Friday, December 14, 2018

Fatpour at Cermak/Indiana Opens its Doors!

Looks like Fatpour  on the corner of Indiana and Cermak is ready to open:

As a reminder, we first posted about this in February of this year.  Since then there has been some considerable momentum for this up and coming area of the neighborhood.

(Hat tip: EH!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Neighborhood Infrastructure Updates: Canadian National Railway Repairs & Traffic Light at 21st/Indiana


Looks like the railroad line that runs just north of 16th street is getting some much needed repairs (via Gazette):
The Canadian National Railway (CN) will complete preliminary utility work and then, in early 2019, will start reconstructing overpasses at Michigan and Wabash Avenues as well as State, Dearborn, and Clark Streets.

While some may be disappointed that the line isn't closing down, there are some benefits to this work.  Alderman Dowell weighs in:
Dowell said she held two community meetings about the project, and noted the railroad has been open to community concerns.
“I was surprised to learn that the rail line was over 100 years old,” Dowell said. “The investment needs to happen. There will be improvements in the lighting underneath the bridges, and the neighborhood will be more friendly to traffic as well as to pedestrians.”

Dowell said that changing the look and feel of the trains as well as the bridges will make the growing South Loop neighborhoods more appealing. In addition to the bridges, she said the railroad will reduce train noise and vibration in densely populated areas by moving an idling station further from residential buildings.

The Gazette article also points to a new a stop light going in at the intersection of 21st and Indiana given the influx of activity around Wintrust Arena.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Nike Force Store Pops-Up at 9th and Wabash

If you're a sneakerhead you may already know this, but it appears a Nike Force pop-up store is up and running at 9th and Wabash.  This picture was snapped this past Saturday and there was a line around the corner (which is hard to see in this pic):

We couldn't find much online.  Does anyone have any info?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Some Crazy Beautiful Pics at the New NEMA Rental Building


Some beautiful new shots from the NEMA rental building rising high above our city at Roosevelt and Indian (via Curbed):
After quietly breaking ground nearly two years ago, the 893-foot apartment tower known as NEMA Chicago has grown to dominate downtown’s southern skyline. The still-growing project has already claimed the title of the city’s tallest rental building as it continues its skyward climb along the southern edge of Grant Park. 
Although the Rafael Viñoly-designed project isn’t expected to open until next year, a handful of new images offer a first look inside the building’s 800 units and 70,000 square feet of amenity space.

The renderings include shots of an outdoor terrace, an indoor resident lounge, a corner apartment unit, and NEMA’s south-facing pool that juts out slightly beyond the building’s facade.



Friday, December 7, 2018

CPS CEO Commits to Strengthening Existing High School Options Instead of New South Loop Neighborhood

More news on the future of a neighborhood high school (via SunTimes):
Chicago Public Schools will come up with another plan to give residents of the Near South Side quality high school options now that National Teachers Academy won’t be closed and converted into a high school, CEO Janice Jackson said Wednesday.

“I want to publicly state that we are committed to exploring ways to strengthen the existing high school options in the Near South community and we will be working collaboratively with the residents to do just that,” Jackson told the Chicago Board of Education. She did not offer any details.

The words existing high school is likely to rub many South Loop residents the wrong way.

The article goes onto say:
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Pat Dowell had championed the new school, promised to Chinatown residents, they noted how few families in the area considered Phillips High School a viable option for their children, though that’s their assigned neighborhood high school. Phillips, home to just about 750 students now, holds CPS’ second-lowest rating but has made improvements in the last few years.
Dunbar High School in Bronzeville enrolls just about 300 students in its career and technical programs open citywide. Its building at 3000 S. King Drive could hold several times that number of kids.
We will see.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Italian Restaurant - Il Culaccino - Plans Spring Opening in Motor Row Area

