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?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lobo Rey Getting Closer to Opening at 1307 S. Wabash

One of the more anticipated and potentially interesting restaurants in the neighborhood is getting ready to open.  Zagat has pegged it as one of "Chicago’s 13 Most Anticipated Fall Restaurant Openings":
A Zagat 30 Under 30 alum and fourth finalist on Top Chef Mexico, Daniel Espinoza has quite the pedigree, and he's bringing it to the South Loop early fall with Lobo Rey. Offering a modern approach to Mexican cuisine, Espinoza seeks to bridge the geographic gap between Mexico and the Midwest, using influences and ingredients from the ladder to inform the menu, which includes offbeat delicacies like scallop and pig ear tacos served on freshly made tortillas prepared with a 30-year old tortilla press handed down from Espinoza's mom. The chef's wife, Jhonana Ruiz, serves as pastry chef, baking up fresh breads and churros daily.
1307 S. Wabash Ave.
Looking forward to this one...

(Hat tip: ND!)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cirque de Soleil Commissions New Mural for Wabash Arts Corridor

Looks like Cirque de Soleil is adding to the Wabash Arts Corridor (via Suntimes):
Cirque du Soleil’s production, “Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico,” will be packing up its big top tents outside the United Center after the elaborate spectacle has its final performance in Chicago on Sept. 3. But the company is leaving behind a remembrance of its visit in the form of a recently completed public mural located at 33 E. Congress Parkway.

To help honor Chicago’s Year of Public Art, Cirque du Soleil, in partnership with Columbia College Chicago and the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC), commissioned local artist Gloria “Gloe” Talamantes to create a mural inspired by “Luzia,” a production whose images of butterflies and rain are captured in the work.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Royal Puppies Now Open at 2000 S. Wabash

A reader writes:
FYI Royale Puppies is now open!
If you're looking for more information checkout their website.

(Hat tip:  MP!)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Terrazio (1935 S. Wabash) Development Sells to San Francisco Investment Firm for $48 Million

A South Loop poster child for the real estate bubble has a new owner (via Crains):
A San Francisco investment firm paid $48 million for most of a failed South Loop condominium project, and it's not stopping there.

A venture led by FPA Multifamily acquired 165 rented condos in Terrazio, a 180-unit development at 1935 S. Wabash Ave. that ran into financial trouble after the condo crash. FPA acquired the units from New York-based Amalgamated Bank, which took them over in 2013 after filing a foreclosure suit on the property.

Now, FPA aims to buy the 15 condos it doesn't own, units the building's developer, Chicago-based Sedgwick Properties, sold before it lost control of the property.

After the condo bust, many downtown condo developers found themselves in a similar predicament, stuck with dozens of unsold condos and unable to pay off maturing construction loans. So they—or their lenders—just decided to rent out the unsold units and ride out the market.

FPA wants to run Terrazio as a pure apartment building, which is why it plans to court the owners of the 15 remaining condos.
We've had our eye on this property and it always just seemed off for some reason.  It's still surprising that no retail has opened in here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Alternative Viewpoint: Marc Realty's Offer for River City

Last week we posted a note from a reader who had issue with a real estate company trying to buy River City condos.

River City - Image from YoChicago
Well apparently not everyone feels the way this reader does.  We received a decent amount of emails sharing an alternative views on the topic.  To be fair, we thought we would post one of them:
I'm an avid Sloopin reader and greatly appreciate all of your efforts on keeping us all informed on what is going on in our South Loop neighborhood. Having said that, I wanted to provide you additional information on one of your posts so that you can provide accurate information to your readers.
You recently posted about Marc Realty's offers to purchase the River City Condo Association. I'm pretty sure the information you posted is from the same individual that sent you the information for your original post on this subject. I'm hoping you will post something from someone on the other side of this issue so that it's more balanced and not just maligning the majority of the owners in River City or Marc Realty. Although we can comment on your posts, the comments do not get the same attention as the actual posts. Therefore, by posting only one side, you and your readers are missing part of the story and doing a disservice to the rest of the owners of River City.

