Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Look at the New Buildings Changing Chicago's Skyline

Curbed Chicago has an article about "The new class of skyscrapers that will forever change the Chicago skyline".  It's a fun read for people who like these types of things.  Two South Loop buildings are mentioned - One Grant Park & 1000M:
One Grant Park Rendering
As we know One Grant Park is well underway. 

1000M - not yet, but wow that rendering picture above is pretty beautiful and elegant.  We will see when they get going...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Taco Madre Officially Open at 823 S. State

It appears that Taco Madre is officially open judging by these photos:

As a reminder, this spot was formerly an extension of Jimmy Green's Bar & Grill.  We first heard about Taco Madre back in September of last year.

If anyone has been, would love to hear how it is and what it compares to.

(Hat tip:  DS!)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Amazonians Invade Chicago on Wed/Thurs to Kick Tires on City's Bid to Lure HQ2

So does this mean we cracked this one last week?

Sorry to gloat, but (via Chicago Tribune):
An Amazon advance team will hit Chicago late next week to visit some of the proposed locations for a new headquarters, a source familiar with the visit who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly said Friday.
Company officials will visit a handful of the 10 sites city and state officials have pitched, the source said. It’s not clear how long the team will be here as it tries to decide where to build a second headquarters to complement the company’s first one in Seattle.
The article goes on to clarify the sights being considered:
The Chicago bid proposed 10 potential sites, including some that would combine and connect buildings and land controlled by multiple owners. One such option would combine space in the vacant old main post office, a redeveloped Union Station and the 110-story Willis Tower.
Big land sites include 62 acres along the Chicago River in the South Loop, which Related Midwest plans to develop; more than 70 acres of riverfront land near Lincoln Park and Bucktown, which developer Sterling Bay is calling Lincoln Yards; 37 acres along the river between downtown and the North Side, owned by Tribune Media; and the former Michael Reese Hospital site and other land south of McCormick Place, which a team led by Farpoint Development and Draper and Kramer is redeveloping.

Other articles on the topic from Crain's specifies that Amazonians will be in Chicago on Wednesday (3/21) and Thursday (3/22)

Expect to see a lot more information on this topic as the frenzy picks-up...

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Chicago Firehouse Gets Some Steakhouse Love from Eater Chicago

A local favorite gets some love from Eater Chicago's 20 essential steakhouse map:
After a devastating fire shut it down for two years, Chicago Firehouse Restaurant rose from the ashes better than ever. Ownership restored the original Tiffany-glazed bricks and custom millwork while also adding a solarium and a basement speakeasy. Dishes reflect the converted fire station’s history and include oysters Rockefeller, Shrimp de Jonghe, and a chateaubriand for two.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Pop-up Shop at Roosevelt Collection, North and Hudson, Now Open

Looks like Roosevelt Collection has a new pop-up shop (via Roosevelt Collection Facebook page):
(Hat tip:  SC!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Riverline Development Split Into Two Projects

Interesting move at the Riverline development on the Chicago River (via Chicago Tribune):
Less than two years after breaking ground on one of Chicago’s most ambitious residential developments, Riverline’s owners have split the $2 billion plan into two projects along the Chicago River. 
Riverline’s developers said the eight-tower South Loop mega-development is now two separately controlled projects, with Australia’s Lendlease taking over work on the 7-acre portion north of River City Condominiums and Chicago-based CMK Cos. keeping the 8-acre parcel south of the Bertrand Goldberg-designed complex.
It seems strange that this is happening, but according to the article their is no ill will between the two parties.

The one sentence that stuck out as a sore thumb to us was:
Construction timing and the mix of units will depend on demand.
To be honest this isn't shocking.  There is a ton of development happening in the South Loop and city, so it seems natural that developers might be trying to slow down.

We were actually talking to a local real estate developer who doesn't focus on the South Loop, but thought the neighborhood was the canary in a coal mine.

Should be interesting to see how things play out over the next year or two.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What's Going on With the House Being Built at Dearborn and Polk?

A couple readers have pondered:
So the construction at Dearborn and Polk. I haven’t see anyone working on it in 2018. Wondered if you had heard word on anything.

We've noticed the same thing, but don't know what's going on.  Anyone have any inside knowledge?

As a reminder, this is supposed to look like this eventually (maybe):

(Hat tip:  VC & LM!)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Could Dome Structure on 62-Acre Related Midwest Lot Signal Something About Amazon's HQ2?

On Friday we posted about some readers noticing some movement at Related Midwest's huge vacant lot south of Roosevelt next to the river.

Over the weekend, we noticed another shot of the progress on the Facebook page Hello South Loop:

It's a pretty unique and specific dome shape - which is kinda cool.  The thing is this got us thinking...

We've been reading about Amazon entering into the second phase of their HQ2 search and how they've started the process of visiting contending cities.  This article from CNN Money makes it sound like they've met with representatives in Washington DC and Denver already.  Beyond those two areas it's uncertain if they've met with others or if they plan to.

As we know Chicago is one of 20 finalists, but many believe we're not a front-runner (depending on who you talk to).

So what does this picture have to do with all of that?  Well...does this picture below mean anything to you (via Archpaper):

If not that's ok.  These are "Amazon’s triple-domed Spheres in downtown Seattle" which just opened earlier this year on their HQ campus. 

So in the never-ending search for clues on HQ2 process, could Related Midwest and Chicago be showcasing how Amazon's "Spheres" could come to life in our city?  After all this is one of the sites being offered to Amazon if they chose Chicago as a home for their second headquarters.

Maybe not.  Apparently a FB comment from an employee at Related Midwest simply clarifies:  "It's our meeting space for the development".