Some more good restaurant news for the Motor Row entertainment district (via Eater Chicago):
Diners near McCormick Place are getting yet another new food option, as the owners of Bridgeport favorite Franco’s Ristorante are working towards opening a fine dining Italian restaurant in the South Loop. Il Culaccino is a 225-seater pegged for a spring opening at 2138 S. Indiana Avenue, inside the 35-story Arrive Lex Tower apartment building. It’s more good news for convention goers and locals in a neighborhood with a limited number of restaurants.
Franco’s has served Italian food since 1986 in Bridgeport. It’s owned by the Ruffolo family and in 2016 they remodeled their then-27-year-old restaurant. They own three more restaurants: Franco’s at the Fountain in Millennium Park, Franconello Italian Restaurant in the Beverly, and Jam ‘n Honey in Lincoln Park/DePaul.
The area has seen a wave of new restaurants and shops coming to the area.  Succezz, Vu Rooftop Bar, Starbucks, Pizano's Pizza are some of the new places that are popping up in the area.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

COPA Investigating Incident with Police and Young Man at Roosevelt Stop

An incident from Thanksgiving weekend at the Roosevelt red line station (via SunTimes and The Grio):
A Chicago police officer caught on cellphone video repeatedly striking a teen with handcuffs is now being investigated by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
According to The Chicago Sun Times, during Thanksgiving weekend, officers tried to detain a teen boy as he peacefully waited for a train at a South Loop commuter train station, because they believed he matched the description of a robbery subject.

When the young man allegedly threatened the officers by clenching his fists and flailing his arms, that’s when they say they performed a “take down” on the suspect, who was later identified as 16-year old Skyler Miller.

Miller, who attends Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, was arrested but later released without being charged because the officers failed to get statements from the victims of the alleged robbery.

Here is the video if you're inclined to watch:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Judge Halts Plans to Convert National Teachers Academy into South Loop High School

Yesterday we posted about the impending ruling from a judge and here is the update (via SunTimes):
Hours after a Cook County judge on Monday granted a preliminary order to block Chicago Public Schools’ contentious conversion of the National Teachers Academy to a high school, schools officials backed down, saying they won’t appeal the ruling.
That means NTA will remain an elementary school and will not be converted into a new high school serving the rapidly growing South Loop — a school that was supposed to open this fall. NTA will keep its regional gifted center, and high school boundaries that changed to make room for the new high school that would also serve Chinatown and Bridgeport will change back to what they had been in the past.
Congrats to all the families, teachers and students who fought hard for this decision.

What remains up in the air is what the solution is for a South Loop neighborhood high school:
It’s not clear how CPS now will make sure those neighborhoods have “a high quality neighborhood high school,” which Passman said remained a “top priority,” or what will happen with the millions that had been allocated for the conversion championed by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
We'll see.

Monday, December 3, 2018

1407 S. Michigan is HOT HOT HOT!

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Best of all, there is abundant, gorgeous outdoor space that is not usually found in in-city living buildings. Incredible outdoor pool deck featuring grills, fire pits, cabanas and, of course, unsurpassed beautiful lake views. Garage parking is available for $275. Pets are welcome!

Chance the Rapper Pens Article on Plans to Close National Teachers Academy

Chance the Rapper pens article on plans to close National Teachers Academy (partial blurb from Tribune):
During the last school year, CPS decided to close NTA as an elementary school, so that its building can be used for a new high school. CPS made the decision despite NTA’s educational successes and despite unwavering objections from the NTA community.

Through its affordable after-school activities, community health clinic and senior recreation center, NTA has figured out that the key to providing a successful educational experience is collaboration with the community. NTA has become more than just a building — it’s a village. NTA parents, teachers and students are battling to keep this village.