The latest post is accurate in that Marc Realty has approached us with two previous offers that were voted down and that we are currently waiting for the finalization of a third offer. However, it is very slanted. What this individual failed to mention to you in both posts are several points:
  • The first offer was a generous offer significantly above market value and has increased with each subsequent offer. This doesn't sound like abuse to me!! 
  • There are other very favorable terms in all three offers that actually make this an even better deal for the owners. 
  • The last offer was voted down by a very, very slim margin, just 0.3%, so the majority of owners were happy to hear of a third offer. 
  • River City has been approached by other potential buyers, in addition to Marc Realty, so the voting process would have been inevitable anyway. 
  • Marc Realty is not forcing the owners to vote over and over. Illinois Condominium Law requires that the Board present the offer to the Association for a vote, and the majority of owners are eager to receive and vote on this third offer. 
  • The majority of owners that want this next offer to succeed feel that they are being held hostage by the very small percentage that do not want it to go through. 
  • The normal business of the building has not been disrupted.  The Board is required to continue with business as usual unless and until the Condo Association enters an agreement to sell, and they have been doing just that. For the other individual to state otherwise is a misrepresentation of our Board's actions. 
  • Prior to an agreement being reached, every owner still has the right to sell their unit outright or rent it out as allowed within our Bylaws. Again, business as usual 
While I understand and respect that some owners are not interested in selling their units, it is unfortunate that one individual chooses to present this as an overly negative offer and process when in fact it is neither.

(Hat tip:  HP & CT!)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Day is Here!

A rare Solar Eclipse is happening today and across our country millions of people will undoubtedly be looking up to catch a glimpse.  Beware - if not viewed proper it can cause some serious damage.

Curbed Chicago outlines some thoughts on the event and where to watch it:
On Monday, August 21, 2017, a rare solar eclipse will be visible across all of North America, and Chicagoans will be able to get a good glimpse (while wearing protective eyewear, of course) of the astronomical event. Weather permitting, the eclipse will start around 11:54 a.m. and by 1:19 p.m., the moon will block 87% of the sun. Fortunately, there will be numerous eclipse watching parties in Chicago on Monday the 21st for residents to check out.
Unsurprisingly,, #1 on Curbed's list is the Sloop's Adler Planetarium:
The Adler Planetarium is going all out for the big solar eclipse. Dubbed Chicago’s Eclipse Fest, the Adler is hosting a whole block party complete with outdoor activities and live experiences throughout the morning and early afternoon. Attendees will be provided with solar viewing glasses for the big eclipse once it happens. The event will be family-friendly and is certainly one to consider for children.
Northerly Island also gets some love coming in at #8:
If watching parties are not your thing, consider staking out a space somewhere on Northerly Island. Far from the big downtown crowds, the island features a tranquil environment which is perfect for experiencing the event in more private and relaxing surroundings. You’ll have to bring your own solar shades though.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2017 Air & Water Show Weekend is Upon Us

One of our favorite weekends is upon us - the Chicago Air and Water Show.  While most of the activity centers around North Avenue beach, you can still get a great glimpse of the activities from various spots in the Sloop (one of our favorites is the lakefront between the Planetarium and Shedd).

Anyway, here is some info from Chicago Tribune:
The Blue Angels are back for the 2017 Chicago Air and Water Show on the lakefront Aug. 19 and 20. The team, made up of six blue and gold U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets, alternates years with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. A familiar cast of military and civilian aircraft will take over the skies over North Avenue Beach. Here is a guide to the show and performers.

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, and Sunday, Aug 20.

Looks like the weather this weekend is going to be great - don't forget to look up this weekend!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center's "Hiplet" Calls Printers Row Home

This is pretty cool and it's in Printers Row (via Great Big Story):

Here is the blurb for the video:
The dancers of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center plié, pirouette and jeté to their own rhythm in a new form called Hiplet. The dance draws on both the movements of hip-hop and classical ballet technique and is performed on pointe shoes. We caught up with the dance's creator, Homer Hans Bryant, to learn some of the moves, get the story behind its inception and find out what it takes to make it as a Hiplet dancer.
We weren't familiar with the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, but apparently they're our neighbors!!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Glance at "The Post Office" Opening in 2018

A reader snapped some pictures showcasing some of the work happening at the post office:

The first picture looks pretty cool inside and it appears that they're shooting to deliver this space next year.  Interesante...

For more info here is a link we did on the project back in July of 2017.

