Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Hotel & Arena on Cermak a Step in the Right Direction for the Neighborhood

Yesterday we posted about some retail openings on Cermak and today we post about Blair Kamin's take on the new Marriott Marquis and the Wintrust Arena.  All in all, he's not super impressed with the architectural additions, but did note that simply building these structures were a step in the right direction for the area (via Chicago Tribune):
However one comes down on the issue of whether the hotel and arena were worth building, it’s likely that they will advance McPier’s goal of creating a vibrant convention and entertainment district. But achieving that goal will require the endurance of a marathon, not the short-burst energy of sprint. There are good steps here and they could some day help lead to a buzzing South Loop version of the city’s revitalized Near West Side. But it will take much more, particularly the restoration and re-use of historic buildings in the nearby Motor Row district, to make the area around McCormick Place walkable and an authentic part of Chicago — in short, a place with a there there.

We were recently down in the area and while it still lacks the buzz of Roosevelt or some of the streets north of that, it does feel like it's moving in the right direction.  We'll see if it can be sustained.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Steve's Bite Opens at 80 E. Cermak

Looks like a new diner type of restaurant has opened at 67 E. Cermak (between Michigan and Wabash).  We can't find much online in the form of a website or yelp reviews.  A reader sent us the following pic of their menu:

Additionally, we noticed that Chef Luciano has done some additional renovations and has opted for a very clean, modern look for their restaurant.

This stretch of Cermak continue to evolve.  Should be curious if the momentum continues.

(Hat tip:  NL!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

No Sloop Restaurants Earn Michelin Bib Gourmand Ranking

The Michelin Bib Gourmand rankings are out again and again no South Loop spots make the grade.  If you're not familiar with these rankings, here is how they're classified (via Eater):
The Bib Gourmands reward "quality restaurants that have menu items that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuity)." Restaurant owners, including the owners of San Soo Gab San, have said the honor often attracts new customers.
As far as we can tell, the last restaurants in the South Loop to earn the classification was Kurah and Opart Thai during the 2015 awards.  Why they fell of in subsequent years - your guess is as good as ours.

As of now, it doesn't seem like the Sloop has many "Bib's" on the horizon.  Maybe Lobo Rey could be considered for next year?  Outside of that not sure...

The "Bib's" are awarded the week before the more prestigious Michelin stars come out.  So expect to hear some news on that front this week.  The venerable South Loop fine dinning spot Acadia likely will earn stars again.  For the past two years, it has earned two-stars which puts it in a rarefied dinning class in the city.  Curious to see if they can make it three years in a row.

Friday, October 13, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Jamacia Jerk Villa & Bar Opens on Motor Row

A reader writes:
Jerk Villa finally reopened and I haven't seen it mentioned.

Judging by Yelp, it appears that it's actually been open since late June.

As a reminder, the original Jerk Villa was located at the NE corner of Cermak and State and was destroyed during a huge fire on December 31st, 2014.  This new location has been rumored for awhile and glad to see it finally open. 

(Hat tip: JH!)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dollop Coffee Co. Coming to New High-Rise at 801 S. Financial

Looks like the neighborhood is getting a popular, local coffee shop chain - Dollop Coffee Co:

It appears that this is going in the new 33 story high-rise dubbed Alta Roosevelt at the corner of Polk and Financial.

Probably smart move by Dollop.  There is going to be a lot of new people buzzing around with all the development in this area.

(Hat tip:  SL & SE!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Not Just Cookies Moving into Retail Space at 901 S. Plymouth Ct. in November

A reader forwards us an interesting email from the property managers at 901 S. Plymouth Ct:
Hello 901 Residents,

As we prepare for the new commercial lease beginning in November with Not Just Cookies, a retail space for their bakery, 901 Cleaners have begun the process of moving their items from the space. They expect to be finished and no longer open and accepting packages as of October 8th.

If you have clothes at the cleaners currently, please plan to pick them up at earliest convenience, and note that further clothing drop offs will not be accepted.