Located at the former Harold Ickes public housing project, NTA’s students are 80 percent African-American, and 76 percent fall below the poverty line. Over the last five years, NTA has welcomed students from neighboring schools that have been shuttered. NTA is also a Level 1+ school, earning CPS’ highest school rating and outpacing 80 percent of students across the nation. The Illinois State Board of Education has called this accomplishment “commendable,” which is an understatement given the state’s history of inadequate public school funding, NTA’s past principal turnover and its initial school rating of 3 (which is CPS’ lowest school rating). This five-year turnaround is a testament to the teachers, parents and staff at NTA.

He finishes with a powerful statement:
It’s not too late for CPS to make the right decision and change course. This moment could set a precedent for future school closings and end the displacement in education that has plagued CPS history. In the fight for equal education, it is imperative that we all stand with NTA.

Friday, November 30, 2018

MTV's Real World Auditions Come to the Sloop on Saturday 12/8

Here is your shot (via wbbm):
Do you remember the days of simpler reality TV where contestants didn't just vy the cameras and start drama to get attention? You could be part of that reality on the next "Real World."
The MTV reality TV show just announced it will be relaunching after its most recent 32nd season and is coming to Chicago in the search for new roommates, according to its casting page. Facebook Watch is teaming up with MTV to revamp the original storyline where strangers live in a fancy house and deal with the drama that unolds for the world to watch. But this time, it will be streamed online through Facebook, which started Aug. 9 and features news programs, shows and reality content for Facebook consumers.

On Dec. 8, Chicagoans feeling nostalgic about the 90s hit show or who want a change of scenery, lifestyle and gossip can audition for the show. Auditions will be held at Bar Louie in the South Loop from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Contestants must be 21 to enter and if you can't make the audition in person, you can apply online.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Hopes "The 78" Development Shows Chicago Path to Racial Equality

The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board weighs in on "The 78" development as an opportunity for Chicago to be more inclusive:
Chicago has got to shed its “tale of two cities” image.
So it’s well worth paying attention to what happens in a big new development called “The 78.” We might learn a little about how to best counter the racial inequality and violence that besets our city.

Chicago needs a new story of “one city,” characterized by equity and inclusion. In minority neighborhoods, more jobs and economic opportunity are sorely needed.

Tens of thousands of jobs will be in the mix as The 78 — billed as Chicago’s “next great neighborhood,” adding to the existing 77 — takes shape on a 62-acre parcel at Clark Street and Roosevelt Road in the South Loop.

To ensure that underrepresented groups get a fair share of jobs and contracts, developer Related Midwest has created a “diversity council” of outside partners, including nonprofits and minority contracting and labor groups. The council will monitor hiring and contracting for the planned $7 billion mixed-use development, which is expected to generate 15,000 construction jobs and 24,000 permanent jobs.

“We’re not just going to have a job fair and call it a day,” Related Midwest’s Dan Biernacki told the Sun-Times.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right, and set the standard for how other organizations can do this in the city, state and nation,” said Jorge Perez of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.

As the mayoral election ramps up, we expect to hear about a lot of crime-fighting strategies, such as more surveillance cameras and drones.

But the more solutions focus on the positive, targeting the roots of crime by creating good jobs and a sense of hope, the better.
It's a slightly strange write-up if you ask us...but hope they're right.

Long Time Shoe Store Succezz Moves Down Michigan Avenue to New Address (2214 S. Michigan)

We were recently driving Michigan Avenue and noticed a new occupied storefront south of Cermak:


Upon some more digging on their Facebook page it looks like Succezz is moving from their longtime home at 1329 S. Michigan down the street to 2214 S. Michigan:

As a reminder, Succezz has been a long time tenant on the 1300 S. Michigan block.  As you can see by the photo at the top of the page they're celebrating their 10th anniversary. 

The 1300 S. Michigan Avenue block has seen a flurry of activity and retail moving in - although it seems to mostly be spas and exercise spaces.  Losing the shoe store probably won't hurt this area much.

On the flip side, the addition of Succezz to the changing Motor Row entertainment district (south of Cermak) seems like a good development for the area.  A proven South Loop business moving into a part of the neighborhood that can use a shot in the arm = a positive thing for the south side of the Sloop.

