Thursday, March 31, 2016

Title Boxing Coming to Roosevelt Collection? And an Update On 611 Eatery

A reader gives us a bunch of tips:
So I think I have some nuggets of info for you:  
The first one I have is that I'm like 90% positive Title Boxing is going in at the Roosevelt Collection. I go to the West Loop location in Greektown since it opened and I have heard from more than one individual, including the owner, that they are going in there. So that's pretty cool! 
The second one I have is that there are a bunch of bulldozers and earth movers at the open space across from the Vetro at Wells and Harrison. Having said that, there are still quite a few tents along the river there where homeless squatters live, but it looks like progress is starting to happen on the proposed five building complex!  
Speaking of the Vetro, where I live, we have gotten several notices that there is construction going on in the north retail space, aka where the 611 Eatery is supposed to go. Well. I was heading to the gym yesterday morning when I saw some gentlemen stripping down those wall decals of various Asian dishes out of the windows. I took a quick peek inside the open door and it is still very, very bare and raw inside. That said, the windows are now back to the original white they had in the windows before construction started. I asked a few of the doormen and women if they knew what was up and they all rolled their eyes- don't forget, that place was supposed to be open last summer. My money is on the fact they have given up. I mean, seriously, it looks like zero progress on the inside was made. I will definitely keep an eye on this, but now, I will no longer be able to giggle at the confused people coming in the lobby of the Vetro asking how to get into the restaurant.

Not super surprising about 611 Eatery.  We posted about this about a year ago and were skeptical about the concept.  Good news about Title Boxing.  We will keep our eyes and ears to see if we get anything official.

(Hat tip:  CS!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gigantic Self-Storage Sign Apparently Removed on South Wabash

Last week we posted about a self-storage sign a reader wasn't feeling:

Well apparently something wasn't right with that sign.  A reader writes:
What “SELF STORAGE” sign? Photo taken today, Easter Sunday 2016.

Anyone have any clue about what happened?

(Hat tip: AB!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

UFC Gym Moving from Current Digs at East 9th St to 1331 S. Michigan Ave.

A reader writes:
Just a FYI, but the UFC gym (8 E 9th St, Chicago, IL 60605) is relocating to 1331 S. Michigan Ave just in case fellow Sloopers did not know. They should be opening back up next week or so.
They forwarded the following email from UFC gym:
We would like to announce that the South Loop UFC GYM is moving and expanding! Over the next 10 days we will be transitioning to our new location at 1331 S. Michigan Ave. Just a few blocks south of our current location. We will be expanding as this new space is almost double the size of the current space we have now, allowing us to keep adding more new amenities and programs to better serve you.  
We will be down for approximately 2 weeks, in which time you are all able to use ANY of our other Chicagoland locations FREE OF CHARGE. We will freeze everyone's memberships for the time we are down so you are not missing out on any membership time, and all of the other locations will be available to you until we reopen for workouts! We could not be more excited to bring you the facility you deserve for being such AMAZING members.  
We pride ourselves on customer service, and if there are any questions during this transition, please let us know and we will do our best to help in any way we can. Please email for fastest response during our downtime, or see us at the front desk in the meantime! Thank you for your patience and cooperation and we will see you soon!  
Your Team at UFC South Loop

(Hat tip:  MK, MM, CS!)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Town Hall Recap for Crescent Heights High-Rise at Roosevelt and Indiana

