Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Latest Drama in the River City Deconversion Saga

More info on the River City Deconversion attempts (via The Real Deal):
The River City condo association lobbed the latest legal volley in the drama-filled deconversion of the South Loop building, accusing owners of multiple units of failing to comply with the sale process.

The association filed suits against at least 19 unit owners in the building, accusing them of failing to turn over documents needed to close on the sale. The unit owners’ reluctance to comply puts the deal in jeopardy as a Nov. 28 closing date looms, according to the lawsuits.

It is the latest legal controversy surrounding a deal that at one point was poised to be the biggest deconversion in city history.

For more on the back and forth here is a post from a couple weeks back.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Eater Chicago Highlights the New VU Rooftop Bar on the 22nd Floor at 133 E. Cermak

Just yesterday we posted about a new "experiential theater" coming to the Motor Row Entertainment District.  Today, another post that illustrates the effort to make this area come to life.

A South Side rarity — a rooftop bar — debuts Monday near McCormick Place in the South Loop. VU Rooftop Bar is a sleek 13,000-square-foot space on the 22nd floor of the building at 133 E. Cermak Road. Convention goers, Bears fans coming and leaving nearby Soldier Field, and locals have a new spot for skyline views, small plates, and fancy cocktails.
The outdoor deck features TVs, fire pits, and the kind of comfy lounge seating that hearty Chicagoans will use throughout the winter. There’s a solarium with retractable glass walls for the colder days, and customers who want to belt out a tune can visit its private karaoke room. There are other rooms for private parties or meetings, too.
We've only linked to a couple of the pictures, but we highly suggest clicking here to check at the rest.  The space is beautiful.

It's great for the southern part of the neighborhood to have a spot like this, but we will be curious to see if they have consistent traffic for the large space.  Yes, it will be great for events, but will there be enough traffic to make this place viable on a regular day?  We will see.

Monday, October 15, 2018

"Experiential Theatre" Southern Gothic Coming to Motor Row Entertainment District

Looks like the Motor Row entertainment district is finally getting some entertainment (via Performink):
PerformInk has learned that Windy City Playhouse has all-but locked in a move of its hit immersive production of SOUTHERN GOTHIC to the South Loop for an open-ended run after multiple extensions on Irving Park road conclude this fall.

The theater plans to close the show as scheduled December 9 and move it to a 100-year-old exposed brick and beam warehouse building on Michigan Avenue south of Cermak (near McCormick Place). The re-opening is slated for just after the new year.

The run will be open-ended (meaning there it will continue to play as long as it is financially viable), but there’s no word yet on whether there will be any change in its scale. Currently, performances are limited to 28 audience members per night. In fact, a press representative for the theater declined to comment, likely because some of the details are still being ironed out. 

Transfers of hit productions can be quite complicated, and that’s compounded here by the task of opening a new venue. The City of Chicago’s licensing process can take time, especially if everything isn’t perfectly in order upon the first round of inspections.

At SOUTHERN GOTHIC, audience members are part of a cocktail party in 1960s Ashford, Georgia — complete with drinks and bites — where four couples come together to celebrate a 40th birthday.

(Hat Tip:   NK!)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pondering the Future of Mattress Firm at State/Roosevelt

Shopping for a mattress always seemed like a strange experience to us.  Additionally, it often seems that mattress stores rarely have an abundance of shoppers inside.  Couple those points with the ease and emerging popularity of online mattress shopping and it's easy why Mattress Firm has filed for Bankruptcy (via Chicago Tribune):
Even Mattress Firm now acknowledges that a particular street on Chicago’s North Side has more than enough spots to buy a mattress.

The Houston-based retailer, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week, plans to close 209 stores nationwide by the end of the month, including 29 of its 211 locations in Illinois. Two of the stores on the closure list are on neighboring blocks of North Clybourn Avenue near Cortland Street, according to bankruptcy court records. The company has two other stores still in operation on Clybourn between Cortland and Wrightwood Avenue.

Eventually, Mattress Firm plans to close as many as 700 of its roughly 3,400 stores, focusing on those in areas where it has too many locations that are too close together, CEO Steve Stanger said Friday in a statement on the company website.

So why are we writing about this?  We've always been fascinated as to the location of a Mattress Firm at the corner of State and Roosevelt (see picture above).  This was a dry cleaner then converted into a Bedding Experts which was later bought out by Mattress Firm.  This location rarely seems busy and in our opinion would be much better served as a restaurant/coffee type of business (although loitering seems to be a problem here and at the Starbucks).

