Tall High-Rises Proposed for Michigan Avenue
However, we do need to spend some time on the biggest ones.  Probably the most high-profile, buzzed about announcement was 80+ story building pegged for the southeast corner of Michigan and Roosevelt which is being developed by Crescent Heights.  

In a close second was an 86 story Helmut Jahn high rise that was proposed for the 1000 S. Michigan.

While both of these reveals had people across the city gawking at the sheer magnitude of the proposals, many other respected real estate pros questioned whether they would actually happen.

Beyond these two mega high developments, there were some other grand plans - maybe not as high in the sky, but equally as ambitious.  If you recall, a master plan (dubbed Riverline) for the vacant land on the east bank of the Chicago River between Harrison and Roosevelt was revealed.  Again, we will see what comes to be, but big plans none the less. 

There was also a big story that respected real estate developer, Related Midwest, had a development agreement with the owner of the gigantic vacant land between Clark and the Chicago River south of Roosevelt.  

Oh and let's not forget the high-profile Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and their slightly altered renderings just south of Soldier Field.  Again, more questions than answers on this one, but another transformative building could be coming to our neighborhood.

So...this is really only the tip of the iceberg.  By our accounts there were at least 28 developments that were discussed or proposed this past year.  Crazy!  

2015 was nuts, but it should be interesting to see which projects actually happen in 2016!  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Look Back at 2015: Openings & Closings

A lot of people feel that a neighborhoods vitality can be measured through it's retail and restaurant scene.  While in our opinion that is a slightly shallow way to view a neighborhood, we understand the thinking and as a result keep a close look at what happens in our hood.

By our count, the South Loop saw 30 new businesses open in 2015 and 11 close - for a net gain of 19 businesses in 2015.  As always, let us know if we missed something.

Dry-Aged Top Sirloin at Villains - by far our favorite dish in 2015!
We saw a lot of new, solid places open.  Standouts in our mind were the rebirth of Villain's (730 S. Clark), a reformulation of the great space at 18th/Indiana in Spoke & Bird (1801 S. Indiana), a well thought out and executed restaurant in Sociale (800 S. Clark) and hopefully the first domino to fall in the Motor Row Entertainment District in Motor Row Brewing (2337 S. Michigan).

In terms of closings - we were amazingly sad to see Ma & I close their doors after 10 years of service at 1234 S. Michigan.  Supposedly the building they called home is being razed to build a high rise.

Another big closing was neighborhood stalwart Zapatista (1307 S. Wabash).  While the restaurant seemed to elicit strong opinions both positively and negatively, it always seemed busy and had been a steady force for the scene on the 1300 S. Wabash block.  It's a nice building so we're hoping someone else moves in soon.

While it's been fun to see what 2015 has had in store, 2016 should be an interesting one.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Look Back at 2015: The Events

It's the last week of 2015 and like many, we here at Sloopin are in a reflecting mood.  With that said, we will be counting down some of the bigger stories and trends we saw this year around the neighborhood.

First up - Events!

Grateful Dead - Fare Thee Well Tour
Yes, every year our neighborhood always seems to ground zero for big Chicago events since we have have Grant Park and Soldier Field in our back yard, but 2015 seemed to be ratcheted up a notch.

So what was the biggest event, in our mind?   It had to be the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well tour that invaded Soldier Field for a 3 night stint over forth of July weekend.  If this didn't seem like a big deal to you, maybe this post will help you understand - these three shows had the highest grossing ticket prices worldwide in 2015 - crazy!

Another big, new event was the 2015 NFL Draft, which was held in Grant Park in late April - early May.  While this may not have had the historical cache of the Dead concert, it probably had a bigger and broader national audience.  And like it or not, it sounds like the 2016 draft is coming back (however, we've heard some rumors that the NFL may be reconsidering given our next "event").

It wasn't all roses in the Sloop in 2015 either.  Various streets and intersections around the neighborhood were ground zero for the Laquan McDonald protests in late November.

In case you've been living under a rock, a video was released showing a Chicago Police officer repetitively shooting and eventually killing Laquan McDonald.  While the legal system is still dealing with this case, public opinion has been loud for a variety of reasons - but especially the fact that many feel the local government was trying to avoid releasing the video.