A reader sends us a recap email from a town hall meeting for the impending high-profile high-rise development at southwest corner of Roosevelt and Indiana: 
"Phase 1" is the second high-rise from the right
Good morning all, Last night, over 150 residents from five buildings in the South Loop attended the town hall meeting with Crescent Heights. Crescent Heights was represented by Jason Buchburg and John Jendras as well as their legal counsel. Alderman Dowell was unable to attend the meeting, but sent Robert Charles to speak on her behalf. 
Over the course of an hour and a half, several questions were answered by the team from Crescent Heights. Here is a brief synopsis of their responses: 
- Phase I of the project is scheduled to begin in June 2016. Phase I is a 76 story tower with 792 rental units and approximately 640 parking spaces. The base building will be 17 stories tall with the building narrowing as it rises toward the top. There will be approximately 100 paid parking spaces available to the public on a daily basis; along with zip cars and a bike share program.
- Phase I will be located on the corner of Indiana and Roosevelt and will only occupy half of the currently vacant two acre parcel. The acre on Michigan and Roosevelt is considered Phase II and will be developed after Phase I is complete. Phase II is expected to have some commercial/retail space on the lower floors. 
- Construction hours are approved by the City from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. including weekends. Though they have the right to work during that time frame, it is anticipated that the hours will more likely be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week; with deliveries and crane work on the weekends. McHugh is the general contractor for the project. 
- During construction of Phase I, the one acre lot on Michigan and Roosevelt will be used to stage construction equipment. Exterior construction is expected to take 24 months with an additional 6 months for interior work, prior to any leasing. 
- Ingress and egress for the Phase I building will be located on Indiana. The driveway will funnel into the building so that vehicles do not stop/stand on Indiana. Deliveries will be routed down the alley between Indiana and Michigan. 
- The vacant lot at 13th and Indiana will be made into green space until it is developed. At this time, the lot at 13th and Indiana is considered Phase III and they do not anticipate building on it for at least 3-4 years. There are no current plans or renderings for this lot. The lot is zoned for a 180 foot building (approx. 15 stories) and will include a 12,000 sq. ft. park in the South West corner. The park will be turned over to the Chicago Park District upon completion of construction. 
- Any lane closures needed during construction will be handed by the Department of Transportation, with notices coming from Alderman Dowell's office. If you are not currently on the Alderman's email list, please send me your information and I will make sure that you are added. 
- The zoning for these lots was approved in 2008 and the new design for Phase I was approved by Planning and Zoning in November 2015. At this time, Crescent Heights is working on financing and permitting the project. 
- There is no requirement for affordable housing on any of these projects as Crescent Heights has already met the standard on previous buildings in the area. - All units in Phase I are being built to "Condo specifications" and may be sold as condominiums at a later date in the future. 
- Phase II (Michigan & Roosevelt) and Phase III (13th & Indiana) will go through a review process, both in the community and before the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to approval.
If you have any further questions or concerns on the project, please contact Jason via email at
If you need more background on this development click here.

(Hat tip: SM!)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Sloopin Open House:
Spacious Terrace at 1530 S. State

Spring is in the air but sometimes it's hard to enjoy it in the city and in the Sloop because many of our condos and apartments lack one key thing...outdoor space.

With that in mind, we wanted to share unit #12N at 1530 S. State that has an open house today Saturday March 28th from noon to 2pm.  Why?  Well take a look at this beautiful and spacious terrace:
Looks pretty lovely to us.  We can picture a nice cup of joe, reading a book out here!

The unit itself looks nice.  It's a 2bd/2bth listed at $435K and has a pretty open floor plan.  The one thing to call out is that it appears to have walls that don't go all the way up to the ceiling.  Some people like those, some don't.  
Anyway, seems like a good one to check-out!

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Beautiful Drone Video of Our Fair City (and Sloop)

Because who doesn't love beautiful drone video from our glorious city.

Can anyone pick out all the "shots around the sloop"?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saraya Salon Now Open at 1463 S. State

Back in Early March we posted about Saraya Salon coming to 1463 S. State.

A reader writes:
Saraya salon is open! Link to website: 
Beautiful new salon with every service imaginable! I see Sam for cut and color, he's the best!

Best of luck and our business counter is updated with this opening.

(Hat tip: MC!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Update On Two South Michigan Impending Businesses

Upon a recent stroll down South Michigan avenue we noticed that signage has sprouted up at two vacant buildings that we posted about.
First up is Ivy Garden daycare which is moving in at 1455 S. Michigan.  We posted about this back in August of last year, but at the time we weren't sure the name or much of anything about this business.

It appears that this new location will be one of many the company operates.  According to their website their mission is:
We apply non-traditional management techniques to train our dynamic staff and to use the most creative, cutting-edge curricula to educate our students with multidimensional knowledge and skills that will serve them throughout their schooling and career.