While this location won't be closed initially, maybe it will be in future closings as part of this bankruptcy restructuring?  One can hope...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bank of America ATM Retail Space Coming to 1250 South Michigan

Looks like a doomed retail space 1250 S. Michigan is getting a relatively straightforward tenant:

In case you can't read that it says:
Interior and Exterior Altercation to Existing Space For New Interior ATM Rooms Per Existing Plans.
As you may recall this retail space has had a hard time holding a consistent tenant.  La Haven coffee shop was the most recent tenant but they closed in 2016.  Before that it was Winestyles (closed in 2010), Karamela Cafe (closed in 2013), Crave Cafe and Lounge (closed in 2014).

An ATM room ain't sexy, but something tells us it will last longer than some of the others listed above.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Kome Japanese Eatery Apparently Closed

We recently were driving by the restaurant Kome Japanese Eatery (1303 S. Michigan) and noticed that all the lights were out during a prime weekend evening.  Obviously that was not a good sign.

It seems safe to say that the restaurant is closed.  A sign in the window says:
We are closed temporarily.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

We've never been to Kome, but according to Yelp people seemed to like it (4.5 stars).  As a reminder this restaurant opened about a year ago in November 2017.  

Does anyone have any knowledge if they're going to reopen?  or maybe reconcept?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Fate of Pizza Museum at Roosevelt Collection Unknown

Head on over to the Pizza Museum at Roosevelt Collection soon or you may miss it (via Eater Chicago):
The U.S. Pizza Museum was packed with guests in August in the South Loop as the Internet raged if Chicago was America’s true capital of pizza. The museum was meant to last through October with the option of extending its stay. The museum’s founder on Tuesday said the future of the museum is up in the air as they haven’t decided if the exhibition will last beyond the rest of the month.

Museum founder Kendall Bruns said the situation isn’t dire, but improved attendance would help as they’re discussing the museum’s future with the space’s management. The museum is a way to bring in people to the Roosevelt Collection, a residential development with a movie theater and retail stores. Admission to the museum, a space filled with nostalgic pizza-related items from limited-edition pizza boxes, to pizzeria menus, to toys, is free. The museum makes money from gift shop sales. However, guests need to reserve tickets prior to their visit.

August quickly sold out and that received lots of media attention. But when September rolled in, fewer people showed up. People just didn’t know that tickets were available. They think all tickets have been sold out since August.

As a reminder the Pizza Museum opened to some fanfare back in August

Thursday, October 4, 2018

River City Owners Sue to Block Potential Sale of Building

The saga continues at River City on the proposed sale of the building (via Cook County Record):
In the wake of a vote to approve a sale that would reportedly pave the way for the largest condos-to-apartments conversion in Chicago to date, a group of condominium owners in the River City complex have filed suit to block the more than $90 million sale, accusing the condo association board of working with the would-be buyers to essentially target and bribe certain unit owners to persuade them with secret “side deals” to vote to approve the sale.

The collection of condo owners, including owners on both sides of the vote to sell the South Loop condo complex to developer Marc Realty, filed their complaint in Cook County Circuit Court on Oct. 3 through attorneys with the firm of Chuhak & Tecson, of Chicago.

“By conspiring with Marc Realty to target only those owners who had already voted against the sale at the price Marc Realty wanted to offer, the (River City Condominium Association) Board helped Marc Realty pay far less than they had agreed to pay under the original (Purchase and Sale Agreement), instead electing to award the benefit to a minority of owners who could be bribed into switching their votes,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint.

If you're interested in the back and forth of this one we've posted about this story for almost the past three years dating back to January 2016...damn.

(Hat tip: PO!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Shooting Inside Car In Front of Congress Hotel Leaves Two Dead

Another scary scene late last night on Michigan Avenue in front of Congress Hotel (via ABC7):
Four people were shot, two fatally, after a shooting inside a car that crashed in front of the Congress Plaza Hotel in the South Loop.
Five people were inside the car as the driver was going south on Michigan Avenue at about midnight Monday morning when someone inside started shooting, police said.

The driver hit a light pole and a planter box in front of the Congress Plaza, in the 500 block of South Michigan Avenue and then flipped on its roof.