Best of luck to Succezz!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Aniko Salon Closes at 1111 S. Wabash?

A reader writes:
I'm not sure if this was reported, but it looks like Aniko Salon in the 1111 S Wabash building closed, and a new salon on the south side of the 1111 S Wabash entrance is open. (between the building entrance and the garage entrance).
We weren't aware of this, but maybe the construction of the hotel just to the North contributed to the closure?  Anyone have any perspective?

(Hat tip:  SS!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Shark's Fish and Chicken Opens at Cermak and State


It appears that Shark's Fish and Chicken is officially open at the NE corner of State and Cermak.  As a reminder, the retail at this corner burned down in grand fashion on NYE in 2014.

It's been slow moving on the rebuild, but the space looks nicer and hopefully some other good spots move in.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Panozzo's Artifact

Now that Kome Japanese Eatery closed at 1303 S. Michigan, it only feels fitting that we look back at a neighborhood favorite that used to call this space home:
I don't know if you guys would have any interest in running this but I found a sentimental artifact when cleaning up the archive. All the letters are real people. This was a crude sketch that was going to become a T-shirt. Enjoy.
I still miss the joint. (I'm the 'D' in the middle)

(Hat tip:  DL!)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Obama Foundation Wraps Up Second Summit in the Sloop

The second annual Obama Foundation Summit wrapped up last weekend and while there wasn't any major news, it was good to hear our former president wax poetically about the current state of the world (via Chicago Tribune):
Former President Barack Obama urged organizers and social innovators gathered at the Obama Foundation summit Monday evening to be patient in their pursuits of wide-scale community change.

And in their moments of exhaustion, Obama said, they must remember that generations before them fought for equality, justice, environmental protections and other rights.

“You should be extraordinarily impatient about the injustices and nonsense and foolishness you see around you and you should be finding opportunities at every juncture to challenge those things,” he said. “At the same time, you have to keep in your mind: Societies are these complex, organic things that you don’t turn (like) switches. They evolve. They shift. They change.”

The summit is in its second year and both have resided in the South Loop - this year at the Marriott Marquis on Cermak.  This likely will change when his Obama's Presidential Library is complete, but in the meantime it's nice to have the event in our neighborhood.

If you're wondering what the summit is here is a recap:
The Obama summit is a two-day conference that brings together civic innovators and community activists from around the world to network, exchange ideas and use the Obama brand to strengthen their platforms. Guests from 41 countries and 17 states attended this year. About 100 participants were from Chicago.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Happy Thanksgiving:

Not sure about you, but we're thankful that the Bears play today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Holiday CTA Trains Start This Week

Here comes the Holiday CTA train (link):
  • Green Line & Orange Line | Fri 11/23
  • Green Line | Sat 11/24
  • Green Line & Orange Line | Tue 11/27
  • Orange Line & Brown Line | Wed 11/28
  • Orange Line & Brown Line | Thu 11/29
  • Orange Line & Brown Line | Fri 11/30
  • Orange Line & Brown Line | Sat 12/1
  • Red Line | Tue 12/11
  • Red Line | Thur 12/13
  • Red Line | Sat 12/15

There is also a holiday bus if you prefer that...

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 19, 2018

StubHub Opens Brick-and-Mortar Store at NW Wabash and Balbo

When did this place open?

In case you didn't know, this is at the corner of NWWabash and Balbo in the new residential building at the corner.

There is little question that the internet and smartphones have changed the face of commerce forever, but a minor trend has emerged over the past few years, one that reveals the inherent need for retailers to get up-close and personal with consumers.
StubHub — the latest in a long line of ecommerce companies that are taking a step back in time to embrace brick-and-mortar stores — is opening its first flagship retail outlet just off Times Square in New York City.

