Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Columbia College Chicago: Radical Leftism Institute?

We're always interested when we see something published about the neighborhood from a news source we don't often read.  That's why we were very interested to see this headline come to our attention - "Radical leftism at Columbia College Chicago has gone unnoticed. It's the next UC Berkeley".

The news source is the Washington Examiner and the article was written by a student.  You can read the entire thing here, but there are some pretty bold statements:
Columbia College Chicago is an arts school, so I knew I was headed to a very liberal college when I applied in early 2016. I was not, however, prepared for a cultural Marxist snakepit of angry feminists and social justice fanatics. I did not expect professors to openly advocate for communism. Mostly, I was surprised to discover the total absence of conservative and libertarian viewpoints.
This seems pretty biased to us, but we've never taken a class at Columbia so can't say one way or the other.  Anyway, if you're interested in politics or how an anchor institution in the South Loop is (most likely) perceived take a read.

After reading this, we immediately wondered what is the Washington Examiner's place in our news world.  So we took a look at one of our favorite charts on the interwebs that plots the how certain media outlets lean on a political bias - check out this article and/or chart below:
 Unsurprisingly the Washington Examiner tends to lean conservative.

Monday, May 21, 2018

What's Up With the Huge Crane on Michigan?

A couple readers were asking us why there is a huge crane at the vacant lot on Michigan:


While there is certainly a lot of action at the Essex on the Park development and a lot of buzz about the Helmut Jahn condo building just south of it, news about development on this lot has been quiet (at least as far as we know).

Anyone have the scoope?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Various South Loop Restaurants Featured on Curbed/Eater Interactive Maps

One of our favorite things about the Vox media sites Curbed & Eater are their map posts.  It's a fun way to learn about new spots around the city.

Over the past couple of weeks they've had a variety of maps that feature various Sloop spots:
12 Luscious Lobster Rolls:#11:  A two-Michelin-starred restaurant might not seem like the place for a lobster roll but those who sit at the bar are treated to perhaps the finest version in Chicago. Chef and owner Ryan McCaskey, who’s spent time in Maine, produces an indulgent roll that’s lightly dressed with chive mayo and smoky paprika. Guests can also order it Connecticut-style, which is served warm and holds the mayo for butter.
The 20 Essential Outdoor Dining Spots in Chicago  #15: Make the work day a little more bearable by working from this South Loop cafĂ©. The Spoke & Bird’s 2,500-square-foot patio is a fine stand-in for the office and guests can pass the time with a host of coffees, sandwiches, and — if they desire to get boozy — craft beers.

#16: Dubbed “Reggies Trainwreck Rooftop Deck,” the rock club’s elevated playground is the place to be on a warm day. The patio can accommodate up to 99 patrons and sports a full bar, eight flat screens, picnic tables, a pool table, and other diversions.

20 New Spots for Chicago’s Patio SeasonPut on a bib and get cracking. The seafood boil restaurant emulates backyard gatherings in the South with a patio with abundant foliage and twinkling lights. Dig into bags of delicious shellfish and sip on rotating cocktails from a highball machine.
It's hard to argue with these - that being said, we may suggest adding Flo & Santos to the essential outdoor dining spots, but that's just us.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Some Activity at Small Building on SW Corner of 18th and Wabash; Maybe a Coffee Shop?

A reader writes:
Looks likes finally something is coming to that small business right on the corner of 18th and Wabash when I saw the guys working on it today I asked him what it was going to be and one of them said a coffee shop

We've always been fascinated by this little building and pondered what it could be.  A fun little bar?  A tiny boutique?  Maybe a coffee shop?

Curious if this will be a chain or something more unique.  Anyone have the deets?

(Hat tip:  BL!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gioco Closes Their Doors After 19 Year Run on South Wabash

A neighborhood staple quietly closed their doors this past weekend (via Eater Chicago):
Gioco, the South Loop Italian restaurant that’s been around for 19 years, is closing following dinner service on Sunday. The shutter seemed inevitable after the restaurant’s owner and a real estate agent revealed problems in securing a new lease back in September. There’s no word yet on what the landlord plans for the soon-to-be vacant property at 1312 S. Wabash Avenue.

The restaurant’s lease expires in August, and co-owner Howard Davis said he couldn’t work out an extension. The South Loop was much more barren 20 years ago, and property prices were lower. Davis estimated his team paid about $1,500 per month when they first opened Gioco. That’s a steal compared to current prices.