Beyond those three events, there were some others that we would be remised to not mention.  Obviously Lollapalooza is impossible to miss if you live in the Sloop.  The 2015 rendition wasn't unusual in terms of the event, but we did learn that it will be expanding to 4 days in 2016.

The Dew Tour utilized our new skate park in June and as you may remember, the Stanley Cup visited our hood again for some celebrating.

Obviously there were a ton of other events, but these stuck out in our mind.  Did we miss anything else that you deemed big?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Cool Loft & Crazy Colors

It's been awhile since we've done a Sloopin Open house post and upon further review of this weeks listing on the MLS, there was literally one on there.  Luckily it's a pretty cool one if we do say so:
The building is one of our favorites (720 S. Plymouth), but what's most interesting is that it's decorated in an interesting manner.  What sticks out the most is the purple bedroom with interesting lighting:
If this is interesting to you, feel free to stop by 720 S. Plymouth unit #801 on Sunday (12/26) from noon to 2pm.  The unit is a 2bed/2bath and is listed for $450K.  Deeded parking is listed separately at $30K (but if we were you, we would get that negotiated in for free).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Merry & Keep Havin A Good Day (Take 7)

Since much of our world is taking time to celebrate Christmas - we figured we would wish you a merry one if that's what you do, but if not, hope you are havin a good day!

A reader writes:
View from 41 E 8th Today...

...but on closer inspection! Keep having a good day :)

#ShotsAroundTheSloop:  Keep Havin a Good Day
Take 1
Take 2
Take 3
Take 4
Take 5 
Take 6

(Hat tip:  MM!)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Futbol Will Actually Be Played at Soldier Field in 2016

Looks like some good futbol might actually be played at Soldier Field soon (via NBCchicago):
For the first time ever, the Copa America soccer tournament will be held in the United States, and Chicago’s Soldier Field will play host to two of the biggest nations involved in the event.  
One of those games will feature the United States’ men’s soccer team, who will play at the historic venue on June 7 in group play.  
The U.S. men have played some memorable games at Soldier Field, including a 1994 World Cup match against Brazil and the 2013 Gold Cup Final against Panama, and this tournament will add to that legacy as the Copa America celebrates its 100th birthday.  
Soldier Field will also host another major soccer power, as Argentina will take the field on June 10.  
Led by Lionel Messi, Argentina is a perennial threat in international competitions, and they’ll likely be considered one of the favorites in this tournament as well.  
The stadium will get two other games as well, with a pool play game on June 5 and one of the two semi-final games of the tournament, which will be contested on June 22.  
The Copa America, which features 16 teams from North and South America, has never been contested outside of South America before, but the United States nabbed hosting rights for the Centenario (100th) edition of the tournament.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Time Out Chicago Names Villain's One of 2015's Top 12 New Bars

Not surprising, but good for Villains (via Time Out Chicago):
Beer nerds wanting a taste of brews from places like Norway and Spain that they can’t easily find elsewhere in Chicago should head to Villains, which reopened in the South Loop after being closed for a few years. The beer list is changing constantly, so it's worth making regular trips to see what's available. Bonus: Food from Dennis Stover, like perfectly cooked pork belly with sweet potatoes, makes it easier to try a couple beers in one session.
Congrats and glad to have you back in the hood.

For some of our other coverage on Villains click here.

Oh and if you're reading the list and haven't checked out the Chicago Athletic Association, we highly suggest checking that place out.  It's walkable from the Sloop and oozes swank.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Darryll Schiff New Project in Wabash Arts Cooridor Hits Funding Goal

A follow-up from a post we did back in mid-November on a project to light a new addition to the Wabash Arts Cooridor.  This new piece will be by local artist Darryll Schiff and will be on the south facing wall at 705 S. Wabash.  Looks like they're aiming for late January for it to be completed:
If weather allows, our install date will be early in the last week of January and our opening reception will be January 27th. The event will be held at Elephant Room Inc., a nearby gallery at 704 S. Wabash.
For more info checkout their kickstarter funding page.

(Hat tip:  LL!)

Monday, December 21, 2015

A New Type of Stop Light

A reader writes:
Not good! Polk/State & high winds this morning around 8:40 (a week ago), nearly missed an SUV who had to slam on it's breaks to stop a couple feet short as the light fell. Didn't look like any injuries. Seems like that area is a wind tunnel constantly!