The location seems to make sense given it's proximity to Soldier Field and Grant Park (for Lollapalooza).  Has anyone been here?  Seen anyone in here?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Living the Language Daycare Moving to 2111 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
I noticed that Living The Language International Daycare opened up at 2111 s Michigan Ave this month. They were on 31st in Bronzeville, but recently moved.

You can find out more here.

Another nice development for the Motor Row area.

(Hat tip: SG!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

So We Didn't Get Amazon's HQ2...

While the build-up to an announcement was softened last week as news leaked out that Amazon was in "late negotiations" with Long Island City in New York and Arlington in Northern Virginia, the final decision still stings.

Chicago always seemed like a long shot if the national media was to believed.  Yes, we had almost all the boxes checked for what Amazon was looking for, but at the end, the decision to land in the New York and Washington DC metros didn't feel like a shock. 

There is a lot to read on the topic.  In Chicago, the Tribune writes about "what's next" for Chicago and its tech scene.  It strikes a positive tone, but the reality is our fine city lags behind many others on this front.  Mayor Emanuel was coy in his answers on the topic claiming NDA confidentiality (which we can respect).

Interestingly, much of the press coverage has been negative - granted that's what tends to drive clicks.  Popular tech site The Verge has a headline that reads "Amazon's HQ2 Stunt Could Come Back to Haunt it" and Quartz writes "Amazon Had a Chance to Redefine It's Corporate Culture...and Blew it".

For us in the Sloop, the big question is what will happen with Related Midwest's massive 78 development?  We know it's going in front of the Chicago Plan Commission later this month, but will the pace of this development slow and change?  The simple answer is probably yes.  Will recently defeated Governor Rauner's Discovery Partners Institute technology project - that was slated for this area - fizzle out?  Who knows. 

Time will tell.  But in the meantime, another game changing development opportunity has been missed. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Digs for Field's T. Rex Sue Opening on December 21st


via Chicago Tribune:
Sue the T. rex now has a date for its housewarming party.

The Field Museum’s prime T. rex skeleton, visible only through a small viewing window for much of the last year, will be on view in its new, fully decorated second-floor home beginning Dec. 21, the museum announced Monday.

The new, 5,100-square-foot display, in a former movie theater space amid the “Evolving Planet” exhibition, will surround Sue with interactives and other touches meant to put the animal in context for museum-goers.

The largest, most intact T. rex ever found was moved out of its longtime home in Stanley Field Hall as part of a 125th anniversary remaking of the central hall.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Chase Branch at Dearborn and Harrison Officially Closed

A reader writes:
If only "Printer's Row" restaurant could return (the other half of its site now occupied by Potbelly)!

We posted about this back in August, but it appears this branch is officially closed.  Here is to hoping something more exciting moves in...

(Hat tip:  AB!)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Kome Japanesse Eatery Closes at 1303 S. Michigan

Looks like we got confirmation on a post we did back in October:

Kome opened in November of 2017.  Before that Ameritalia had a short stint between 2014 and 2017.  And before that a neighborhood favorite - Panozzo's held down the fort at this location for a relatively long time.

Will be curious to see what's next...

(Hat tip: JH!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Amazon's HQ2 Search Nearing Decision and Reportedly Could Split Between Two Cities

It appears the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes is getting closer to a resolution as a bevy of stories have leaked out from prominent newspapers including Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The biggest news appears to be that Amazon has changed their thinking and is planning on splitting HQ2 between two sites.  The two metro areas most widely cited in "advanced negotiations" are Washington DC and New York City.  Additionally Dallas was mentioned as another location being seriously considered.

While some of the articles concede there could be other locations in discussion, the lack of a Chicago mention makes it seem like our city is likely out of the running.  Local media and government officials caution against that thinking (via Crain's Chicago):
The Wall Street Journal responded with a story yesterday saying Dallas and New York are still talking with Amazon, too. Chicago isn't currently negotiating, sources tell the Journal, although the paper notes that doesn't necessarily count the city out.
Asked to comment on the weekend’s reports, City Hall spokesman Adam Collins said, "As fun as it is to speculate on rumors, we're not playing that parlor game.”
While we understand the statement, it doesn't bode well in our opinion.