Not Just Cookies will also be accepting packages when they move into the space, and we will post their hours once confirmed, but they are to have more consistent weekday and expanded weekend hours than the cleaners.

In the interim, we will be working with staff on accepting deliveries and storing packages for pickup onsite during business hours, and will have further details shortly on the process that will be in place in the down time between tenants while some light remodeling is being done.

Again, further details are to come and door drops with said info will be made early next week, but we look forward to the positive change.

Best regards!

Very interesting!  Seems like there are some unknowns still, but if this is a legit bakery it's something that the neighborhood has been craving for some time.  That being said, we're pretty sure the retail space is relatively small, so uncertain if this is just a retail spot for the distribution of Not Just Cookies.

Upon searching the web, information was a little spotty.  Their website seems up-to-date, but doesn't have a ton of information.  Here is how they describe themselves:
Not Just Cookies - NJC is a cookie company providing, natural desserts superior in quality and taste. Our cookies and pies are made with the finest ingredients. We offer select gluten free and vegan desserts that our rich in taste. Not Just Cookies is a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). NJC was created ten years ago by Johnathon Bush.

It also seems as if Mr. Bush started the business in 2006 when he was 13.  So we guess that means he's in his mid-20s? 

Anyway, curious to hear more about this one!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pazzo's Appears to Be Coming to 825 S. State (Former Jimmy Green's Bar & Grill)

Looks like a new restaurant is heading to South State street:

We're not familiar with Pazzo's, but it appears they have a restaurant/event space at 311 S. Wacker and a closed restaurant at 23 E. Jackson Blvd.  From looking at their website and yelp pages it looks like a moderately priced traditional Italian restaurant.

Has anyone been?

Seems like a good addition to the neighborhood.

This stretch of South State has seen a lot of activity recently and with Pazzo's, the entire block appears to be leased.  Just north of Pazzo's will be Taco Madre (which you can see in the pic above).  Additionally, South Loop Market is moving in at the corner of State and 9th.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

It's Chicago Marathon Weekend!

It's Chicago Marathon weekend and the race is coming to the Sloop on Sunday (via Tribune):
On Oct. 8, for 26.2 miles through 29 neighborhoods, about 40,000 participants and about 1.7 million spectators will descend on the city for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Officials encourage the use of public transportation to get to the course and transit agencies will beef up service. The route begins and ends in Grant Park, passing some of the city's main landmarks along the way. See the map below for when streets, which will be closed for most of the morning, will reopen, on a rolling basis.

The course

Description: The fast, flat course is home to four world records, several national records and countless personal bests. There is only one slight incline in the final mile of the course on Roosevelt Road. (Note: The route is subject to change.)

Start times:

Wheelchair race: 7:20 a.m.
Handcycle: 7:21 a.m.
Athletes with disabilities: 7:23 a.m.
Three waves of runners start at 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and 8:35 a.m.
Duration: The course is open for six hours, 30 minutes. Registrants must be capable of completing the full distance, start line to finish line, within this time requirement (approximately 15 minutes per mile). Participant net times greater than the event time requirement will not be recognized as official.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Las Vegas Shooter Had Hotel Room in Sloop During Lollapalooza

As the investigation around the Las Vegas shooting tragedy continues, a chilling piece of information hits close to home (via Chicago Tribune):
The mystery over mass shooter Stephen Paddock deepened Thursday with news he rented rooms at Chicago's Blackstone Hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park in August, two months before he opened fire at a country music concert in Las Vegas.

Paddock reserved two rooms on the park side of the hotel with a clear view of the outdoor festival, but he never showed up, according to a law enforcement source, who asked for anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to publicly disclose the details.

Pretty scary stuff.

This story reminds us of the Obama election rally in Grant Park in 2008.  Security was very tight obviously, but we were concerned about the vulnerabilities.  Here is a picture from a post we did on November 2nd 2008.

