Friday, June 29, 2018

Renaming Balbo Drive Hits a Roadblock

Italo Balbo
An interesting, historical read about attempts to change Balbo Drive - a small road in the South Loop  (via Chicago Reader):
Last August, in the wake of the racist violence in Charlottesville, downtown aldermen Sophia King (Second) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) called for renaming Balbo Drive. The street honors Italo Balbo, a leader of the Blackshirts, the paramilitary wing of Italy's National Fascist Party, who later became Mussolini's air commander and governor of colonized Libya. The aldermen blasted Balbo as a brutal racist.
"We have inherited a legacy that honors and memorializes an individual who embraced white supremacy and who was part of the fascist onslaught which sought to take over the world," said Alderman King in a statement at the time. "Balbo is a symbol of racial and ethnic supremacy, and in this day and age we need positive symbols. It's high time we removed these symbols of oppression and anti-democracy from our city."

Last month King and Reilly introduced an ordinance that would have renamed the drive after Ida B. Wells, a former slave, journalist, anti-lynching activist, and woman's suffrage advocate.

But apparently the aldermen no longer feel that honoring a fascist is a problem. In the face of continuing opposition from local Balbo fans, the politicians have abandoned their efforts to rename the street that honors him, according to a report in the Sun-Times. The aldermen are instead now pushing for Congress Drive to be named after Wells. The full City Council is expected to approve the new proposal at Wednesday's meeting, the paper reported.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Chicago Sun-Times "The Grid" Takes a Look at Printers Row

Welcome to “The Grid,” our in-depth look at Chicago’s neighborhoods. Today’s stop: Printers Row.
Printers Row is “pocket” neighborhood between Congress Parkway and Polk Street just minutes from the Chicago Loop. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the area became the Midwest hub of the printing industry with historically significant buildings designed by legendary architects like Daniel Burnham, William Holabird and William Le Baron Jenney. Today, many of those historic buildings remain but the quiet, tree lined streets are now largely residential. Of course, it continues to be a draw for fans of Chicago architecture.

The article goes into more depth and highly suggest a click if you're interested.  Below is a quick info-graphic on the hood as well:

There is also a 13 minute video on the neighborhood as part of the article.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Glessner House Museum Shows Up on Curbed's Most Beautiful Wedding Venues

We're in full wedding season (despite the rain today) and Curbed Chicago has a good post looking at the best wedding venues in the city.  Glessner House in the Sloop is the only placed that registers on the neighborhood (via Curbed):
The Glessner House Museum is one of the city's great surviving examples of the grand mansions built in the Prairie District during Chicago's Gilded Age. And while the interiors with their elaborate finishes and building materials are breathtaking, the mansion's coach house and courtyard space will also impress.

Any other venues people love in the Sloop for a good wedding?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Trying to Read the Tea Leaves on Amazon HQ2 News

Last week news came down that Walgreen's would be the first announced tenant for the refurbished Post Office that straddles Congress Parkway.  While that's big news in and of itself, we also thought it could be a tell on the chances of Amazon coming to Chicago.

Our thinking was that if one of the proposed sites was moving forward without Amazon, maybe the city already knows it fate (aka - Chicago is not getting Amazon).  Well some professional reporters had a similar thought process and asked Rahm a similar question (via Chicago Tribune):
But asked Monday whether Walgreens’ decision to locate 1,800 employees at the old post office in the South Loop takes that building off the table for Amazon, Emanuel offered some insights.

“I don’t want to violate anything with Amazon, so I think when you — know this, let me do it this way so I’m not (violating), I want to be careful,” Emanuel said. “On our original proposal to Amazon we had 10 sites. When they came, they saw five sites. It is our understanding they like, really like, two sites. So let me say that.”
Judging by that comment it seems as if the city is still in the running for Amazon or at least Amazon hasn't tipped its hand to the city yet.

Other recent reports say that Amazon is likely going to make another cut sometime this fall (via
 Amazon has sent “emails to all 20 finalist cities” about the status of the HQ2 process noting that it will be “a couple of months to whittle down the finalist list to around three cities,” WSB-TV says.
So we wait some more...but in the meantime what two sites do you think they "really like"?

If we had to guess it would be:

  • The 78, Related Midwest's 62-acre site along the Chicago River between the South Loop and Chinatown. 
  • Lincoln Yards, Sterling Bay's more than 70-acre site on the river along Lincoln Park and Bucktown.
A wild card would be the former Michael Reese Hospital land on the south side.  While it probably loses points for "not being in the downtown core"  - it's essentially on Lake Michigan which would be an amazing amenity for a corporate campus in our opinion.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Work Continues On House at Polk/Dearborn

A reader writes:
Work on the Dearborn/Polk mansion is stalled? Walls are now being put up.
We assume the reader was referring to another post we had about a month ago when another reader questioned whether or not this project stalled.  Judging by the photo, seems like work is moving ahead as planned.