(Hat tip:  CPM!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Review of the Playground/Park at 21st and Prairie

A South Loop resident and fellow blogger sent us a link to her in-depth review of the new playground at 21st and Prairie.  Here is a snippet from her write-up (via AlphaKidsShine):
If you have not visited yet, the playground is rich with sensory stimuli for a child. Visual and tactile experiences abound however the space also incorporates extensive vestibular opportunities which will challenge a child's balance and awareness. The floor is a smooth rubber material, likely recycled, however the Chicago Park District website does not list the material of the playground flooring. Regardless, it is a good protective cushion for "falls" and is great for ADA wheelchair accessibility.

There are 3 sides of the playground: 
  • A smaller area for ages 6 month to 2-3 years old with more open space, miniature hills, and a small climbing/slide structure easy for parents to navigate 
  • A more dynamic side for ages 4 and up with rope climbs, tight ropes, monkey bars, an extremely tall slide, a rubber ladder, and climbing/sliding poles 
  • Water area with spouts and towers partitioned off by low rock barriers, which also happen to be fun for kids to climb

A good read and from the sounds of it a good (albeit expensive) addition to the neighborhood!

(Hat tip:  AKS!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is Third Time a Charm for Developer Seeking to Buy River City?

A reader just sent a note about a hot topic from last year:
Dear Sloopin, 
I just wanted to update you on your story of the deconversion of River City from 2016. In the last 2 years, Marc Realty has made 2 offers to buy all the condo units in River City in a bulk sale. They failed to gain the necessary percentage (75%) of owners’ votes both times. 
They have now made a third offer to buy the building. Apparently they plan to force us to vote over, and over, and over again until they find the minimum price that will get the requisite number of votes. The whole process has been unfair to owners who don’t wish to sell their homes, and has failed to protect their right to enjoyment of their property. As result of Marc’s repeated attempts, The normal business of the building has been disrupted for two years, and the lives of 450 owners has been put on hold because of the uncertainty of ownership. 
This process is an abuse of a law that was never intended to facilitate hostile takeovers of property by greedy developers who see a chance to cash in on hot neighborhoods. In Florida, this kind of abuse led to a change in their law to require 90% of owners to agree to a bulk sale. Illinois should follow Florida’s lead. 
RC resident owner
There were a lot of comments about a post we did back in January of 2016.  If this readers email is true it sounds devious.

Let us know what you think.

(Hat tip: PO!)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chicago Born Roller Derby Celebrates 82nd Birthday at Coliseum Park

Seems like we missed a fun and slightly quirky event at Coliseum Park (14th and Wabash) yesterday (via Sun Times):
Roller derby turned 82 on Sunday, and Thomas Schultz got the first slice of cake.

The 8-year-old Joliet native then handed — well, skated — it over to Chicago roller derby legend Mary Lou Palermo.

Both skaters share a love of the Chicago-born sport, known for its bawdy nicknames and rough-and-tumble thrills. Thomas started competing in 2017. Palermo did in 1944.
We don't know much about the sport, but this youtube video seems pretty sweet!

Friday, August 11, 2017

University Center Sold for $201 Million to Blue Vista Capital Management

In case you missed this last week (via Crains):
Three downtown colleges have switched from landlord to tenant after completing the biggest student housing deal ever in Chicago.

A nonprofit formed by the three schools—Columbia College, DePaul University and Roosevelt University—just completed the $201 million sale of University Center, a 1,729-bed building in the South Loop where their students live, according to Cook County property records. The nonprofit sold the 18-story building at 525 S. State St. to a joint venture led by Blue Vista Capital Management, a Chicago-based real estate investment firm that specializes in student housing.

The deal will free up money for the schools to spend on other purposes, though they now will pay rent to Blue Vista. Under the deal, the colleges signed agreements to lease a "vast majority" of the beds in the property for 10 years, said Blue Vista co-founder and CEO Peter Stelian, declining to elaborate. Another local school, Robert Morris University Illinois, has signed a shorter-term master lease for a batch of beds in the building, too.
That's a lot of money - but we guess it's a pretty big building in a pretty prime location.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Phenomenal Fitness Relocating from 1450 S. Michigan to 2001 S. State (Blue Star Apartment Retail Space at Cullerton and State)

A reader writes:
I noticed that there appears to be a gym getting ready to open on the corner of State and Cullerton and was wondering if you have any news on what type of gym this might be and their open date?
We actually just drove by the new apartments and did see a bunch of treadmills in the retail space at at the corner.

We received a separate email from the owners of Phenomenal Fitness and it appears they're moving to this space:
We were at 1450 S. Michigan and we moved to 2001 S. State.
Additionally, it sounds like they're going to be running a trial month promotion in honor of this move.  Reach out to them for more details.