While they had bullet proof glass protecting Obama, it still felt risky:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ko Me Japanese Eatery Appears to Be Making Progress at 1303 S. Michigan

Looks like we have a name for the new spot at 1303 S. Michigan:
This was in the window of the old Ameritalia restaurant on Michigan and 13th...

So we know it's going to be called Ko Me and we now know it's going to focus on some trendy stuff (hello Ramen and Poke Bowls!).  Word was that this restaurant was from the Kai Sushi peeps when we posted back June.

Seems interesting to us.

As a reminder, the most recent restaurant in this space was Ameritalia - which closed in February.  This was proceeded by the popular Italian Deli Panozzo's which closed way back in 2013.

(Hat tip:  HL!)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

More Renderings Revealed for Post Office Rennovation

More deets and renderings for the Post Office renovation (via Curbed):
Developer 601W Companies and Mayor Emanuel are taking the wraps off of the Old Main Post Office renovation this afternoon by revealing new renderings and more details on the $600 million project. While the renovation of the hulking 2.8 million square foot building has been underway for about a year, today signals the beginning of a major marketing push to attract interest and leases for future office tenants.
Originally built in the 1930s to help serve Chicago’s mail order behemoths such as Sears and Montgomery Ward, the Art Deco giant is currently being transformed by a team of 200 construction workers representing 27 different contractors, 601W reveals in a press release. Simply titled The Post Office, the upcoming development will feature large spans of office space for 21st century businesses.

Monday, October 2, 2017

62-Year-Old Woman Fights Off Potential Kidnapper

WTF (via
A man tried to pull a 62-year-old woman into a car in the South Loop neighborhood Sunday night, but she was able to fight him off, police said. 
The woman was in the 200 block of West 19th street just after 8 p.m. when the man drove up in a light-colored sedan and tried to pull her into the car, police said in a media notification.

Stay safe and be vigilant!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

State Street Arts Corridor? Two New Murals Come to the Street

While we've written a bunch about the Wabash Arts Corridor and it doesn't appear that State street will eclipse Wabash in regard to "art", it still is exciting to see more artwork come to the neighborhood.

Here are two we've recently heard about on State street:

2113 S. Indiana (South facing wall):

1600 S. State (North facing wall via Hello South Loop!)

(Hat tip:  KS & MBD!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

76-Story Viñoly's High-Rise at Indiana/Roosevelt Gets a Second Crane

Looks like the huge 76-Story Viñoly High-Rise got a second crane:

The reader actually sent an interesting observation which is hard to see - so we zoomed in:
2nd New Crane assembled today at 113 E Roosevelt. This is a Morrow Crane. You can see the assembly crew(3) all the way to the top.

(Hat tip:  CBL!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Retail Closings: Freshii in Target & Health Elements

A couple closing to bring you up-to-speed on:

1)  The Freshii in Target appears to be closed based on a post we read on Hello South Loop,  As a reminder, Freshii opened in October of 2015 and was one location of a broader partnership between the healthy food chain and Target.

As judging by the picture to the right, the test didn't go so well.  While it was nice to have a Freshii in the neighborhood some questioned the quality and service of the location.  We had numerous occasions where the quantities of food ranged wildly and the consistency of the quality was often a conern  (for instance to much sauce!).

It would be nice to have a Freshii (or Protein Bar) in the neighborhood, but it would also probably be beneficial if it was a legit franchise - not an offshoot.

2)  A reader writes that Health Elements at 79 E. 16th street has officially closed their doors about two weeks ago.  We don't have much to say about this place.  So yeah, not terribly upset about this one.

(Hat tip: ND & JO!)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Half Sour Looks to be Moving Into Former Blackie's Space (755 S. Clark)

We posted about Blackie's closing back in June.  At that time, one of our readers noted that they heard a deli concept was moving in.  However, since then we haven't heard much.