But what development?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Something Going On at Related Midwest's Vacant 62-Acre South Loop Lot

A reader writes:
I’ve overlooked the open lot and have been interested by the news over the years that there were plans to develop the land, but never saw any activity until the last week or so.

Late last week, they began grading an area and now appear to be beginning work on pouring concrete as of yesterday.

There’s activity right now, but it’s probably fairly difficult to get a vantage point. I’m happy to share more progress photos if this continues, but I didn’t see any reporting anywhere that there was a change.


He then followed up with this:
As a follow up, I took a quick time lapse of the activity there today.

I don’t have any construction experience, but I’m fairly certain this is just a slab without a foundation, so I presume there’s a much simpler permit and approval process.

This lot has been rumored to have a lot of things coming, but not sure what will ever materialize.  Some of the most recent and most high-profile rumors the Amazon HQ2 project and/or U of I "Discovery Partners Institute".

Time will tell...

(Hat tip:  RK!)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

New Field Museum Brand Reminds Us: "Earth. We're on it."

Some more news coming out of the Field Museum (via Chicago Tribune):
The Field Museum is hoping to change the way people perceive it.
The institution in the big wedding cake-building by the lakefront knows that people know it as a natural history museum, stuffed with dinosaur bones and mammal dioramas and all manner of cultural artifacts from peoples across time.

But what folks aren’t so clear on is the museum’s work as a contemporary research institution, one that employs 150 scientists, officials said.

So the Field, beginning Tuesday, is rebranding itself with more emphasis on the institution as a whole and on the science done therein, part of a momentous 125th anniversary year that is also seeing a makeover of the central Stanley Field Hall, including the displacement of prized fossil Sue the T. rex in favor of a gigantic titanosaur skeleton cast.

The new slogan at the center of this first branding makeover since 1999? “Earth. We’re on it.”
Here is a video if you're looking to understand the new branding a little more:

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New Marriott Marquis Brings Legit Competition for Other Large Hotels

Seems like the new Marriott Marquis which is the new hotel that was part of the McCormick Place expansion is affecting other large hotels in the city (via
Investors in downtown Chicago hotels are getting their first glimpse at what competition from the new Marriott Marquis at McCormick Place could mean for their bottom lines, if the performance of one of the city's biggest hotels is any indication.
Pointing to the arrival of the 1,205-room hotel next to the convention center as a primary culprit, the owners of the Hilton Chicago reported last week that revenue per available room at the property fell by 6.1 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter to $142.35.

Not shocking that this is the case and frankly probably a good thing for the neighborhood.  Agree?

(Hat tip:  VC!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Shots Fired at South Loop Target Yesterday Afternoon

Scary scene at Target yesterday (via Chicago Tribune):
One person was being questioned by detectives after two men fired shots at people in a car in a South Loop parking garage Monday afternoon, Chicago police said.
The shots were fired about 4:30 p.m. in the garage in the 1100 block of South Clark Street, according to police.
Sounds like no one was injured, but yikes!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Special Olympic Games Monument Coming to Neighborhood

A nice statue coming to the neighborhood (via Curbed):
Plans for a permanent monument honoring Chicago’s role in hosting the very first Special Olympics Games 50 years ago was unveiled at a ceremonial groundbreaking event Friday afternoon. Titled the Eternal Flame of Hope, the 30-foot-tall piece of public art will be joined by a new plaza and landscaping on Soldier Field’s north lawn, fronting McFetridge Drive.

The outdoor ceremony was attended by local officials including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. She got the idea to create the Special Olympics in 1967 working as a 23-year-old Park District instructor heading a program for children with intellectual disabilities at West Pullman Park.

One year later, Chicago’s Soldier Field hosted nearly 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada at the first ever International Special Olympics Games. Since 1968, the games have grown into nothing short of a worldwide movement, attracting 5 million athletes from 172 countries.

Friday, March 2, 2018

DePaul Basketball Struggles with Attendance at New Wintrust Arena

Unsurprisingly (to us at least) Depaul struggles to fill their new Wintrust arena (via DePaulia):
DePaul’s debut basketball season in the South Loop has been rough — the team is currently at risk of finishing dead last in the Big East standings for the eighth time in the last decade. But tough competition, injuries and streaky offense aren’t the only ghosts to follow the Blue Demons to Wintrust Arena.
Since moving from a cavernous 17,000 seats at Allstate to a cozy 10,000 at Wintrust, DePaul’s men’s basketball team is still struggling to fill the stands, continuing to rely heavily upon ranked opponents and traveling fans to draw sizable crowds.

Through DePaul’s home game against Creighton on Feb. 7, the Blue Demons had drawn an average of 2,993 people to their games, including two that saw fewer than 1,000 people, according to attendance numbers obtained by The DePaulia through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (commonly known as “McPier”), the quasi-governmental agency that partnered with the university to build and operate Wintrust.

While this is only one of the tenants - it was meant to be the primary tenant.  Curious to see if things improve.  A good basketball team would help!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Chicago's Board of Education Votes to Close NTA and Convert Into Neighborhood High School

Looks like the South Loop High School is moving forward (via SunTimes):
Despite emotional opposition, Chicago’s Board of Education voted Wednesday on the first school closings since 2013, a historic measure that also affected primarily African-American schools.
All six current school board members voted to permanently close Harper, Hope, Robeson and Team Englewood high schools, the last four neighborhood schools in that South Side community. Former principal Gail Ward abstained from voting to close National Teachers Academy elementary school, which will gradually be turned into a high school for the booming South Loop.

NTA, home to mostly African-American students at 55 W. Cermak, will eventually be merged with the wealthier and more diverse South Loop Elementary School, which is getting a new annex. NTA’s building will become a neighborhood high school for the Near South Side, including for the residents of Chinatown who long have lobbied for a nearby neighborhood school.