As a reminder, we posted about this apartment conversion back in 2014.

(Hat tip:  VS!)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Poke Burrito Coming Soon to 453 S. Dearborn (Just North of Congress)

It looks like Printers Row (well...just north of Congress...but sure we'll call it that) is getting another Poke restaurant:

A reader also provides this perspective:
If I were opening a new business I'd look what was around and try and open something the neighborhood needed...not exactly what just opened 2 blocks down on the same street! Entrepreneurs take note...Printers Row needs a bakery...not another Poke place, hair salon or burger place.
(Hat tip: TR & MK!)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gordo's Provides Unique Dessert Option for the Sloop

We've been pretty intrigued about Gordo's (and Hax for that matter) opening on Dearborn in Printer's Row.  On paper both spots provide new options for a neighborhood craving new options.

While the style of service at Hax is the new news for that restaurant (more to come on that in subsequent weeks), the food at Gordo's is the story.

As a reminder, the process at Gordo's is "Pick. Dip. Sprinkle."  If that doesn't make sense, you pick an ice cream bar.  Dip it in some chocolate (dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate).  And sprinkle with a topping (various options exist.

We've been twice now and both experience have been good - but different.  We'll chalk this up to growing pains, but the first time we went they were out of various flavors of ice cream bars.  In their defense it was late in the evening so presumably things were picked over.

The second time was more normal.  We opted to follow "classic bars" that we're outline on the board instead of creating our own.


For our second, we went out on a limb and diverged from the typical ice cream bar format and got the Gordo's Super Sandwich: VANILLA ICE CREAM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE SANDWICH DIPPED IN MILK CHOCOLATE WITH HEATH BAR CRUNCH

The pictures don't really do justice to these things.  They were very delicious and super decadent (but that might have just been due to our choices).  However, they were beyond messy and frankly had to be eaten with a spoon (especially the cookie).

We're looking forward to trying some of the other options.  One word of advice, sharing might be a good option if you're only looking for a snack.  We had trouble finishing both...

Regardless, good luck to Gordo's.  They're definitely bringing a unique option to the hood.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Himalayan Express Opens at 606 S. Wabash; Mai Tai Also Apparently Opening at 614 S. Wabash

It looks like Himalayan Express is officially open at 606 S. Wabash.  As a reminder we got wind of this back in May.  According to a press release:
Napal natives and co-owners of the Himalayan Restaurant Group, Vivek Kunwar and Kiran Byanjankar, have proven their ability to recreate the authentic flavors and dishes of their homeland. Now the partners will open a third location as a new Indian dining concept and Chicago catering hub in Chicago this week. The restaurant at 606 S. Wabash will offer a unique express menu as well as the full sit- down service currently offered at its locations in Gurnee and Niles, which opened in 2003. 
“There’s a new trend to express dining,” says Kunwar. “Business people who want an authentic Indian meal do not necessarily have the time to sit down for lunch.” The express menu will be the first of this style for the cuisines of the Asian sub-continent of India. 
Express diners will have a choice of five entrees plus rice, sauce and side dishes for $7.69. The main courses include fresh vegetables, paneer, vegetable kofta, chicken and salmon. There will be a choice of four rice varieties, five sauces and five sides. Also available will be a la carte dishes such as Biryani (spiced rice), Momo Steamed and Momo Jhon (soup). Vegetable, chicken and lamb versions of these dishes will be served. “Selections will change periodically based on the preferences of our customers,” adds Kunwar.

Beyond this, it also looks like a new Asian restaurant called Mai Tai is also opening in this building:

This appears to be replacing the old sushi restaurant Tamarind.

(Hat tip: CK & OI!)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Knot Mural Comes to West Face of New Apartment Building at Balbo and Wabash

DNAinfo has the scoop on some new street art on the west face of the new apartment building at Balbo and Wabash:
The latest mural in the South Loop is "Beacon," a 16-story piece with a knot that ties together themes of the city's diversity and post-Fire rebirth.

The 165-foot-tall mural at 30 E. Balbo Ave. is the work of Jeff Zimmermann, who's other big murals include works at Oak Street Beach and the 606.

Zimmermann, who lives in Humboldt Park, said he finished "Beacon" last week after about a month of work. The ground floors of the mural show jagged shards of color reminiscent of flames, while the big, multi-colored knot on its upper floors represents Chicago's diverse population. When bound together, the people are stronger, Zimmermann said.