Fast forward to last week and we had a neighbor give us a tip about a new restaurant called "Half Sour" coming to the spot. Judging by some Instagram searching, it appears that's confirmed:

If you look at their Instagram account and if you're like us, you're going to be intrigued by the concept. All the food porn is enticing and any restaurant that derives their name from a pickle type will get the benefit of the doubt in our world.  This looks amazing to us...can't wait to try it out!

A post shared by Half Sour (@halfsourchicago) on
A post shared by Half Sour (@halfsourchicago) on
(Hat tip: MINTY!)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Gioco - a Neighborhood Pionner - Appears to Be Closing at 1312 S. Wabash

Some big news for the South Loop restaurant scene (via Eater):
Gioco, a neighborhood restaurant pioneer that opened in 1999 before the South Loop real estate boom began, may soon end its 18-year run. A broker has listed the restaurant space for lease and is searching for a tenant who will pay 2017 market price. The restaurant’s lease is up in August 2018, but the landlord is optimistic that another tenant could be in place before the lease expires which would force the rustic Italian restaurant to close. 
The rent should skyrocket with the new lease thanks to the dozens of condo towers built over the years near Roosevelt and Michigan avenues, said Gioco co-owner Howard Davis. Back when it opened 18 years ago at 1312 S. Wabash Ave., Gioco was the only retail spot around.
This would be a bittersweet one for us.  One of our friends actually lived above the restaurant way back in the early 2000's and we vividly remember visiting her and being impressed with the vibe Gioco, Opera and Zapatista brought to this block.

In reality, all three were fine spots, but the food was simply mediocre in our opinion.  They all were trying pretty hard and for a new neighborhood, that was sufficient.

The new crop of spots that have recently moved in - The Scout, Flo & Santos, Lobo Rey, Asian Outpost - seem to be an improvement from the pioneers.  Yes, many of them feature the sports bar vibe, but we actually like the food at those places better than Opera and Zapatista.

Gioco will be missed, but we will be curious to see what moves in.  Hopefully it's something new and interesting.  We've really enjoyed Asian Outpost and are excited about Lobo Rey.  Hopefully some fresh blood will bring even more excitement to one of the Sloop best stretches.

Anyway, thanks to Gioco for the solid run and paving the way for the Sloop to grow.

(Hat tip: ND & NK!)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lobo Rey Officially Opens at 1307 S. Wabash

In case you missed it, Lobo Rey - the highly anticipated Mexican restaurant - has officially opened at 1307 S. Wabash.  As a reminder Eater Chicago gives a top line of the concept:
Lobo Rey, a Mexican restaurant featuring flattop table grills and a quick-serve taqueria component, will debut to the general public on Friday in the South Loop, near Soldier Field. The restaurant neighbors The Scout, a popular Bears game day bar on the corner of Wabash and 13th Street, and it shares the same owners. Daniel Espinoza, an Eater Young Gun semifinalist — who’s cooked for Diner Lab pop-ups in Chicago, and who developed the menu at Holy Taco! in Lincoln Park — is in charge of Lobo Rey’s kitchen.
We haven't been yet, but generally speaking the first Yelp reviews seem positive (3 five stars, 4 four stars and 1 three star).  The restaurant is still operating on limited hours and what appears to be a streamlined menu.

That being said, we're pretty excited to check this out.  Has anyone been?  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another "Boil" Concept - Asian Cajun - Coming to 2113 S. State

A reader writes:
Looks like something is finally coming to 2113 S. State street, right next to Reggie's and the gyro/burger place that keeps changing hands. Asian Cajun ( according to the sign. Unfamiliar with what is apparently the original in Lincoln Park, but looks interesting!

Definitely an interesting concept and addition to this portion of the neighborhood.  This "boil" restaurant concept ironically also comes on the heels of a post we did last week about Low Country coming to 1132 S. Wabash (old location of the closed Belly-Up BBQ restaurant).

Looks like this trend is officially invading the Sloop!