(Hat tip:  AB!)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recently On the Sloopin Message Board...

It's been awhile since we've done a post about the Sloopin Message Board, so lo and behold here we go.  Some of the highlights according to us:

Play date for 13 month old by
Why so few restaurants in the South Loop? by LB
parking in dearborn park by kdoyle
Friends of Dearborn Park by DeaJC
Home value increases by jamesst75
Loud Noise all night? by nogs
Best salon?? by Chelsea42
What the heck ward are we in? by frankpizzo

Happy reading and contributing!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Vote Sloop in 2015 Curbed Cup

Looks like the Curbed Chicago is doing their annual Curbed Cup.  If you're inclined, go vote for the Sloop!  In the first round, our hood is squaring off against East Village/Noble Square.  Voting will sometime today, so vote quickly.

Curbed describes the Sloop as:
The South Loop is preparing for some very big changes. Perhaps no other neighborhood made as big of a splash in the world of Chicago architecture this year, as the South Loop was the focus of multiple high-profile tower proposals. The neighborhood is getting a new arena designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, a wild-looking museum funded by filmmaker George Lucas, a possible twin tower development designed by Rafael Viñoly and a supertall structure from Helmut Jahn. These projects are helping to boost the neighborhood's architectural profile/status, but are also going to make the area much more densely populated. Beyond rental structures, the area is also getting hundreds of new hotel rooms and heaps of new retail space. The fuse has been lit, but it's going to be another few years until some of these projects become a reality.

Vote - it's your neighborly duty!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chicago Magazine Revisits Fine Dining at Everest (440 S. LaSalle St.)

We spend a lot of time here talking about new things, but yesterday we had the chance to read a glowing review of something that's been around the neighborhood for a long time - the fine dining establishment Everest (440 S. LaSalle St).  Chicago Magazine provides a great review and here is a good blurb:
All these questions ultimately funnel into a larger one, which, having just spent three luscious hours in one of Chicago’s last surviving upscale restaurants, I feel compelled to address: After 30 years of uninterrupted excellence, does Everest—and old-school establishments like it—still have a place in this world?  
By “upscale,” I don’t mean prices. There are now plenty of restaurants—some you’ve probably never heard of—that charge more than Everest. I’m talking about the act of dining out as it once was, a starched and formal ritual where voices remain hushed, elbows stay off the table, the carpet is clean, and the language cleaner. About places where the chef got his start washing dishes at some brasserie in Lyon at the age of eight. Where the wine director doesn’t fake his way through bottles he barely knows, and the waiter doesn’t have a neck beard or a Hüsker Dü tattoo on his forearm. Where the experience is orchestrated by adults for adults.

It's a fun read and the gist of the article is that as Chicago's culinary world has evolved, Everest's role has been consistent for many many years.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What in the World Are These Things at the New Roosevelt Road Bus Stops

A reader writes:
Does anyone have any clues as to what these are and why they are there? If there is no railing on them somebody is going to trip and get hurt.

That's funny because we noticed them as well, but was less concerned about the safety and more concerned about the randomness of the what function these served.

Does anyone have any clue what these are?

(Hat tip:  BH!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reset Tattoo Removal & Skin Rejuvenation Opens at 11 E. Congress

It appears that a tattoo removal shop has opened in the sloop.  A reader sends us the following picture:

For those unfamiliar with the location it's on Congress between Wabash and State.

Anyway, looks like Reset Tattoo Removal & Skin Rejuvenation has been in operation for a little bit and actually has a 5 star rating on yelp (as of this post there was 4 reviews).