(Hat tip: AB!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Walgreens Plans to Move into Old Post Office

Pretty big news from last week (via Chicago Tribune):
Walgreens plans to relocate 1,800 employees to Chicago’s former main post office, including 1,300 workers who will move from its north suburban headquarters campus.

The Deerfield-based drugstore giant on Friday confirmed it has leased about 200,000 square feet in the building at 433 W. Van Buren St., a day after the Tribune first reported the deal. Walgreens Boots Alliance said it will move into the massive riverfront building, now known as the Old Post Office, in fall 2019.

In addition to the 1,300 jobs moving from Deerfield, about 500 employees working in a downtown office in the Sullivan Center — the former Carson Pirie Scott building on State Street — will move to the new space. Walgreens will maintain its headquarters in Deerfield, which will house 3,200 employees.

There have been some rumors about this for awhile (see post from Sloopin back in 2014), so it seems like Walgreens has had their eye on this building.  All in all, seems like a pretty good development for the neighborhood if you're an advocate of 'more people means more things to do'.  

The flip side of that is more congestion.  We've been saying this for awhile, but hopefully there are some plans for additional east/west routes (maybe at Taylor?).

Additionally, it appears that Amazon won't be coming to this building - which really doesn't come as a surprise.  Bigger question is whether or not Chicago has any shot at landing Amazon.

Regardless, nice to see some positive movement announced for the Post Office.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Sneaker Shop Coming to Corner of State and Archer

A reader writes:
As someone who loves sneakers this is exciting, not exciting for my wallet since I live next door.

At the corner of State and Archer (1843 S State)a brand new boutique sneaker store is opening soon. Spoke to someone setting the store up today. Looks like it could be opening up soon. Most of the store looked ready to go just have to wait for them to stock the shelves.

Sounds pretty interesting. 

Succezz - at 1329 S. Michigan - has been a staple in the Sloop for just under 10 years so maybe another sneaker store will thrive.  Curious to see how they do and welcome to the neighborhood.

(Hat tip:  BL!)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Head on Over to Half Sour (755 S. Clark) Tonight to Listen to Some Music and Raise Some Funds for a Local Park

Looking for something fun tonight - head on over to Half Sour for a fundraiser for the local Jefferson  Playlot at 1618 S. Jefferson (link to event):

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Another Retail Complex Coming to 1113 S. Jefferson?

More retail coming maybe coming to the Sloop (via Crains):
A Chicago developer is drawing up plans for another big retail project near the Roosevelt Road shopping strip, a cluster of stores and restaurants that has expanded with the South Loop's rising population.

A venture of GW Properties paid $10.4 million for the 77,000-square-foot property at 1113 S. Jefferson St., the site of a Marathon gas station and garage, confirmed GW principal Mitch Goltz.

He said GW plans a three-building retail project on the site, just north of Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen and just west of the Maxwell, a big shopping center that opened a few years ago. Goltz was short on specifics but said GW is already courting tenants for the development and aims to have news about leases over the summer.

We will see.  This area in general has seen a lot of plans come up, but never materialize.  Stay tuned.

(Hat tip: NS!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Can People Put Up Their Own Signs in a Public Park?

A reader writes:
We noticed that someone put up 'please be respectful' sign in the park (on the same wall where someone keeps trying to plant a vegetable garden...) 99% sure this is not any official city sign.

Can people just do that? Put up their own signs in a public park? How does one find out if that's even a real sign?

Looking online it does show that park supposedly has a 'community garden' but that seems impossible considering the layout.

I feel like that park is getting more and more unwelcoming, with people turning it into their living room with cook outs and a TV when the weather is nice, the home made sign on the grass hill about not disturbing the grass, and now the sign stating that dogs are not allowed to to their business on the mulch.

We would assume you can't just put a sign on public property, but then again we doubt the city is going to do much stop inconspicuous things like this.  All that being said...just as equally as they probably shouldn't be doing probably can just take it down if you would like?

(Hat tip:  SL!)

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Saga Continues at River City

River City (image via YoChicago!)
The saga continues at River City (via Crains):
The deal a developer struck in December to pay $100 million for all 448 condos at the River City complex in the South Loop has fallen apart, and the developer made a new offer yesterday to pay $89 million.

That amount is below Marc Realty Capital's offer of $92 million in February 2017, a bid that didn't get enough votes from homeowners. The firm increased its offer to $100 million in August, and in a December vote among homeowners, just over 79 percent of ownership approved the sale.

Under Illinois' condominium law, a bulk sale of all units in a building must be approved by at least 75 percent of ownership. A new offer will have to be put to a vote.