(Hat tip:  KS!)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Renderings for the Renovation of the Old Post Office

Curbed Chicago has the latest on the high-profile renovation of the old Post Office.  This rendering makes us eager for what may be in store:

While this is clearly in the works, a major wild-card has been put in play for the development.   Many feel that this building is an ideal candidate should Amazon choose Chicago for their HQ2 sweepstakes.  There is a lot of competition for where Amazon will land, but if somehow Chicago wins the right, this does seem like an enticing option for the e-commerce juggernaut.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Taco Madre and South Loop Market Moving in on 800 S. State Block

It seems like retail activity is really picking up around the Sloop.  Today we've got an update on a post we did last week and another piece of news about something in the same building.

First, on Thursday last week we posted about a Mexican restaurant coming to 823 S. State.  Well signs are up in the windows now and it appears it's Taco Madre:

We're not familiar with Taco Madre, but according to the Google there are three existing spots in the burbs.  Before the naysayers say - "Why do we keep on getting suburban spots trying to move into the city?"  Maybe you should look at their 4.5 star Yelp review.  Has anyone ever had Taco Madre and can you vouch for this spot?

We've also noticed that South Loop Market is moving into the corner of State and 9th.  This space has forever been vacant, so definitely a welcome addition.  South Loop Market has a variety of locations throughout the neighborhood so they know what they're doing.

This stretch of south State street is getting a shot in the arm and is finally starting to warrant solid foot traffic.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tribune Looks at the New Marriott Marquis at 2121 S. Prairie

We knew that the new Marriott Marquis was a big building, but this review in the Tribune really shines a new light on that (via Tribune):
Big, tall, powerful and gleaming, the 40-floor, 1,205-room Marquis will be Chicago’s sixth-largest hotel when it opens on Sunday.

After nearly two years of construction, Marquis embraces, perhaps even flaunts, its scope: Spaces are broad, the lobby ceiling reaches 30 feet, the restaurant serving three meals a day seats 400, and natural light floods in through floor-to-ceiling windows.

In the era of boutique and lifestyle hotels, Marriott Marquis is sprawling and powerfully urban — albeit with the occasional boutique amenity, such as the ability to order room service on your phone and the art commissioned by 40 Chicago artists. Many of the pieces have QR codes for more information about the art and the artist.

The Chicago property marks Marriott's seventh Marquis hotel in its portfolio. Each is located in a major city and has 1,000 or more guest rooms and at least 90,000 square feet of event space. It is the largest new hotel in the Marriott chain to open this year anywhere on the planet.

The reason for all that space is the hotel’s neighbor: McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America. A pedestrian bridge connects Marriott Marquis to all 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space inside McCormick Place, which makes the new hotel a natural destination for convention goers.

That's going to bring a lot of people down to the area.  Hopefully the retail follows!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mexican Restaurant Coming to Small Retail Space Between XSport & Former Jimmy Greens Space at 823 S. State?

Looks like a new Mexican restaurant is coming to 823 S. State according to this permit:

It appears this is for the small retail space that was for a healthy restaurant called Ufood and then was annexed by Jimmy Green's Bar & Restaurant as a private party space.  Jimmy Greens closed and now it appears this restaurant is moving into the small space.

There is a decent amount of Mexican options in the area (Flacos Tacos, Spanglish, Mago Grill & Cantina and the recently opened Lobo Rey).  That being said, you can never have too many tacos!

(Hat tip:  DS, MD,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Welcome to Chicago's Super Loop

Blair Kamin - Chicago Tribune Architecture Columnist - has a fun read about the boom of construction in what he calls the "Super Loop" (via Tribune):
A flock of construction cranes fills the sky. Downtown's population is soaring. The skyline is changing and so is the texture of city life.

A generation ago, West Madison Street was Chicago's Skid Row home to winos and flophouses. It is now a chic strip of sushi joints, cycle studios, preschools and a gourmet ice cream shop. But the architectural fare consists of bland apartment high rises that have drawn complaints of monotony.