The second business is next door to the Ivy Garden and is called Big Shoulders Chicago and is a small independent gym.  We knew most of this when we posted in February, but what is new is that the signage proclaims they're shooting for a Summer opening:

While we always love when long-standing vacant and dilapidated buildings get tenants/owners, this one stings a little bit given it's historical nature.  Most readers probably aren't aware of this, but this building was the home of Vee-Jay records, who was the record house that was responsible for releasing the first Beatles song in America (read more about that in a post we did way back in 2011).  

At that time, there was discussion about turning this into a museum and studio. Guess that's not happening and we will have another gym...sigh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not Feeling the New Self Storage Sign

A reader writes:
Who approved this hideous thing? 
At least it doesn't say "got bed bugs?" 
That's the only positive thing to say I can think of.

If this doesn't ring a bell for you, we did a post back in December on the topic.  Essentially an old parking garage for the Travelodge hotel is being converted into self storage.

(Hat tip:  JU!)

Monday, March 21, 2016

5 New (and Frankly Silly) Suggestions for What to Do With the Old Post Office

In case you missed it last week, there's some news on the old Post Office building quagmire (via Chicago Tribune):
For decades now, the city and a series of developers have struggled to find a use for the 2.5-million-square-foot building sitting on nearly 13 acres. Since 1996, when it ceased hosting gut-wrenching waits for a clerk to weigh your package and other postal service functions, its primary role has been to fool westbound drivers into thinking that the sun glare on the way home won’t be so bad today.

The city’s great stone visor, the Block 37 of the West Loop, has been in the news recently because British millionaire Bill Davies, the building’s owner since 2009, said he has plans to sell it to a New York developer. This announcement came, in a stunning coincidence, just weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration threatened to use eminent domain to seize the property.
The article proposes 5 new uses for the building, but we're not sure if we're supposed to take them serious because they seem silly:
  1. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art - seems practical, but from everything we've read it seems like Lucas is set on the lake front and a "statement" building - not a rehab.
  2. The Willis Building - not sure about this...maybe he's suggesting this because it's pretty close to Willis Tower?
  3. Speed Window Observation Deck - to watch cars speeding underneath the building.  Again, seems silly.
  4. World's Largest Costco - not even worth commenting on.
  5. World's Largest Haunted House - now we're talking...except it would also be the world's most expensive and least profitable haunted house would be our guess.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Sloopin Open House:
Open Floor Plan in Prairie Ave. District

It's March Madness season and we're not really talking about basketball (but man were the games yesterday awesome!).  What we are talking about is that it appears that the residential real estate market season is upon us given that there are a bunch of open houses popping up.

With that said, today we're posting about a 2bd/2bth in the Prairie Ave. District at 1910 S. Indiana (#210).  This unit looks nice, but really stood out to us was the open and unique floor plan:

Looks nice to us and if it looks nice to you, head on over tomorrow (Sunday, 3/20) sometime between 2-4pm.  The unit is listed at $420K and parking is included in the price.  Home owners association dues are $525 per month.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Man Charged with Stabbing at 800 S. Wabash Last Saturday

What the hell (via Chicago Sun-Times):
A man charged with stabbing a 17-year-old boy over the weekend in the South Loop was ordered held without bond Monday.  
Chris Cervantes, 19, faces one count of attempted first-degree murder, according to Chicago Police.

Cervantes and the 17-year-old got into an argument in the 800 block of South Wabash about 6 p.m. Saturday, police said. Cervantes pulled out a “cutting instrument” and stabbed the 17-year-old in the neck.

(Hat tip:  KC!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Large Advertising Sign Propose for North Face of Parking Garage at Clark and Harrison