Seems like this wasn't a random incident, but still scary.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dearborn Bike Lane Gets Upgrade with Protective Barriers

In case you haven't been to Dearborn in awhile, the popular bike lane is getting an upgrade (via Streetsblog):
One of Chicago’s first and most popular protected bike lanes is getting another upgrade.
The Chicago Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it has launched construction of concrete curb protection on the Dearborn two-way protected bike lane, along its entire length from Polk to Kinzie. The lane sees about 800 bike trips during the evening rush, according to the city.
I use this bikelane all the time and this improvement is warranted and great.  The lane is always busy during the workweek and often times motorists have abused the fact that it's relatively exposed.  Hopefully this will help.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Acadia Receives Two Michelin Stars for Fourth Straight Year

Maybe not super surprising, but certainly worth acknowledgement (via Chicago Tribune):
Alinea, as it has every year since 2011 (the first year Michelin published a Chicago Guide), again holds the ultimate honor of three Michelin stars. (Grace, which closed in December, had received three stars in four consecutive years.)
Acadia, in the South Loop, received a two-star designation for the fourth straight year. Joining Acadia at the two-star level are Oriole (for the third time) and Smyth (for the second).
Huge honor for Acadia.  Being one of four restaurants to earn two or more stars puts them in the upper echelon of fine dinning in Chicago.

Kudos to the team.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Amazon Reportedly Visited Proposed HQ2 Lot in the South Loop in Mid-August

Some interesting news on the Amazon front for our neighborhood (via Chicago Tribune):
Amazon was back in Chicago last month to take another look at a South Loop site along the river, as the e-commerce giant narrows its search for a planned second headquarters with up to 50,000 jobs.
In mid-August, members of Amazon’s HQ2 site selection team made the return visit to Related Midwest’s 62-acre planned development, called The 78, according to sources familiar with the visit. It’s the second known visit to the site by Amazon’s real estate team, which previously toured it and four other locations during a March visit to Chicago.

It’s unclear whether Amazon has made return visits to other sites in Chicago or other cities as the Seattle-based company considers 20 locations for the huge campus it is calling HQ2. Amazon has said it will pick a winner by the end of 2018.

We've long suspected that this site was at the top of the list if (and that's still a big if) Chicago is chosen for Amazon's HQ2.

Chicago is a bit of a sleeper pick when it comes to the national prognosticators.  The Washington DC metro area is considered by most the front-runner, while cities like Austin and Boston are also repeatedly considered towards the top. 

As stated in the above blurb, Amazon is intending to pick the winner by the end of the year.  Q4 is just around the corner so maybe Chicago's corporate community will get an early holiday present.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Scary and Grisly Scene at Roosevelt CTA Green Line Stop

A scary and grisly scene yesterday (via ChicagoTribune):
A man was found unresponsive and bleeding from the head at the Roosevelt Green Line station in the South Loop on Monday morning, Chicago police said.

The man, 58, was discovered on the platform at 22 E. Roosevelt Road around 6:15 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead at 6:45 a.m.

Officials did not say how the man was injured.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Look at ShopColumbia - Columbia Colleges Storefront to Help Teach Art Entrepreneurship

If you've walked throughout the neighborhood it's impossible to miss Columbia Colleges footprint.  Whether it's initiatives like the Wabash Arts Corridor or interesting buildings like the Columbia Media Production Center  (16th and Wabash) that was designed by high-power architect Jeanne Gang - the institution continues to bring an interesting dynamic to the neighborhood.

We recently read an article from the Chicago Tribune that talks about how the College is teaching entrepreneurship to their art students:
When it opened in October 2008, ShopColumbia was little more than a bold idea, a space designed to promote the artwork of Columbia College students while teaching them the value of entrepreneurship outside the classroom.
Almost 10 years later, the work of more than 150 artists — jewelry, paintings, T-shirts, stickers and more — is available for sale either online or at the gallery and store, which has sold more than $350,000 of work for student and alumni and sees 50 to 80 visitors each day. As students return to campus, ShopColumbia is gearing up for its busiest season.

When it opened in October 2008, ShopColumbia was little more than a bold idea, a space designed to promote the artwork of Columbia College students while teaching them the value of entrepreneurship outside the classroom.

Almost 10 years later, the work of more than 150 artists — jewelry, paintings, T-shirts, stickers and more — is available for sale either online or at the gallery and store, which has sold more than $350,000 of work for student and alumni and sees 50 to 80 visitors each day. As students return to campus, ShopColumbia is gearing up for its busiest season.