If you're curious about the technology, here is a youtube video we found:

(Hat tip:  MK!)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Twas A Good Year To Have a Concert at Soldier Field

As suspected, Soldier Field ended up being a pretty big and lucrative venue for music acts in 2015 - specifically The Grateful Dead and Taylor Swift (via Billboard):
 If this intrigues you, we offer you some YouTube videos from the events:

Friday, December 11, 2015

21 Story U-Stor-It Self Storage Coming to 615 S. Wabash (Wabash and Harrison)

Well this is a new and unusual type of development:
U-Stor-It Self Storage, will be opening its largest store yet, and the tallest self-storage facility in Chicago. The current project involves redeveloping a parking garage, neighboring the Travelodge Hotel, in the South Loop of Chicago, on Wabash Ave and E Harrison St. The 1000+ unit property, at 615 S. Wabash, will rise 21 stories, making it the tallest self-storage facility in Chicago, and one the tallest facilities in the country. 
With an expected opening date for Jan. 31, 2016, this location will also feature state of the art wine storage. Additionally, the self-storage outfit is in preliminary talks with a distinguished art muralist, for a future project on the building’s western façade, as an addition to Columbia College’s Wabash Arts Corridor.

This is interesting on a couple fronts:

  • First - a 21 story storage building.  That's a lot of storage.
  • Second - they're proactively in talk to add to the Wabash Arts Corridor.  Good to hear that their is foresight to add to the neighborhood's cultural ambitions.  Nicely done.

(Hat tip:   BJ!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Soggy Paws Closing Their Doors at the End of December

A reader sends us the following pic:

If you're having a hard time reading this, it essentially says that Soggy Paws (1925 S. Archer) is closing their doors in the South Loop (and Uptown).  They will be keeping their Logan Square store open.

(Hat tip:  ME!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Checking In On the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Rebuild

A reader sends us the picture below which shows progress at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant:

Good to see.

As a reminder, the historic building and restaurant had a major fire back in late 2014.

(Hat tip:  TM!)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Grateful for Bob's Christmas Trees at Polk/Dearborn

A reader writes:
It's so nice to have Bob's Christmas trees at the lot by Dearborn Station. I think I'd rather have this as a Christmas tree lot than yet another apartment building (even if they are micro apartments). In any case, I thought you might get a kick out of our method for bringing home the Christmas tree this year.

Sweet pic!

Oh and we agree about Bob's - we went by last night and it just has a nice aura about it:

(Hat tip: JW!)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Holy Terrace Batman!

It's been a couple weeks since we've done our Sloopin Open House feature mostly because nothing seemed interesting to us.  But we're back at it this week as one of our most intriguing buildings has an open house - 61 W. 15th Street.

While the building is kinda off the beaten path, we really like its design which feels like glassy lego blocks stocked on top of each other.

The unit that has an open house tomorrow Sunday, 12/6 (from 1-3pm) is unit #1002.  While it's a nice airy unit in general, the thing that really stands out to us is the 19' x 19' terrace off the living room:

While this one appears to be facing southwest and the money shot is north, it's still pretty nice to have space like this.

For those more interested in the basics, this unit is a 2bed/2bath on the "penthouse" level and shares the floor with two other units.  It includes parking and has nice finishes (although nothing amazing).  It's listed at $379K with HOA's registering in at $512 a month.

Go check it out!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ma & I and Sixpax Close to Make Way for Bigger Building?

Well this sucks:
In case you haven't heard, Ma & I, the Thai restaurant, and Sixpax, the pilates studio--both at 1234 S Michigan--have closed. I heard their leases were bought out by a new building owner anxious to demolish that building to make way for a more profitable/higher new building.
So it appears that every building that is one or two stories in the Sloop is a candidate for demolition and rebuild.  Not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, regarding Ma & I here is the note they included:

We were huge fans of Ma & I (especially the seared tuna salad).

(Hat tip:  TB, HF, LB!)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Harold's Chicken Shack & George's Tavern Razed for Highrise?

To follow-up from our recent post on Harold's Chicken Shack moving, a couple readers sent us emails.  Here is the most detailed:
The building that houses Harold’s Chicken Shack, George’s Tavern, and the parking lot are all going to be razed very soon—within weeks—according to someone who I spoke with at Warehouse Liquors, for an unnamed future development—even though the vacant lot between Warehouse and Harold’s has remained vacant for so long because soil samples keep coming up nasty, and no one can build on that spot. So my guess it will remain vacant for some time.  
For me, George’s will be a real loss. It’s one of the city’s last great dive bars: it’s in a parking garage, for pete’s sake. You can witness intriguing shenanigans there around 3am on Saturday night that will stay with you for a lifetime. While places like George’s don’t fit into the future of a yukked-up South Loop, it will be sad when it goes. Have a last drink there while you can, folks!