“We had a great run,” Davis said, who added that he spoke with business partner Jerry Kleiner about the decision. Kleiner lives in California. “We tried for quite a while to strike a deal.”
This restaurant was a pioneering force for the neighborhood and in our book should get a lot of credit for paving the way for other restaurants/bars in the Sloop.  It hasn't been all smooth sailing for this restaurant.  Back in 2017 it appeared they were going to close and way back in 2011 they had some tax issues and change in the kitchen

While Gioco will be missed, we're curious to see what comes next for this high-profile space.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Talk to Us in 20 Years: How the new "78" development Could Change the Sloop

It's been a couple days since Related unveiled their plans for "The 78" - the new development planned for the huge 62-acre lot south of Roosevelt road and next to the river.

As expected, there is a ton of information to digest about the project and frankly it will be interesting to see what comes to be.  Bisnow hits on some of the key components, the price tag and also how long this could take:
A 100-foot-wide riverwalk lined with restaurants. Pedestrian and bike paths connecting the South Loop to Chinatown. A tech incubator. Skyscrapers as tall as 950 feet. These are only a few of the plans Related Midwest has for The 78, its 62-acre South Loop site.

Related Midwest unveiled its master plan for The 78 at a public meeting Thursday night. The developer expects to spend up to 20 years and $5B redeveloping the site overlooking the Chicago River. Related Midwest President Curt Bailey said the development will draw from Chicago's history, culture and soul, and serve as a connection between the South Loop, Chinatown, Pilsen and Bronzeville.

A lot can change in 20 years, so while this looks amazing, chances of it living up to this vision seems remote.  The one thing that could accelerate all of this is if Amazon decides to choose Chicago and this site for their second headquarters.  Related's event didn't seem to shed much new news on the topic (via Curbed):
“The request for proposal calls for 8 million square feet. Our site has 13 million square feet so you do the math,” said Related Midwest president Curt Bailey when asked about Amazon at Thursday’s meeting. “But it’s an opaque process. I know as much as you know—which is basically what I read in the papers.”
One of the most interesting items in the release was the desire to add a redline stop to 15th and clark (via Chicago Tribune):
Related also is studying the feasibility and potential funding for a new CTA Red Line station at the intersection of Clark Street and an extended 15th Street, Bailey said.
In terms of when this could get started at this site, things appear to be a little uncertain.  From the articles we read, it seems like they're waiting on the city (via Chicago Tribune):
Because of road work on Wells, Related will likely wait at least 18 months before starting construction, Bailey said. Related also plans to move existing Metra train tracks west of Clark Street, which would become more pedestrian-friendly and would be lined with tall towers.
We are eager to see what transpires here...but patience will have to be key with this one.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shedd Aquarium's New Exhibit - Underwater Beauty - Opening May 25


Underwater Beauty New special exhibit opens May 25 
Our living world is full of wonder. Celebrate with us the unbelievable beauty living in our oceans, lakes and rivers in a new special exhibit at Shedd Aquarium: Underwater Beauty.

Get a glimpse of the grandeur beneath the waves as 100 species from around the world come together in an evocative new space. What is beauty? Spark your curiosity as you see all the ways beauty moves and coexists. Watch sea jellies pulse, eels ribbon and a rainbow come alive with reef fishes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Hamilton: The Exhibition" Coming to Northerly Island This Winter


In case you missed it earlier this week, looks like the Northerly Island is getting some Alexander Hamilton (via Curbed):
Downtown’s CIBC Theatre won’t be your only shot when it comes to getting your Hamiliton fix in Chicago after a new historical exhibit from the broadway musical’s creators opens at Northerly Island this fall.
Dubbed “Hamilton: The Exhibition,” the interactive attraction will make its world debut on November 17 inside a 27,000-square-foot temporary building south of the Adler Planetarium. It is expected to stay in Chicago until a yet-to-be-determined date before embarking on a tour to select cities nationwide.

A collaboration between Hamilton composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, set designer David Korins, and musical director Thomas Kail, the immersive experience will re-create pivotal events featured in the show as a well as lesser known periods in Alexander Hamilton’s life.

Seems a little strange on many fronts.  We know people are enamored by all things Hamilton thanks to the musical, but curious to see what the reception is for this type of "exhibit".

Additionally, the location seems tough to get to - especially during cold months.  Yes, Sloopsters may have a desire to go all the way out to Northerly Island but the common tourist?

What do we know...people were probably saying the same thing before the musical was penned...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Lendlease Receives Building Permit for Next Round of Buildings at Southbank Development (formerly known as Riverline)

Are the two towers on the left side of this picture about to get going?
A reader found some interesting info on the next phase of the "Riverline" project - which has been rebranded to Southbank after the two developers - Lendlease and CMK - split

Looks like Lendlease has received some additional building permits:
A member of Skyscraperpage who tracks building permits just posted the following: 
This is on the May Zoning Board of Appeals agenda. I'm not sure whether it's part of Riverline or what, but... 
New proposed 14 story, 173 unit building with ground floor uses at 207-21 W Harrison St (Harrison & Wells).