We've never been, but it is certainly one of those things we've noticed on Wabash and after reading this have more of an interest in checking it out. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Oh Great...A Tacky "Billboard" on Ida B. Wells Drive (aka Congress PKWY)

Looks like the neighborhood has a prominent new "billboard":

This building sat vacant for awhile, but recently USA Vein Clinics opened up shop here.  Now apparently they're trying to take their monetization scheme to the next level by turning the upper two floors into a giant billboard.

Not sure if this is a permanent thing, but certainly is tacky looking in our opinion.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Masked Gunman Opens Fire at Car on Cermak/State Intersection

Disgusting and scary stuff (via Chicago Tribune):
After a chase that lasted less than two miles, a gunman in a ski mask walked up to a car and opened fire in the South Loop Wednesday night, seriously wounding a 6-month-old baby and a 13-year-old girl and also hitting two adults, according to Chicago police.

Another child in the car, a 15-year-old girl, escaped unharmed.
Police said there was "some type of interaction" between the car and the gunman's blue van or SUV that led to the chase and the shooting around 9:10 p.m. near Cermak Road and State Street.

"We do not believe this was a random act," said Chicago police Deputy Chief Kevin Ryan.
I guess the fact that it wasn't a random act is supposed to make the neighborhood feel a little comfort...although I'm not sure that's how I feel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Police Issue Warning On Rash of Armed Robberies

Be mindful (via SunTimes):
Chicago police are warning residents about a series of recent robberies this weekend in the South Loop and Hyde Park neighborhoods.

Since Friday, a group of men driving a gray car have confronted people on sidewalks and demanded property, police said. One robber flashed a black semi-automatic handgun and the others battered victims.

The six robberies happened:

  • about 10:20 p.m. Sept. 14 in the 2300 block of South Wabash
  • about 3:14 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 5400 block of South Hyde Park
  • about 5:07 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 0 to 100 block of East 21st Street
  • about 5:18 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 2400 block of South Indiana
  • about 7:11 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 0 to 100 block of East 21st Street
  • about 7:09 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 2300 block of South Wabash

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bears Kickoff Home 2018 Season Tonight on Monday Night Football

As a reminder, it's the first Bears home game of the season tonight (they're on Monday Night Football).  The game starts at 7:15pm, so be prepared for a painful commute home - especially if you drive.

Despite some of the inconveniences of living by Soldier Field, we're pretty pumped for tonights game (and this season).  While the opening loss at Lambeau Field to the Packers last week was a punch in the gut, the Bears showed signs about the potential this team has.

Heres to hoping we have some meaningful games with playoff ramifications in the Sloop this season.  Bear Down!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Cool Old Factory Converted to a Single Family Home

If you're a fan of seeing how other people decorate and design their houses, we highly suggest a look at this fun post on Curbed Chicago.  It's been on the interwebs for awhile, but showcases how a family took an old building in the Sloop and converted it into a beautiful home:
Almost immediately after Sarah and Jeff Klymson bought a small loft in Chicago’s South Loop in 2007, they began making plans to fulfill their grander vision of home.

Jeff, founding principal of architecture and design practice Collective Office, and Sarah, an architect and interior designer who works in the hospitality industry, dreamt of finding a freestanding building with a little outdoor space, something they could design themselves, grow into and that could serve as a base for Jeff’s firm. Though it was a tall order for the South Loop, it wasn’t impossible.

The two years the couple had planned on staying in the loft ballooned to seven, punctuated by regular hunts for available buildings in the neighborhood. Jeff says he would, on Sunday afternoons, open a real estate app and click on every listing around their then-home. Then, in the fall of 2014, seemingly out of nowhere, he happened upon a former factory, circa 1889, just three blocks away.
Nice work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

1st Annual Printer's Row Art Fest Comes to Dearborn this Weekend

We've had a couple readers email us about this and upon more research it appears that this in fact is a thing and is happening this weekend:

It also appears that there are a good amount of artists signed-up, so looking forward to checking this one out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What's Going On With the Building Restoration at 21st and Calumet?