The most interesting blurb we read was some commentary on Amazon's decision to split up the "HQ2" between two cities (via Wall Street Journal): 
But the plan to halve one of the biggest proposed economic developments in years could also be viewed as a letdown for the 20 locales that Amazon chose as finalists earlier this year. When Amazon initially announced plans for HQ2 more than a year ago, it promised to bring as many as 50,000 employees and more than $5 billion in investments to the new location over nearly 20 years.
Amazon expects to view all three of its main U.S. offices as headquarters with similar executive and back-office functions, the person familiar with the effort said. But the split means the company is essentially creating two offices smaller than its Seattle headquarters, which holds 45,000 workers.

Jeff Finkle, president of the International Economic Development Council, a group that represents economic-development officials across the country, said it is going to be harder now for any one community to claim to have won an Amazon headquarters.

“Many of these communities were hoping to brand themselves as the co-headquarters with Seattle,” he said. “I think it becomes just a regional office or a back office or a major office but not a co-headquarters.”
Despite this thinking, all 20 finalists would presumably still welcome half of the HQ2 prize - however some of the prestige might have been lost.

While our confidence in Chicago winning has waned, we will stay tuned to see how this story progresses.

(Hat tip: PB!)

Monday, November 5, 2018

State Releases New School Rating System Which Contradicts CPS Rating System

About 7 in 10 Illinois schools are rated “commendable” on the state’s overhauled school report cards, but the simplified, positive labels belie a more nuanced story of school quality here.
The school rating system is new to the state report cards, which were made public Tuesday, and is meant to describe how well each school educates all types of students. Schools fall into one of four tiers based on last year’s test data: “exemplary,” “commendable,” “underperforming” or “lowest performing.”

The label system relies heavily on another new feature of the report cards: measuring students’ year-over-year improvement on standardized tests instead of simply their passing rates.

Of course, we needed to see how some of our schools are doing so went straight to the search.  The new state report cards didn't look pretty for our local neighborhood school:

The Tribune article goes onto note that the methodology for the state at times is at odds with CPS rating methodology:
The state ratings are separate from the district’s School Quality Rating Policy, a CPS in-house performance category system widely referred to as SQRP. District officials stressed that the CPS system is based on other metrics and relies on different standardized tests than the state’s.
Each rating system assigns what looks like contradictory ratings to many city schools, which may send mixed messages to parents.

While only a dozen CPS schools carry the state’s top exemplary rating, the district’s rating system gives its top mark to 185 schools.

At least 86 schools that earned CPS’ best two ratings were designated underperforming or lowest performing by the state. One school that earned CPS’ top rating, Moos Elementary, was among the lowest performing 5 percent statewide, according to the Illinois State Board of Education measure.

Meanwhile, a couple of Chicago schools that the state viewed as commendable were the worst-rated by CPS standards.
That contradiction appears to be the case for South Loop elementary as it's rated "Level 1" - which means it's a the higher end of the CPS rating spectrum.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Related's "The 78" Project Goes to the Chicago Plan Commission Later this Month

Curbed Chicago writes:
After approving the first phase of the 30-acre River District development in October, the Chicago Plan Commission is preparing to vote on an even larger riverfront proposal—the 62-acre, Near South Side campus known as The 78. The mixed-use project is the largest to appear on the commission’s preliminary November agenda.

Developed by Related Midwest with architectural master planning by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The 78 calls for nothing short of an entirely new neighborhood between the South Loop and Chinatown. It is one of several locations Chicago has shopped to Amazon for its HQ2 second headquarters. The Seattle-based tech giant is expected to announce the winning city by the end of the year.