In River North, the old Ed Debevic's, a faux '50s diner best known for gum-snapping, table-dancing waiters and waitresses, is gone, replaced by a eye-grabbing apartment tower whose cantilevered wedges of glass resemble a Jenga game in midstream. Yet that building is an anomaly amid the bland, form-follows-finance high-rises popping up elsewhere in the neighborhood and around the city.

So it goes in The Great Chicago Post-Recession Building Boom. A surge of tall buildings, the vast majority of them housing rental apartments, is creating a densely populated, urban core — call it the Super Loop — that is pushing far beyond the borders of the traditional downtown. But the Super Loop is patently un-super in at least one respect: It lacks a new version of the technological and aesthetic innovations that made Chicago's reputation as the cradle of modern architecture.

And that's the tone of the article in general.  Despite the negativity, it's a good read on many levels.  Kamin's provide some surprising info about the Super Loop:
Consider, though, the bright side of the building boom, which has been overshadowed by the violence wracking parts of Chicago's West and South sides. For city lovers who believe that density, rather than sprawl, is the ideal path to cutting car use, saving energy and halting the effects of climate change, these are, in many ways, the best of times:

—Nearly 229,000 people now live in the central area roughly bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, the Stevenson Expressway on the south, Ashland Avenue on the west and North Avenue on the north, according to an analysis of population data done for the Tribune by Chicago-based demographer Rob Paral.

That's an increase, since 1990, of more than 82,000 — more than the population of Evanston. Three-quarters of the gain has occurred since 2000 as waves of high-rise residential construction — first primarily condominiums, then, after the recession, chiefly rental apartments — remade the city's core.

Taken by itself, the Super Loop would form Illinois' second-largest city, easily topping No. 2 Aurora, which has about 201,000 residents.
The article isn't solely focused on the Sloop, but it does provide some shout-outs - most notably where it gives design props to 1101 S. States "guitar-like curves".

If you've got the time we'd suggest the read.  It's an interesting read if you're curious about architecture, design and urban trends.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Domes & Shipping Containers Come to Vacant 62-Acre Related Midwest Property

A reader writes:
Related (the developer for the property) is assembling a geodesic dome down on the tundra as I write.

If you recall, we posted about a plan Related had to bring pop-up food and retail and other events to the vacant land as plans for development will likely take awhile to really formulate.  Maybe this is it...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Owners of Low Country Southern Boil Restaurant Opening Something at Former Belly-Up Space (1132 S. Wabash)?

A reader writes:
Not sure if you've seen this, but last night it was posted on the old Belly Up. Seems to be the same company that owns Low Country up North.

We're not familiar with ME Restaurants or Low Country, but if that's true and they're opening up a similar concept it would be something different for the neighborhood.  Low Country (3343 N. Clark) seems to be popular according to Yelp where it has 4.5 stars on 380+ reviews.  

Here is a video from their website that likely we make you hungry (and excited about the possibilities):

The location and space is pretty good.  However, it's currently buried behind scaffolding at the new 26-story high-rise at 1140 S. Wabash.  The previous restaurant Belly-Up seemed to feel the brunt of that challenge, but the scaffolding will eventually go away so this new concept should be setup for some solid foot traffic.

Does anyone have any other info on this one?

(Hat tip:  AB & BH!)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sloopin Open House: 3bd Recently Remodeled Condo Under $400K with a Murphy Bed

We recently stumbled upon a cool unit that recently went up for sale by its owners.  The unit at 40 E. 9th street is Apt #1608 as is a 3bd/2bth listed for $369K.

If you're familiar with the building you know there are some interesting layouts and this one also fits that mold.  Beyond that, two things stand out to us:

1)  We love the concept of murphy beds as a space saver and this unit has a pretty cool one:

2)  They used some pretty solid "eco-friendly" materials for their remodel (which is how we found the listing):
Parking is not included in the price but is listed for an additional $29K.  We've also learned that they will be hosting an open house today (9/9) and tomorrow (9/10) from 10am - 2pm.  Go check it out!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Could Amazon "HQ2" Be Delivered to South Loop?