A reader writes:
Do you all happen to know anything about this building restoration? It’s the building on 21st and Calumet.
While we're not 100% sure, the last we heard on the subject was something we read in the Chicago Tribune awhile back:
A collaboration between the city, DePaul University and McPier aims to redevelop the historic Motor Row district into an entertainment destination. The project has been approved and will include a new 10,000-seat basketball arena for DePaul, the 1,200-room Marriott Marquis hotel at Cermak and Prairie Avenue, the rehabilitation of the American Book Co. building into meeting rooms and retail, and an additional data center.
We also found this article from the Chicago Architecture website that seems to corroborate this.

This area has seen a lot of activity recently and we're curious to see how it continues to grow.  Does anyone know if this is indeed the plan or if the plan has shifted?

(Hat tip:  JB!)

Friday, September 7, 2018

4th Times the Charm for River City Conversion to Apartments?

Is this saga over (via
The fourth time appears to be the charm for efforts to convert River City condominiums to apartments.
Owners at the South Loop complex have voted to accept a $90.5 million offer for their 448 units.

That's less than three bids developer Marc Realty Capital made since early 2016 before the deals stalled or fell apart—but slightly richer than the pending offer of $89 million.

"I've got partners in this deal, so I can't comment," Marc Realty Capital principal David Ruttenberg said.

After an $81.4 million opening bid, a $92 million offer in early 2017 didn't get the minimum 75 percent vote from ownership required under Illinois condominium law; a revised $100 million offer was terminated in May by Marc Realty and financial partner Wolcott Group, which cited "significant deferred maintenance issues."

In the latest vote, 77.9 percent sided with accepting the offer, according to Kelly Elmore, an attorney for the condo association. She says the $90.5 million buyout proposal will be sweetened by $1 million if every last owner provides closing documents by the expected closing date, in about 90 days.

You would think this is the final nail in the coffin, but given the swirl on this deal who knows.

It seems interesting that Marc Realty had this much interest in the River City property.  Maybe it's the impending Wells/Wentworth connector and the new businesses coming to the old post office that they're hoping to cash in on.  There will be a lot more pedestrian traffic and activity in this area shortly.

(Hat tip: PB!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wow! No 3rd Term for Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Just like that, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has decided to not seek a third term.  It's a pretty surprising development that has apparently caught many off guard (via Chicago Tribune):
In a stunning decision, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday morning that he will no longer seek a third term in office, signaling the end to what has been a tumultuous – and at times transformative – eight years in office.
While Rahm certainly could have handled a variety of issues better (we all could!) we viewed the Mayor in a positive light and have a hard time imagining someone else having the ability to "sell" the city as well as he did.  He was a champion of a vibrant downtown core and as far as we could tell a friend of the South Loop.  Back in 2015 we even found out he was a big fan of the architecture in Printers Row.

The impact of the surprising news won't truly be known for awhile.  One major question is the impact on the city's bid for Amazon's HQ2 - which if successful could mean massive development for one of the South Loop's most prominent vacant lots owned by Related Midwest.  Crain's and the Chicago Tribune both had articles that immediately discussed the potential ramifications.  Here is a pertinent blurb from the Tribune's article:
Dennis Donovan, principal at site selection consultant Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting, said Emanuel is known for being an aggressive pitchman. “I don’t know anybody who could do it better,” he said. “He made it known Chicago was open for business.”
Donovan doubted Emanuel’s announcement would give a company like Amazon cold feet. Companies planning major projects like HQ2 are concerned about bigger-picture issues, like whether the city has enough talented workers to fill their ranks. “You can deal with a mayor that’s anti-business. You cannot deal with a subperforming labor market,” he said.

A city’s political leadership is only one factor a company like Amazon would consider in deciding where to build a major project like HQ2, said John H. Boyd, principal of The Boyd Co., a Princeton, N.J.-based corporate site selection consultancy. “Executives are very sophisticated. They understand politics is fluid and there’s no such thing as a mayor for life,” he said.

But having a high-profile “salesman-in-chief” like Emanuel can be very powerful when a city is in the process of courting a major project like HQ2, Boyd said.
So maybe the impact isn't a make or break, but at best it won't hurt Chicago.  In our opinion it certainly isn't helping.

Regardless, should be an interesting election and we are curious to see who will emerge as the next leader of our great city.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Condo Building at 1802 S. State Secures Loan

Looks like a (smaller) condo development is getting underway now that their loan is secured (via Real Deal):
Journey’s End Development has secured a construction loan for its planned 39-unit condominium building in the South Loop, a project that was allowed to begin earlier this summer.