A reader writes:
A proposal to install a 14x40’ advertising sign on the North face of the parking garage at Clark in Harrison is proceeding through the city approval process.  
The residents of the surrounding buildings have been able to block approval of similar signs at least twice in the past, but this version was not opposed by Ald. Burns in his final days in office, and is now headed to City Council for final approval as soon as March 16th. Residents have contacted Ald. Burns, signed petitions, and appeared at both hearings related to this matter. I’m attaching a mockup done by one resident of what such a sign might look like. Following the first hearing, when the matter was deferred, Ald. Burns did not attend a meeting with neighbors to understand our concerns. It is important to note that this is not a sign advertising the parking garage, but a general advertising sign that could be used for any purpose. I have spent some time walking the Sloop and cannot find another example of such a large general advertising sign in such a prominent and developed location.  
Clark St. has come so for in the past 8-10 years, and to see such a huge sign at this prominent intersection on the edge of Printers Row is saddening. The back story, as old by the sign contractor, who was present for at least one of the hearings is that the owner “can’t make money” on the garage and needs the sign for the additional income, even though the garage sits unstaffed and open to anyone to park without payment for long periods of time. This is the same location that was slated for redevelopment about 18 months ago, but that fell through, we were told because the owner (who can’t make money) decided to not sell the property.

(Hat tip:  JM!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Renderings Appear for 33-Story High-Rise for Polk and Financial

To follow-up on a post we did last Friday a couple people gave us tips (including people in our comment section) on what was coming to the corner of Financial and Polk.

A reader writes:
Here are the renderings for the 33 story building going up at Financial and Polk... (via 

So why did this development fly under the radar?  Well the post on provides this interesting nugget:
This building will come as a surprise to a good number of people. Especially people who have moved to the South Loop in the last decade or so. That’s because it is considered merely the development of Subarea IV of Planned Development number 523. The size and scope of the building were approved in January of 1999, but it was only this past December that the actual plans for it were filed with the city. If the building was higher than 380 feet, then there would have to be a big public presentation before the Chicago Plan Commission. But since it isn’t — no harm, no foul.

(Hat tip:  NP!)

Monday, March 14, 2016

16-Year-Old Boy Charged with Shooting at 1200 block of South Wabash

A reader writes:
I heard what sounded like rapid gunshots last night and looked for the story today.
It feels like this is happening more and more in our hood.  Are we just imagining it (via Chicago Tribune):
Authorities charged a 16-year-old boy after an off-duty Chicago police officer saw him shoot at a vehicle early Saturday in the South Loop neighborhood, police said.  
The boy, whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with a felony count of aggravated discharge of a firearm at a vehicle and a felony count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a minor. He was also cited with a misdemeanor count of aggravated assault of a peace officer, according to a news release from the Chicago Police Department. 
The off-duty officer saw the boy run after a moving vehicle and shoot at it in the 1200 block of South Wabash Avenue around 12:40 a.m., according to police.

(Hat tip:  BZ!)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Rubber Hitting the Road on Some Big Developments

We've spent a lot of digital ink trying to stay up with the immense amount of development news happening in the Sloop.  Most of this has been renderings and talk, but it appears that some of the developments are starting to take on more physical actions.

First off and maybe most note-worthy it appears that soil boring trucks are back at the southeast corner of South Michigan and Roosevelt Road:

As a reminder, this is where the 76-story mammoth of a building would tower over Grant Park and add another high-profile architectural symbol to Chicago and the Sloop:

In other development news, it appears a popular restaurant, Brasserie by LM, which sits in the Essex Inn hotel will be closing for 2 years as it appears construction on a new apartment/hotel tower will rise above it (via DNAinfo):
Brasserie by LM, 800 S. Michigan Ave., will close close on March 20 to make way for at least two years worth of renovations.  
The extended hiatus is expected to last between 2 and 2½ years, according to a news release.  
The new Brasserie by LM will be located at the base of the Essex Hotel and Tower project and is expected to open in the summer of 2018.
Seems like a long time to close, but nice to hear that they're committed to the Sloop.  We just posted about the work that's planned to come above the restaurant but here is the rendering:

Finally, it appears work is underway at the vacant lot just north of the new British School of Chicago building:

Another reader is looking for more information on this one:
I live across the street from the empty lot north of Roosevelt Collection and British School. There is a Walsh construction banner and new fencing around the empty lot and excavation equipment is being brought in. I'm assuming a new development is eminent. No complaints. What's driving me nuts is my curiosity....I haven't a clue what's going up in this space and am jonesing for some kind of rendering. It's a huge footprint so I'm thinking BIG. Any info or guidance towards a rendering would be appreciated.
I don't think we've seen a rendering (or if not, it's not ringing a bell).  Does anyone have one?

