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.