Heartland Bank and Trust provided the $18 million loan for the four-story masonry property set to rise at 1802 South State Street, according to Cook County property records.

Colorado-based Journey’s End, whose portfolio also includes higher-end residential developments, is advertising one- to three-bedroom units for its lone Chicago property. Ten of the condos are already under contract, and the remaining 29 are listed between $390,000 and $545,000.

We first heard about this back in February of 2017.  We recently drove by this location and the building that was there was gone and seems like they're ready to roll.

Friday, August 31, 2018

How to Eat Cheaper at Two of the Sloop's Finest Restaurants

Eater Chicago explains how to eat cheaper at Chicago's finest restaurants and highlights two Sloop locations.

First up is obviously Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) - and if you're a reader of this here blog you probably already know this one:
In place of two-Michelin starred Acadia’s $155 eight-course new American tasting menu, hit up the bar for several similar plates at a lower price, a la carte. For example, Aleutian Islands King Crab with yuzu, parsley root, and a mint-nasturtium water becomes Peekytoe crab toast with scallion, garlic, butter, and arugula at the bar. Meanwhile, there’s also Stonington lobster with pickled mustard seed, celery, and caviar, which, at the bar becomes the Stonington, ME lobster roll.

Second is a good hack we weren't aware of at Everest (425 S. Financial Place):
While sky-high French boƮte Everest serves a $165 tasting menu, the hack is to come Tuesday to Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays between 5 and 5:30 p.m. for the three-course pre-theatre $59 special. That menu changes daily, and if diners drove, complimentary valet parking is also included.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Proposed South Loop Innovation Center - Discovery Partners Institute - Gets More Attention, But Details Still Lacking

As you know there has been a lot of attention given to Related's 62-acre vacant land just south of Roosevelt.  Whether it's discussion about a site for Amazon's HQ2 or audacious plans to build the city's "78th neighborhood" it's fodder for ripe discussion on the interwebs.

With that said, one of the other major undertakings being discussed for this land is the Discovery Partners Institute - which is billed as an innovation center in partnership with various major public and private institutions.  The hope is to accelerate Illinois and Chicago's place in the technology.

While the plans sound good, much of the detail is still TBD.  Over the past couple weeks, this topic has been in the news with the naming of a leader (via Herald):
The University of Illinois has picked one of its own professors to head an effort to build and operate a major innovation center in Chicago's South Loop.

William H. Sanders has led the engineering department at the university's Urbana-Champaign campus since 2014 and will oversee what's called the Discovery Partner's Institute. The Chicago Tribune reports those duties will include leading construction of the center, supervise all faculty and staff hiring and oversee all new corporate and academic partnerships.

Once it is operating, the center is expected to employ more than 100 faculty members who will specialize in research on computing and big data, environment and water, food and agriculture and health and wellness. School officials say the center will accommodate more than 2,000 students a year.

Additionally Crain's provides some info on lawmakers attempts to get more info:
The fog around Gov. Bruce Rauner’s planned South Loop tech hub led by University of Illinois lifted a little during a state Senate hearing yesterday, but there are plenty of details that still aren’t visible. Even some pieces that seem to be in place could disappear.
The $500 million for the Discovery Partners Institute that was part of the latest state budget appears real, if not yet complete. It has changed the trajectory of the project, said U of I President Tim Killeen, increasing interest from potential corporate partners, private donors and faculty. He said DPI has verbal commitments of more than $100 million in private funding, but he didn't provide details.

The majority of the state funding will be used for construction or renovation of facilities in Chicago and on various U of I campuses, university officials said. The most visible is likely to be the new facility that U of I hopes to build on a 62-acre development south of Roosevelt Road between Clark Street and the Chicago River that’s been proposed by Related Midwest.

Some of money also will be used to build or renovate facilities on other campuses, including Urbana-Champaign, UIC and Springfield, that are part of a virtual innovation network. But only about $150 million of the funding, which comes from Build Illinois bonds sold by the state, is in the bank. More money will come from a bond offering that could happen in October and future issues.

One thing is clear from the hearing: There is both considerable interest and concern about the project outside Chicago. Killeen and other U of I officials sought to reassure Sens. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, and Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, that DPI isn’t a raid on the Urbana-Champaign campus, which also is expected to see some new funding from the $500 million appropriation for DPI.