We can attest to the late night shenanigans at George's.  Sad to see it go.

(Hat tip:  JG & PA!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Treasures Jewelry Opening at Roosevelt Collection

It appears that a new jewelry spot named Treasures Jewelry is opening at Roosevelt Collection judging by their website and this picture we recently snapped:

According to their website they will be opening week of December 7th.

The Roosevelt Collection website synopsis of the store says:
Treasures is a family owned and operated jewelry store founded in 1986. Our staff brings over 20 years of experience in diamond grading and design. They carry a large selection of unique diamond jewelry including mens and womens diamond rings, diamond earrings, diamond pendants, diamond bracelets, diamond bangles, diamond charms and diamond necklaces in white or yellow gold.
Welcome to the Sloop!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sociale & Cafe Press Reviewed by Crains and Chicago Reader

Deep-fried olives and wood-fired flatbread (via Chicago Reader)
We've had a chance to get carry-out from Cafe Press, but still haven't made it over to Sociale at the SW corner of Polk and Clark.

The Chicago Reader review had some initial doubts but seems pretty positive by the end:
I almost passed on Sociale. Why? It has no website. It has a Facebook page on which a barely readable photo of its menu was posted a full month after the restaurant opened. It has that ubiquitous vaguely urban upscale-sexy-nighttime-barstaurant vibe that really does it for the ladies of the SLoop. And for their dudes? Flat-screens, of course. There's that ridiculous lisping name in a wispy font typically reserved strictly for nail salons. It's got that something-for-everyone approach—coffee shop, bakery, cafe, tapas bar, brunch spot, with smoothies, craft cocktails, and a wood-fired oven—that indicates it's probably not good at any one of them. Cosmetically, it's as if it doesn't want to be noticed. 
But it also has at its helm John McLean, the Levy Restaurants vet who opened two competent but unremarkable restaurants near the unnavigable North/Halsted/Clybourn clusterfuck: Burger Bar and Sono Wood Fired. And, well, Spanish is the new pizza these last few years, so why not? For that McLean tapped a relatively unknown veteran of Mercat a la Planxa as his chef de cuisine: Mark Sabbe, a former sous chef who should be noticed. 
Turns out the food at Sociale is far more than the sum of its cosmetic parts. Sabbe's menu, dominated by hot and cold truly shareable small plates, is augmented by five small pizzas and five large entrees. While not purely a tapas bar in the way of Wicker Park's Bom Bolla, for example, Sociale has accommodations for big eaters that don't get in the way. In fact, there are some outstanding big plates for those who want to commit to something more substantial than just a drink and a snack.

The review goes on to give highlights and low lights and is worth a read if you're interested in the newish spot.

Inside Sociale (via Crains)
The Crain's review is also positive (however only gives it 1.5 stars) and says it screams "internationalism":
Sociale, an airy space with a see-and-be-seen bar area, well-spaced tables, a serious wine program and a menu that doesn't always stick to conventional routes, has an aura of cool internationalism. More edgy than cozy, decor-wise, it was masterminded by business partners John McLean and Martin Murch of Chicago-based Good Eats Group (Burger Bar, Sono Wood Fired), who were inspired to create it by extensive travels abroad.  
Opened for dinner in September and serving lunch since late October, the 120-seat restaurant is a good choice for a midday meal with pals who live and/or work in the neighborhood. If smoking were still allowed in restaurants, it would be easy to imagine a lot of dawdling afternooners nursing a postprandial espresso and a Gitane here. Office? What office?  
Luckily, the smoke is gone (even from the center-stage wood-burning oven, which is well-ventilated), and lunch service is quick enough for anyone on a tight schedule. The global menu consists mostly of tapas-like hot and cold small plates, sandwiches and flatbreads. The cuisine skews Mediterranean, but, like many culinary descriptors, this one is hospitably broad.  
Among small plates, brandade fritters ($6 for two) stand out for their unusual presentation—the salt cod mixture is formed into croquettes and then deep-fried, presented with pistou alongside. We like brandade but think a little goes a long way; this portion size is perfect as a first course.

Seems worth a try - we hope to get there soon!  Has anyone been?  Care to share your take?

(Hat tip: EH, TB!)