Anyway, it appears that rubber is hitting the road on some of these big projects.

(Hat tip: AW, JK, SC, SE!)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

837 S. Wells Development to Have Above Ground Utility Poles?

A reader writes:
I appears that the developer, Michigan Avenue Development, of 42 units at 837 S. Wells has chosen to save a few bucks and blight the streetscape with alas, something NEVER seen in new buildings, not downtown at least... with 4-5 new utility poles, instead of paying to have the lines buried. It is going to make our street very ugly. And who would want to live in an apartment building with this in front, or look out at a jungle of wires! I can't believe they are so cheap. This is something one might find in an alley! How did they get away with this??????
PS. Photo shows new poles (upside down L's) and the old poles, which will probably go away.
As a reminder, the unit will be just north of Roosevelt collection and is supposed to look like this (based on a post we did back in November of 2015):

If true, seems pretty bad to us.  Anyone have any perspective on this?

(Hat tip:  MC!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Presidential Politics Appears to Be Invading the Sloop

We've been spared some of the national, presidential political craziness, but it appears things are about to get more real with the impending Illinois primary next Tuesday (3/15).  We saw this yesterday outside of the Spertus museum on south Michigan avenue:
We're not going to suggest who you should vote for, but we are going to remind you that you should vote.  If you don't know where you're supposed to go, click here to find out.

If you're looking for a rundown of the most recent polls, the Chicago Tribune has a rundown from yesterday.  Trump's up in the Republican field and Clinton in the Democratic one.

What a crazy time...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Popular Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken Opening at Roosevelt Collection

We've had a couple people send us emails about Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken opening in the Sloop.  DNAinfo had a story on the development:
South Loop residents soon won't have to travel far for peri-peri chicken.  
Nando's, the rapidly growing South African grilled chicken chain with four restaurants in the city, has just signed a lease for a fifth in The Shops at Roosevelt Collection, 1005 S. Delano Court.  
A Nando's spokeswoman said it's too early to offer an opening date, but the new lease signals a quick Chicago expansion for the international import, which just opened its first restaurant here in May.  
"The reception we have received in Chicago has been amazing," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "We are excited to have recently signed a lease in the South Loop, but it’s too soon to say when we will open. Stand by for more spicy peri-peri, South Loop!”

We've never actually been to Nando's, but have many friends and acquaintances who swear by it.

If you're still skeptical, it appears that they already have their permit to start working on the space:

Seems like a great get for Roosevelt Collection.

(Hat tip:  LE, AG, SS, MG, KK!)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Letters Go Out for Public Hearing on 47 Story High Rise at 1326 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
Just got this letter (see attached) regarding a proposed 47 story residential building with commercial/retail space on the ground floor. The proposed address is 1326 S. Michigan and would go in the "Sub-Area A" portion of what is already there. There is to be a public hearing on the 17th for zoning purposes.

As you will recall this for this high-rise (which we posted about back in September of 2015):

(Hat tip:  SP!)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Updates on 800 S. Michigan Tower and Micro-Apartment Building at Printers Row

Yesterday it was an update on Helmut Jahn's high-rise.  Today we revisit two other interesting developments.

First up, Curbed Chicago provides some good info on the new, slender high-rise proposed just south of the Essex Inn on Michigan Ave (800 S. Michigan).  It's a pretty detailed read, but worth it if you're into that stuff.  We love the pictures so here is one of our favorites:

Second, they provided an update on the "micro-apartments" that were proposed for Printers Row (at Polk and Dearborn):
The project is following a national trend of small apartments with as little as 300 square feet and developed as fully furnished luxury units. This project's apartment units will average about 326-square-feet each and would have movable furniture to increase the efficiency of the small interior spaces. As a result of the furnished nature, there won't be moving trucks lining the streets and alleys when tenants move in and out, hence the ability to not have a full size loading dock in the plans, but rather just a rear door leading to Federal Street. 
The units will be split between 90 standard apartments and 40 extended stay units. The apartments will come with a minimum of one year leases for maximum of one person per unit, while the extended stay option comes with shorter and more flexible leases starting with a one month minimum. The residences will make up floors 2-14, with the standard rentals arranged at 10 units per floor within the small building footprint. At the ground floor, a single retail space would be located along Polk Street and a lobby entrance would then face towards Dearborn Street. The 15th floor is setback with an open air terrace and serves as amenity space spanning the entire top of the building.