The developer is Alta Grand Central LLC. I think this is Riverline but...? (link
And a follow-up post:
Now here's the even BETTER news. It's actually two separate towers - one at 207 W Harrison and the other at 221 W Harrison. Both 14 floors with 173 units each - 346 units total. I found two permits - one per address pending for foundation new construction. (link)
If this is true, more density is coming to the river.

Although CMK has been active in other parts of the neighborhood (see post from last week) we haven't heard much about their lot along the river - north of Roosevelt and south of River City.

(Hat tip: DS!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

No New News on Mago Grill & Cantina - But Signs Says Temporarily Closed

It's been a couple weeks since Mago Grill & Cantina - the vibrant Mexican restaurant at Roosevelt Collection - abruptly had to close its doors.

While it's been hard to get much information, a new sign is on the door.  The sign says "temporarily closed" which would suggest they will re-open at some point.  Obviously this isn't a guarantee, but at least you can get a sense of their intentions:

We had a great experience at Mago, so hope they open again!

(Hat tip:  BS!)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Related Midwest Set to Provide More Details for "The 78" Development on Thursday

Not sure if you received this in the mail, but we did:

If you have a hard time reading the above, the main take is:
My colleagues and I are honored to present our proposal to transform the undeveloped 62-acre site at the southwest corner of Clark Street and Roosevelt Road into The 78, a neighborhood complete with all of the civic amenities, cultural features and unique character that make Chicago neighborhoods distinct. 
WHEN:   Thursday, May 10, 2018, 5:30 - 7:30 P.M.
WHERE:  Local 339 Union Hall,  2260 S. Grove Street Chicago, IL

Should be interesting to hear and see the vision for this property.  While obviously Related has the motivation to make money off the development, it is true that if developed will transform the South Loop.

We are also interested to hear if/what they say about the possibility of Amazon's HQ coming to the site and/or the "Discovery Partners Institute".

(Hat tip:  TC!)


Friday, May 4, 2018

David Letterman's Netflix Show That Filmed in the Sloop Comes Out Today

Remember when we said David Letterman was filming his new show in the Sloop?  Well that episode premieres today on Netflix (via Chicago Tribune):
David Letterman’s February visit to Chicago will be shown on an episode of his Netflix show that is scheduled to premiere Friday.
Letterman met with Buddy Guy at the blues legend’s South Loop club and the Athenian Room restaurant in Lincoln Park on Feb. 20 for “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”

The Athenian Room is a favorite of Second City alum Tina Fey, who is the featured guest on Friday’s episode. She is shown discussing improv techniques with Letterman in a clip of the show released Monday. That interview was taped in New York.

What's not clear is what role Buddy Guy played in the episode.  It seems as if he was a "secondary" guest?  We've watched two of the episodes and they do feature other people who are tangetially associated with the featured guest.  For Obama's interview it was Representative John Lewis.  For Jay-Z it was music producer Rick Rubin.


For Tina Fey it appears Buddy Guy is the secondary guest.  Maybe there will be some tie between improvisation in comedy and blues (Second City and Buddy Guy's Legends).  For what it's worth a reader sent us this instagram post:

(Hat tip: AR!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Confirmed: CMK Has Plans for Two More Buildings on South Wabash

Developer CMK continues to build in the Sloop!  Last week we posted about some fences going up on South Wabash and yesterday we received a link that confirmed that story and added some new details (via Real Deal):
The developer went before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals Friday seeking several variances to construct a 15-story building and a 10-story building near 14th Street and Wabash Avenue.

According to the zoning board, the 15-story building would have 199 units over retail at 45-59 East 14th Street. The 10-story building would have 62 units over retail at 1419 South Wabash Avenue.

The smaller building would use 36 parking spaces in the taller building’s lot as part of the zoning requests that were approved.
The picture in their article - also posted here - makes it look like it's the vacant lot that 14th dead-ends into.  We're having a hard time deciphering which building is going on which lot.  Does anyone have insight?

(Hat tip:  PS!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Blue Tarps Show-Up at Vacant Retail Space at 1925 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
Anyone know what’s going on here? The building is the old BF Goodrich at 1925 S Michigan Ave nearby La Cantina. Vacant for years. Old historic building across from church.

Here’s 2 pics from outside. For past year and a half the windows were never cleaned and there were old permits posted. Today it looks clean and blue tarps are now hanging with lights on.

Hmmmmm
This is the second person who has asked us about this building.  Does anyone have any scoop?

It is a beautiful building and seems like it would be great for a restaurant or some cool retail.  We can dream right...


(Hat tip: MM & TG!)