Though the final design of The 78 will ultimately depend on an end users like Amazon or some other major corporate tenant, the development team is ready to get the zoning process rolling. Phase one of the megaproject focuses primarily on building new roads and relocating the Metra tracks that currently obstruct the eastern side of the site.
Good to see some movement here, but the big elephant in the room is Amazon and whether that long shot comes to the Sloop.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fencing Goes Up Signaling Movement for Micro-Apartments and Roots Pizza Building?


A reader writes:
Empty Lot on Dearborn and Polk. Fencing and two portable toilets were dropped off in the past 2-3 days. Maybe we will get another pizza place!!
The reader is referencing a surprising article we posted about back in the Summer where the owner of the 50/50 restaurant group said one of their Roots Pizza restaurants would presumably be coming the well trafficked SW corner of Dearborn and Polk.

We chalked that up to lofty talk by an aspiring restaurateur, but maybe we were wrong?  Maybe the micro-apartments and pizza joint are actually coming.  Anyone have any scoop?

With this building potentially coming and work on the mega-mansion/retail on the ground floor development across the street - the Printers Row drag is getting some more action.  This is one of our favorite spots in the whole neighborhood and while already developed has potential to get even better.  We will see.

(Hat tip:  SB!)


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Native American Hall Revamp Coming to Field Museum

An interesting read if you're curious how Museums evolve their exhibits to better reflect groups they highlight in their halls (via Chicago Tribune):
Field Museum will transform its aged Native North American Hall in the next three years, working to develop the new exhibits with Native Americans as “community partners,” the museum announced Monday.
It is a “much, much needed renovation,” Field president and CEO Richard Lariviere said. “This project intends to correct the way the museum tells the Native American history by doing so through the lens and voices of Native Americans.”

The hall will remain open throughout the three-year overhaul, with fall of 2021 as the targeted completion date, but some of the artifacts in the Chicago natural history museum’s rich collection have already begun to be taken down.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sun Times: Could new CPS ratings halt South Loop H.S., save National Teachers Academy?

Some new news on the South Loops public schooling options (via SunTimes):
New Chicago Public Schools ratings released Friday are threatening to derail a controversial plan to open a high school at the South Loop site of a top-performing elementary that would be shuttered under the plan.

CPS officials have assured parents for years that they wouldn’t close a school unless its students were guaranteed a place in a higher-performing school. National Teachers Academy parents were told the same when they were assigned to South Loop Elementary as NTA closes to make way for a new high school in the booming South Loop. 
But the updated ratings unveiled Friday show that South Loop Elementary has fallen a level according to the School Quality Ratings Policy — from the top rating, Level 1+, to Level 1, while NTA remained at Level 1+.

NTA’s parents, who’ve waged a fierce battle against the closing at public hearings and through a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, hope the news saves their school from a closing one grade at a time as the proposed new high school welcomes its freshman class in September.

Despite this plans appear to be moving forward:
District spokesman Michael Passman said officials have no plans to change course.

“South Loop is a proven school that remains in good academic standing, and school leadership are working to ensure the school returns to the Level 1+ status it has earned in every previous school year,” he said in an email. “The decision to transition NTA to a high school was made in February following extensive community engagement and in compliance with all legal requirements. As the transition moves forward, we will continue to meet all legal requirements and work closely with the NTA and South Loop communities to promote a successful transition that benefits all students.
We will see what - if anything - happens here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Robber in Clown Mask Hits Dunkin Donuts at 16th and Michigan

My nightmare comes to the Sloop IRL (via Chicago Tribune):
Someone wearing a clown mask and wielding a gun robbed a South Loop Dunkin’ Donuts early Thursday, an employee told Chicago police.
In addition to the mask, the robber wore a green coat and green pants to the business in the 1500 block of South Michigan Avenue, but was not further described, police said.

Walking through the front doors just before 1:50 a.m. while an employee was alone in the store, the suspect held a handgun, announced a robbery and demanded the employee open a drawer to the cash register, police said.