Good to see that these two projects are still active.  They would be good and interesting additions to the neighborhood!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Helmut Jahn Tower Revealed for 1000 S. Michigan

Lots of good development info this week.

Probably the juiciest new thing is the reveal of the shortened and resdesigned Helmut Jahn high-rise proposed for 1000 S. Michigan.  The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin gives the rundown:
Responding to concerns that their first proposal was too tall, developers on Monday unveiled a scaled-down version of a Helmut Jahn-designed high-rise for South Michigan Avenue. The proposal, which cuts the tower's height by nearly 200 feet, would still create the tallest building in the row of high-rises across Michigan Avenue from Grant Park.
Known by its address of 1000 S. Michigan, the 832-foot apartment and condominium tower would rise at the south end of the Historic Michigan Boulevard District, a city landmark district created in 2002. It would conform to newly proposed city design guidelines that suggest capping heights in the district at 900 feet. That trim means a loss of bragging rights.
The original plan, which called for a tower of 86 stories and 1,030 feet, would have been Chicago's seventh-tallest building, assuming the planned Wanda Vista tower is built. At 73 stories and 832 feet, however, it would move back to around the 15th-tallest.
The proposed tower also has a new look. The first version envisioned a series of stacked, slightly overhanging cubes that grew in size as the skyscraper rose. The new version eliminates that stepped profile in favor of a sleeker curving silhouette.

While the older design was more distinct this looks much more elegant to us.  It's not as interesting, still seems good looking and would be a welcomed addition to the Sloop's skyline.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Saraya Salon & Spa Coming to State and 14th

A reader writes:
I just noticed a sign go up for Saraya Salon and Spa at the corner of State and 14th Place. Do you have any info on this new business? I couldn't find anything online about them.
We don't have any readers?

(Hat tip:  RV!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Kamin Column: Build Lucas Museum on Train Tracks West of LSD

The embattled Lucas Museum that is slated to be built on a parking lot just south of Soldier Field continues to be in the news.  This time, one of our favorite writers/columnists at the Chicago Tribune, Blair Kamin, weighs in on the current situation.  This is from last week, but we highly suggest reading if you haven't.

While Kamin provides some background on the current situation and calls-out the mayor for his blindness and lack of flexibility, the thing that was of most interest to us was the alternative solution that Kamin highlights from a different architect (via Chicago Tribune):
The obvious course is to find another spot that will put the Lucas Museum near the Museum Campus and let its patron erect the iconic building he so fervently desires. Veteran Chicago architect Thomas Hickey, who's been following the case, has such a site in mind. It partly consists of a surface parking lot directly across Lake Shore Drive from the Lucas site. 
Following Millennium Park's precedent, Hickey suggests building a deck that would bridge over the lot and railroad tracks to its west. The museum would go on the deck, with essentially the same twin-peaked profile as the current plan but more elongated to fit the narrower site. The structure would sit west of Lake Shore Drive's center line, meaning that it would be off the lakefront and not vulnerable to legal challenges. 
Like the fingers of a starfish, ramps would extend out from the deck, joining it to the surrounding area. One would reach across Lake Shore Drive, linking the Lucas building to the Museum Campus to the east. Another would engage the emerging McCormick Place entertainment district, including the under-construction arena for DePaul University basketball, to the west. 
That's a brilliant stroke — the museum would literally form a bridge between those two downtown leisure centers, bringing greater foot traffic and attendance to both. There's already a Metra station right at 18th Street. Parking for about 1,000 cars would go under the deck. The current Lucas site would retain some parking, but it would be surrounded with greenery, like the lakefront lots at 31st Street Beach.

We like this for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it takes an isolating eyesore (the train tracks) and uses the building and development to connect various elements of the neighborhood.

While it seems like a novel idea, it would be costly and probably unlikely.  There is also a big $3 billion development proposal that was floated last October called "Gateway" that might infringe on this idea.

So moral of the story, don't hold your breath, but man this would be a good solution.