This is one of those things that feels abstract and should be viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism.  In some respect, we wonder how closely this is or isn't tied to the Amazon HQ2 pitch.  One of the major critieria for Amazon was access to quality talent.  By potentially opening up this institute next door to HQ2 on paper could seem enticing.  While we're unsure if Amazon is the linchpin for Discovery Partners Institute (or could it be the reverse?) - the timing of the announcements have our eyebrows raised.

We shall see...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Villains Closing Their Doors on September 8th

Looks like one of our faves is closing (via Eater):
After three years, the second iteration of Villains will soon be no more in the South Loop. Management announced that the craft beer pub is closing on September 8 at 730 S. Clark Street. The restaurant reinvented itself at a new location after closing in 2012, going from burgers to more of a gastropub.
The announcement thanks customers and urges visitors to come by for a burger and beer.

Definitely bummed about this one!  We've had some good eats at Villains and some fun as well.

Best of luck to everyone involved and you will be missed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The 50th Anniversary of "The Battle of Michigan Avenue" in the Sloop

General Logan Statue in Grant Park 
Today marks the 50th anniversary of "The Battle of Michigan Avenue" during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  For some of us who weren't around back then, it's hard to understand all the dynamics at play, but seeing these pictures and videos from around the Sloop helps a little bit.

It's hard to imagine a scene like this in our neighborhood.  This video from CBS Sunday Morning provides a good summary:

And here is blurb from the AP back then (via Washington Post):
Some 3,000 anti-war demonstrators fought a bloody, open battle with an equal contingent of police and Illinois National Guardsmen Wednesday night in an assault on the downtown headquarters of the Democratic National Convention.
There were mass arrests and some 300 injuries as police clubbed at the demonstrators, who have massed in Chicago by the thousands to protest against administration war policies.

Rocks and bottles were thrown, car windows broken, trash cans overturned and set afire, and heads were beaten in a five-block stretch along fashionable South Michigan Avenue, main street of Chicago’s showcase front yard.

Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was in his 25th-floor suite of the Conrad Hilton, which fronts on Michigan Avenue, awaiting an appearance before the convention at the International Amphitheatre, five miles south. A Humphrey aide said tear gas could be smelled in his room as police battled demonstrators in the hotel ground floor lobby.
Was anyone around the Sloop during this time?  Any feelings/thoughts you can provide?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Construction Begins for Roosevelt Collection Apartment High-rise?

A reader writes:
Wanted to share some photos of activity going on at the northeastern parcel of the Roosevelt Collection. Originally set aside for a hotel, I spoke with construction works who advised work was being done for an apartment tower.

As you may recall, we had a post back in the beginning of 2017 talking about plans to move forward with the tower.  However, since then we haven't heard much until this email.

If you're curious what this was supposed to look like or where it was going to be in relationship to the existing building, the rendering below should help:

(Hat tip:  BW!)

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Renderings and Information for Pair of CMK Developed Rental Apartments at 14th and Wabash

Some more information on another rental building that seems to progressing pretty quickly at 14th and Wabash (via Curbed):
The South Loop’s rental frenzy is showing no signs of slowing down as work continues on a pair of 15- and 10-story apartment buildings at the corner of Wabash Avenue and 14th Street. The taller structure, at 45-59 E. 14th Street, will offer 199 units while its shorter companion, at 1419 S. Wabash Avenue, will bring 62 units to the rapidly changing downtown neighborhood.
While foundation and demolition work began this spring, a full construction permit for the taller building was awarded earlier this week. Designed by Chicago architecture firm Pappageorge Haymes Partners, both structures will feature ground-floor retail space, indoor and outdoor amenities for residents, and a combined 95 parking spaces.

This is another development from CMK.  They've been one of - if not the most - prominent developer in the neighborhood.

Some people like their sleek buildings.  Some feel as if they will be frowned upon in a decade or two (we've heard the comparison to the Carl Sandburg Village in Old Town and how those buildings feel dated). 

Regardless, this will bring more density and likely more patrons to Wabash and Michigan which should be good for the businesses in those areas (and the area in more broader terms).

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

400 Chicago Kids From 20 Neighborhoods Shutting Down Balbo Dr. For Basketball Game

We don't usually take the bait for random press releases, but this one came across our inbox and sounded interesting:
On Thursday, over 400 Chicago kids and teens from 20 different Chicago neighborhoods are coming together to shut down a major Downtown intersection for a cross-city basketball tournament.
The event is part of LISC's (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) "Hoops in the Hood" program, a sports-based community safety initiative that turns "hot spots" for violence into safe spaces for youth to interact and build positive relationships with peers and caring adults, while making visible use of public spaces and fostering a sense of community. Each year, approximately 5,000 Chicago kids and teens take part in the program, all at no cost to them.