The suspect grabbed the whole drawer, with an undisclosed amount of money inside, and ran out the back door, police said.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

African Restaurant Coming to 2101 S. State Next To Reggie's Rock Club?


From Eater Chicago:
The owner of the shuttered Bolat African Cuisine in Lakeview and Iyanze in Uptown have plans to open a restaurant in the South Loop, according to city permits. Emmanuel Abidemi, owner of the two restaurants, is named on permits for a building at 2101 S. State Street. Chicago Cityscape first noticed the permits.
The new restaurant is near Reggie’s Rock Club. The space has been on the market for a few years. Bolat closed in 2016 and the block has since been demolished as developers continue to redefine the area surrounding Wrigley Field with new restaurants, shops, and hotels.

Reggie's Rock Club is one of the most interesting restaurant/bars/record store/music venue the Sloop has, so it would be nice to see some additional solid restaurant options around it.

Stay tuned for more info.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tea Pot Brew Bakery Officially Opens at 1802 S. Wabash

In case you missed it last week, it looks like Tea Pot Brew Bakery has officially opened (according to a post by Alderman Pat Dowell on Facebook):
At the grand opening of the Tea Pot Brew Bakery at 1802 South Wabash. The line is out the door!! People (lots of young people) enjoying delicious ice cream, hot teas and coffees, cookies, cakes and pies. Owners Veranda and Yomi are Chicagoans bringing new energy to the South Loop.

Judging from the pics it looks like pastries, gelato, coffee and tea is available.  The space looks great and we wish them the best of luck.

As a reminder, we first posted about this in June.  This little building has sat vacant for a long time so it's nice to see an interesting local business turn it into something.

Monday, October 22, 2018

CityFront Center Serves as a Cautionary Tale for The 78 Development in the Sloop

If you're into urban design and city planning, we highly suggest reading an excellent article on the Tribune about the CityFront Center.  Beyond having great graphics and pictures, it serves as a good reminder for us in the South Loop as our own developments - such as the 78 take shape:
Viewed from the air, it’s a stunning transformation — in just 30 years, a gritty swath of cleared land and surface parking lots has become a glistening new part of Chicago.
But people experience cities on the ground, not in the air. Put the 60 acres between Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue under a microscope and what you see is a cityscape of great expectations and half-kept promises.

The deal was simple: The city would let developers build tall at Cityfront Center, Chicago’s largest real estate development of the 1980s. In exchange, there would be beautiful buildings, streets, parks, plazas and a riverwalk.

Yet the architecture, with rare exceptions, is mediocre. The public spaces were supposed to be vibrant and interconnected. Instead, they are unfinished, underachieving, largely disjointed and even, in one case, off-limits to the public.

Urban planning flops like these loom large as city officials review new megaplans from developers who pretty up their visions of skyscrapers with dazzling drawings of riverwalks, bike trails and other amenities teeming with smiling, attractive people.

For the 53-acre Lincoln Yards on the North Side, developer Sterling Bay wants to construct 12 million square feet of buildings, including towers as tall as 800 feet. It’s sweetening the deal by proposing amenities like an extension of The 606 bike and pedestrian trail east of the Kennedy Expressway.

At The 78, a 62-acre project on the Near South Side that Amazon is considering as an HQ2 site, developer Related Midwest has laid out plans for 13 million square feet, including skyscrapers up to 950 feet tall. Its sweeteners include a 100-foot-wide, half-mile-long riverwalk lined by restaurants and shops.

The planner of both projects, the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, co-designed Cityfront Center’s master plan. But if Cityfront Center is any guide, some of the promised amenities will never materialize.

The broader South Loop area has had some transformational projects already such as Dearborn Park 1 & 2 and Central Station development.  While many have issues with those, they certainly were pioneers for what our neighborhood has become and will continue to evolve into.  Should be fun to see how the latest wave transforms the Sloop.