Despite all of the scary weather and political news happening, it seemed like everywhere we looked yesterday we saw articles about Amazon's RFP to cities seeking info on a second HQ.

May Jeff Bezos have his sights set on Chi?
Naturally, everyone across the country is salivating about the business opportunities this poses for their respective interests.

It's not surprising that Chicago is going to aggressively bid on this (via Sun Times):
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pitching Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about building the company’s second North American headquarters in Chicago amid speculation that the e-commerce giant may be eyeing the North Branch industrial corridor.
Competition for the $5 billion prize and as many as 50,000 jobs is certain to be intense. But Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff with a national reputation, is hoping he has the clout to bring the bonanza home.

Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman disclosed Thursday that Emanuel has had several conversations with Bezos about choosing Chicago for a project the company has described as a “full equal” to its sprawling Seattle headquarters.

While a lot of dominoes have to fall for this to eventually happen, you would have to think Chicago has a decent shot given a multitude of variables (international airport, central location, educated workforce, to name a few).

The local media is already thinking where a massive Amazon headquarters could land in Chicago and it seems like the Sloop has numerous spots that could be attractive.

The first that seems most poetic would be the Old Post Office (via Crains):
A poster child for stalled redevelopment, the hulking structure straddling the Eisenhower Expressway is undergoing a $500 million rehab at the direction of developer 601W. The existing building is 2.6 million square feet, and 601W has zoning to add another 5 million. It has high visibility and is right next to Union Station. "The Post Office can handle their whole requirement," said Telos Group President Brian Whiting, who is overseeing leasing of the building. One hurdle to clear could be the cost and logistical challenge of building over a major highway.
Related Midwest 62-Acre Lot South of Roosevelt
Another interesting opportunity would be the 62-Acre undeveloped Related Midwest property just south of Roosevelt between the river and Clark (via Crains):
The vacant 62-acre piece stretching a half-mile south from Roosevelt Road along the Chicago River has plenty of room for a corporate campus. Developer Related Midwest has envisioned a mixed-use development, but has not submitted any plans with the city. The site is one of the largest empty tracts in Chicago and is surrounded by transportation options.
Another spot that seems logical would be the Michael Reese campus that was bought by the city for the failed 2016 Olympic Bid.  It seems like that would be a boon for the South Side as well as a engine to help revitalize the area around McCormick Place and Motor Row (which we know the city is VERY focused on).

So....let's see where this ends up.  Could be another game changer for the South Loop if it happens.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Motor Row (aka McCormick Square?): The Hottest Neighborhood You've Never Heard Of

In case you missed this last week, some "positive" news on Motor Row and all of the activity around Cermak (via Crains):
Milan Rubenstein was nervous when he spent $19 million on a slew of mostly vacant properties on the Near South Side three years ago. Historic Motor Row on South Michigan Avenue and the area surrounding the McCormick Place convention center were so plagued by developmental false starts that even a new CTA train stop, 10,387-seat arena, 40-story hotel and a vow from the city of Chicago to transform the neighborhood into an entertainment district were no guarantee that his big bet would pay off.

"I was scared to death," says the partner at Windy City RE, which has historically specialized in buying and selling apartment complexes but splurged on mixed-use properties on and near Motor Row in 2013 and '14. Beyond the money he spent to purchase the properties, he had to spend millions more to fix them up. "Now I'm no longer scared. I'm very excited."

Motivated in part by the addition of Wintrust Arena and the 1,206-room Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel set to open in coming weeks, Rubenstein has in the past 18 months signed more than 15 leases with businesses to fill his retail and office space. His historic properties that once housed auto showrooms but sat empty for years have been filled in recent months with tenants that hint at gentrification: bars, restaurants, a day care, a boutique gym and even a dog grooming business. Residential units above the retail properties are getting snapped up as well, some for 20 percent more than he underwrote them for when he purchased the properties three or four years ago, he says.