"You bring them together with tension and force, they can work together as one whole," Zimmermann said.

The mural at Balbo and Wabash avenues is a new addition to the artsy streetscape of Printers Row, which is known for big murals on vintage loft buildings, especially on Wabash. Zimmermann's is a rare mural on a new apartment building that opened just last year. The painting will be visible to riders on Downtown "L" tracks.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lollapalooza (Extended) Weekend Kicks-off Today

Love it or hate it, one of the summer's biggest events is upon us - Lollapalooza 2017.  If you're wondering, this is the second year that the annual music fest has extended its format from 3-days to 4-days starting today (Thursday, August 3rd).

While everyone clearly has different tastes in music and it still feels like Saturday's headlining gig for  Chicago Native Chance the Rapper has the most build-up.  Chance's career is still building (and has been documented a little bit on this here blog), but this is likely a major moment for him (although he did win a Grammy this year...).  As a reminder, he has spend some time in Sloop as he went to Jone College Prep!

There is a lot of (digital) ink spilled talking about the festivities, so we're not going to try to provide any new information.  Instead, here are some links that you may find interested if you're going or if you're not:

Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot outlines the most highly anticipated shows for each day at the festival.  We've always trusted his recommendations so if you're looking for some help, we highly encourage you to read the post.

Consequence of Sound ranks every Lolla lineup from worst to best.  FYI - they claim 2008 was the best when Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Wilco, The Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkely, The Black Keys and many many more graced us with their music talents (that was a hell of a year).

Chicago Tribune has a page dedicated to all you need to know about Lollapalooza - which is pretty helpful in our opinion.

And finally, if you're not going and looking to do something else - Timeout Chicago offers 15 alternatives.  If you're a reader of Sloopin, you probably know all of these...but regardless it's a good reminder.

Have a great Lolla weekend and hopefully it doesn't rain and destroy Grant Park...don't hold your breath on this one.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Former Bear Leads Group of Investors on Purchase of Large, Historic Motor Row Property

Looks like Motor Row is getting some new owners who are betting on a revitalized area (via Crains):
Former Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije has a new target to tackle: a vintage Motor Row building on the Near South Side.

Betting on the emergence of a new entertainment district near McCormick Place, Idonije and a group of investors that includes another former Bears pass rusher, Julius Peppers, have agreed to buy the vacant Hudson Motor building one block west of the convention center for an undisclosed price.

Idonije's group has likely agreed to pay more than the $5.8 million the 1920s-era building sold for in January, when an affiliate of real estate investment firm Echelon Capital bought it as its previous owner was facing foreclosure.

Idonije, who spent most of his 11-year NFL career with the Bears, was tight-lipped on his plans for the 115,000-square-foot former auto showroom at 2222 S. Michigan Ave. but said he envisions "a number of uses for the property" designed for what he expects will become one of the city's trendiest areas.
It's been slow moving down in the Motor Row area, but it does seem like they're getting close to a tipping point.  Anyone have any guesses on if/when the area will turn the corner and truly become the "entertainment district" the city and many other envision?

We've posted about the new Wintrust Arena and some of their recent good news.  Additionally, we just read that DePaul will be hosting Michigan State (a high-profile Men's Basketball team) on Thanksgiving as part of a holiday tournament.  If they continue to draw these types of teams/tournaments it bodes well for the area (via Tribune):
The DePaul men’s basketball team has been invited to participate in the PK80 Invitational tournament, which honors Nike co-founder Phil Knight for his 80th birthday.  
The Blue Demons replace Georgetown in the event and will face Michigan State on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) in the “Victory” bracket of the tournament. Two eight-team brackets will crown two champions at the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

76-Story One Grant Park Gets Final Permit to Build Vertical

And it looks like One Grant Park is about to get tall (via Curbed):
A skyline-changing South Loop skyscraper has scored a third and final building permit and is clear to rise to its height of 76 occupied stories. Known as One Grant Park, the under-construction tower is perched at the southern edge of its namesake park and is the first of two eye-catching buildings in development from Miami Beach-based Crescent Heights and New York’s Rafael Viñoly Architects. A taller, similarly designed sister tower is planned to the immediate west of the fast-climbing OGP.
Very curious to see how quickly this climbs.  This is a game changer for the Sloop and it sounds like it's planning to open in 2019.