Off the courts, the players may be rivals — but on the court, they’re teammates.

Benjamin “Benny” Estrada, director of sports-based programs at the New Life Centers of Chicagoland in Little Village, said he’s got about 140 kids and teens between 8 and 19 who participate in his chapter of the program, locally known as “B-Ball on the Block.”

A reformed gang member himself, Estrada knows firsthand the transformative power of community engagement, especially through sports, for kids and adults alike.

“To get young people around positive peers, that’s huge,” he said. “For myself, I hung around a lot of negative peers when I was younger. Once I found that love to play basketball, I wanted to be around those friends because we loved the same thing. It helped me pull myself away from the negative things I was doing.”

The event kicks-off at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, Balbo Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Printers Row Chase Closing at the End of October?

A reader writes:
Got a notice in the mail that the Chase branch at the corner of Dearborn and Harrison is closing at the end of October. No word on whether or not the ATM's will remain in the neighborhood. Its in a prime corner retail space, so hopefully something good will take it's place.
Interesting to hear they're closing.  Wonder if they will be opening a new location to serve the neighborhood (although there is a Chase at 9th and Wabash).

(Hat tip: KK!)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Quench Wellness Opens at 1319 S. Michigan

We were recently driving down Michigan Avenue and noticed a new business that seemingly popped up at 1319 S. Michigan:

So what is Quench?  According to their website:
At the intersection of mind, body, and soul is where we live the best versions of ourselves. Quench Wellness aims to provide a wellness experience to our clients that meets them at this exact point of their health needs. Quench Wellness empowers our clients by replenishing vital nutrients and providing restorative hydration therapies to enhance their wellness journey.

Founded by two board certified physicians with a passion for health education and advocacy, Quench Wellness strives to offer a variety of services, products and education that cater to your unique health needs. We offer every client a safe & medically-sound wellness experience steeped in peace and comfort.
Some of their services offered on the website are IV vitamin infusions, IM vitamin shots, hormone optimization therapy and vaginal rejuvenation.

Welcome to the Sloop!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Curbed Chicago Looks at the Recently Opened Eleven40 Apartment Building

nice view from rooftop at Eleven40
Curbed Chicago looks at the recently opened Eleven40 apartment building at 1140 S. Wabash:
Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood added another 320 apartments on Monday with the grand opening of the Eleven40 rental tower. Named for its approximate address of 1140 S. Wabash Avenue, the glassy 26-story project has been under construction since early 2017 and replaces a former parking lot near the Roosevelt CTA station.

Unlike many other recent South Loop developments hoping to lure luxury buyers with views of Grant Park and the lake, Eleven40 offers a more attainable option with studios priced from $1,500 per month. Starting at 389 square feet, these units are certainly cozy but do offer a degree of flexibility should renters opt for the built-in Murphy bed. Half of the building’s apartments are studios with the remainder split between 80 one-bedroom and 80 two-bedroom layouts.
What caught our attention is the built-in Murphy bed option.  That doesn't seem like a great option to us...but guess it could save you some space when you're not sleeping?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hebru Brantley Hosts Event at workVAULT (1420 S. Michigan)

We're big fans of Hebru Brantley and were bummed when his flyboy mural was covered up by the new apartment building Eleven40 - but enough about that. 

Mr. Brantley apparently held a pop-up show at the workVAULT according to this video from his instagram account.  Cool event and also a chance to see how the inside of the co-working/event space at 1420 S. Michigan 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Showroom Food Hall at Marriott Marquis Has a Neighbor Intrigued

A reader writes:
I walked by yesterday, north side of the Marriott on 21st east of Prairie, right across the street from the nice kids/dog park and there was a place called Showroom Food Hall (link here).

Looks like a pretty cool space with several different stands or stations within the cafeteria style space. There were what I assumed to be future staff meeting and prepping for opening. The pizza oven was going in the back. Looks like they'll be opening soon.

Should be a nice blend between the obvious hotel guest / conference traffic and the neighborhood, especially with the park across the street. Easy picnic opportunity.

(Hat tip:  AVS!)