"I bet the vote would fail," River City homeowner Bob Olsen said in an email to Crain's. Olsen and his husband own three units in the building and live in one. "They'll still get the 55 percent to 60 percent who would vote yes at any price," Olsen wrote, but persuading another 20 percent or so to accept the lower price will be a challenge.
We've spent a decent amount of posts on the topic - 2/16/16 or this 8/15/17 or this 8/22/17 or this 12/22/17.

A reader also sent us this note:
Dear Sloopin’,
Remember a post from February, 2016 titled “Deconversion, A cautionary Tale?” That letter from one of your readers accurately predicted the future for River City owners exactly. At the end of 2017, after 2-1/2 years of relentless pursuit by Marc Realty, and 3 separate votes on “final offer” prices, River City Owners voted to accept a $100 million offer from Marc to sell the residential portion of the building that was due to close at the end of June 2018. Owners were even encouraged to sign closing documents in May to prepare for the closing. Some owners made arrangements to purchase other properties. On the day before Memorial Day weekend, the owners’ lawyers received a letter from Marc stating that they were not going to close on the purchase. They are subsequently demanding a reduction of more than 10% in the purchase price. After nearly 3 years of uncertainty, Marc has demanded a price cut at the exact time where a lot of owners have no choice except to agree to it. Another (fourth) vote will be necessary to approve the change in sale price and passage is far from sure, so River City owners have more months of uncertainty regarding their homes and property, all thanks to the lies and unethical behavior of Marc Realty.

A fed-up River City owner

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The 2018 Printers Row Lit Fest Starts Today

One of our favorite events in the Sloop starts today.  Here is a link to Readers write-up and how they start the article:
It's time once again for the Printers Row Lit Fest, which combines three of the greatest pleasures in life: walking, talking about books, and the serendipitous discovery of new books (sometimes at incredible prices). The fest goes on all weekend in the south Loop near the intersection of Dearborn and Polk with events inside Jones College Prep (700 S. State).

The article goes on to recommend a variety of events.  The one that looked most interesting to us was:
Young Chicago Authors: Louder Than a Bomb showcase, noon Chance the Rapper was part of YCA when he was a teenager. So was Eve Ewing. And Jamila Woods. And Femdot. Come see what the next wave of young Chicago poets is up to.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Tea Pot Brew Bakery Coming to SW Corner of 18th/Wabash?

Remember our post from mid-May talking about a potential coffee shop coming to the small building on the SW corner of 18th and Wabash?

Well we recently read another piece of new news on the topic (via Eater Chicago and Prairie District Alliance):
SOUTH LOOP— There’s a business license for Tea Pot Brew Bakery at 1802 S. Wabash Avenue. The Prairie District Alliance Facebook page noticed the news. There’s no more info available at the moment.

A bakery?  Is it really a bakery?  There has always been a clamoring for some fresh bread products in the Sloop...maybe this is it.

(Hat tip:  TB!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Another Apartment Building Unveiled for the Sloop - This Time at SW Corner of Harrison and Wells

And the buildings keep on coming....(via curbed):
Chicago’s booming South Loop could soon welcome yet another apartment project, this time in the form of twin 14-story towers slated for the southwest corner of Wells and Harrison streets.
Known officially as Alta Grand Central, the development revealed its name and a single rendering via a new Instagram account late last week, first spotted by construction blog Building Up Chicago. Prior to that, the unnamed project was listed on May’s agenda of Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), as reported by Crain’s.
It seems crazy how much is being built...we will see soon if the demand is there. 

Regardless, we're big proponents of development as it fuels the cycle of growth in the neighborhood - buildings > people > restaurants > etc. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

City Looking to Cash-in on Big Lot on Clark Street Behind Police Station

Looks like the city is realizing that they're sitting on a nice piece of property and is ready to cash in (via Crain's):
As the city of Chicago fosters big new developments around the South Loop and Near South Side, it's also hoping to piggyback on them to boost its own coffers.

That's the idea behind the 2.4-acre parking lot at 1701 S. Clark St., which the city recently put on the market. The lot is used by the Chicago Police Department's 1st District.

Marketed by brokerage Cushman & Wakefield as a potential development site, the parcel is just a couple of blocks from the 62 acres of vacant land along the south branch of the Chicago River where developer Related Midwest plans a massive mixed-use project featuring as many as 10,000 new homes.

A few blocks southeast of the CPD lot, the city is vying to transform the neighborhood around McCormick Place into an entertainment district anchored by Wintrust Arena, which opened last fall.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mysterious Art Instillation Appears on Clark Street

A reader writes:
On Thursday this popped up on Clark just a few feet from the makeshift memorial for the shooting that happened this week. No plaque or signage or anything. It’s metal and heavy, and bolted into the cement of the sidewalk.
It’s sorta right outside the door of the art gallery above Palmer Printing so I guess maybe it’s related to them, but that building is being replaced pretty soon. Any idea? Another possibility is that it’s for Printers Row Lit Fest but that usually doesn’t come up Clark.

(Hat tip: AD!)