These are early signals that the entertainment hot spot he envisions for the area with year-round activity instead of ebbs and flows of traffic from convention-goers may be starting to form—though the road ahead is still long.

It's an interesting read...BUT...still doesn't seem like the neighborhood is that hot yet.  Yes a lot of developers and investors are eating up properties, but we've heard this story before.

I guess we'll see.  We're optimistic, but again we're taking a more cautious approach.  The proof will be in the pudding.

(Hat tip:  AR & AD!)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eater Chicago Says Lobo Rey May Be Opening This Week

Looks like Lobo Rey (1307 S. Wabash) may be opening this week (via Eater):
Chef Daniel Espinoza was busy last week in the South Loop as he trained the opening staff at Lobo Rey, the new Mexican restaurant from the ownership of The Scout — the sports bar at the corner of Wabash and 13th Street. Lobo Rey, 1307 S. Wabash Ave., should open as early as next week. It’s a versatile space serving to-go tacos on Bears’ game days, and showcasing culinary theater from Espinoza as he prepares antojitos in front of customers seated at a flattop table-grills. They’ll also sling churros and other breads baked by Jhoana Ruiz, Espinoza’s wife.
If anyone has more info, let us know.  We're excited to check this one out!

Friday, September 1, 2017

In Honor of Controversial NFL Quarterback Colin Kaeperick, Two South Loop Bars Will Not Show NFL Games

With the NFL regular season about to kick-off next week it was interesting to see two South Loop bars make a statement (via NBC5):
Some bars near Chicago's Soldier Field say they won't show NFL games until Colin Kaepernick is signed, joining many in the city and around the country in showing support for the jobless quarterback.
Two South Loop bars owned by Kenny Johnson have said they won't televise NFL games in support of the QB without a team. The Velvet Lounge and the Bureau Bar are both part of the boycott.
"For us to be promoting 'Come into our bar and watch NFL' when all Colin Kaepernick was trying to do was take a stand on something that he believed in, I thought this was a way that I could support him," Johnson said.

Kaepernick became a hot button issue in the NFL and across much of the country last year with his decision to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Kaepernick said he was spurred by a desire to draw attention to societal issues facing African Americans, including police violence.
Kaepernick was released by the 49ers during the offseason and has yet to sign with another team, leading many to speculate he's being blackballed by the league.

Not everyone is convinced Kaepernick's social stance is the only reason he's no longer in the NFL. Recently, 49ers great Joe Montana said he believed Kaepernick's sub-par play was another factor keeping him out of the NFL.
Good for them!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Reader Takes Issue With a Statement from CPS About Changes to South Loop Schooling

A reader writes:
What's new here (attached from CPS) is the language about racial diversity: "correcting a historic wrong", pointing out that the new schools with larger district lines would be highly diverse, etc.
That's in response to the criticism from NTA parents who have been saying that the current South Loop School is "for the white families" and that these changes are designed to give "the white South Loop people a high school." In reality the current South Loop School is mostly nonwhite, and both the new larger elementary school and the new high school will be as well. But clearly CPS has felt stung by that accusation regardless of its accuracy.

(Hat tip: PB!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

CPS Formally Recommends to Convert National Teachers Academy to South Loop High School

According to various sites, it looks like the conversion of National Teachers Academy is happening (via DNAinfo):
The controversial closure of National Teachers Academy in favor of a new South Loop high school is moving forward.
Chicago Public Schools formally recommended Friday that the South Loop grade school at 55 W. Cermak Road be closed and converted to a new neighborhood high school serving all or parts of the South Loop, Bronzeville, Bridgeport, Chinatown and other Near South Side neighborhoods.
One thing that was a slight surprise to us was the following blurb:
All students at National Teachers Academy would be eligible to attend South Loop Elementary School, which stands to have three campuses including its current building at 1212 S. Plymouth Court and early childhood center at 1915 South Federal St.
Does this mean the current school is still going to remain a school servicing the neighborhood? We heard a rumor it would and would be the lower grads, but haven't seen that confirmed. Anyone know?