Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Alderman Dowell Says One Central is Too Much


Last week developers unveiled an ambitious plan to build over the train tracks just west of Lake Shore Drive and Soldier Field.  Just a week after the neighborhood meeting, Alderman Dowell has unsurprisingly come back that changes are needed (via Chicago Tribune):
The multibillion-dollar plan led by Wisconsin-based developer Bob Dunn created a buzz of excitement, but also raised concerns after neighbors saw conceptual renderings of a row of dramatic towers just west of Lake Shore Drive, between McCormick Place and the Field Museum.
Dunn has only offered broad strokes so no one knows how tall the skyscrapers would be nor the total amount of space that would be built. Nevertheless, 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell, who hosted last week’s community meeting for the One Central project, is already saying it’s too much. She seeks reductions in building height and density on the 34-acre site that would use air rights over Metra train tracks.

While revisions to a vague conceptual presentation was unavoidable and 100% necessary, the one piece that stuck out in the article we read on the Tribune has us scratching our heads:
Yet the plan faces many of the same hurdles the other megadevelopments have encountered — including neighbors’ objections to having their view of Lake Michigan blocked.
The article provides this additional perspective on the views:
Neighbors who attended the presentation had mixed reactions.
“I was really blown away by what I saw,” said Tina Feldstein, president of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance neighborhood group. “The idea that there could be a transportation hub of that caliber, right here on the lakefront, is not only a boom for this area but also for the city.”

Feldstein described the plan to connect many of Chicago’s top tourist attractions along the lake to public transportation as “50 years overdue.” She also said she was encouraged by the developer’s willingness to try to create a new high school on the site.

But Feldstein acknowledged One Central’s potential to obscure or fully block lake views in many nearby towers is a big drawback.

“I feel their pain that their views are going to be obstructed, even though they knew one day it would come,” Feldstein said. “There were a large number of people at the meeting who were hurting.”
While we understand the pity for the people with views, it's a reality of city living.  Views aren't a right and aren't guaranteed - despite what your real estate agent says.

We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Water Taxi Service Up and Floating for 2019 Season


While many assume the green Chicago river is in honor of St. Patrick's day, it's actually done to signal "go" for the Chicago Water Taxi service - which also started this past weekend (via NBC):
Chicago’s iconic water taxis will be back in service beginning this weekend, the Wendella company announced this week.

Beginning on Saturday, March 16, the taxis will run seven days a week through the month of December. The taxis will make stops at five different Chicago locations, including Ogilvie/Union in the West Loop, Michigan Avenue, River North, the Riverwalk, and Chinatown.
While most of the stops are not in our neighborhood, there is one in Chinatown for those of you who live towards the south end of the Sloop.

Finally - obviously we're kidding about the river being green.  That has nothing to do with the water taxi's and was likely a coincidence this year :)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring Brings New Opportunities Here at Sloopin

Hello Sloopsters!

Spring is in the air (sort of).  It's a time of new beginnings, blossoming flowers and hopefully us being able to step outside without giant coats on.

For Sloopin, we're using the season as inspiration to re-evaluate some opportunities, make some changes and explore an evolution in our site.

With that said, we're posting an open invitation to our readers to provide suggestions, ideas and/or think about helping us out. 

We're also exploring partnership opportunities.  If you're a local real estate agent/business or a local business that's heavily invested in the area please send us a note if you're interested in discussing some potential partnership ideas (sloopin@gmail.com).

Thanks for all the support and looking forward to hearing from you.

The Sloopin Crew 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Verizon Turning on 5G Network in the Sloop on April 11th

5G is supposed to revolutionize our life, so if you're a technophile in the Sloop you may want to know this (via USA Today):
Verizon is finally ready to start turning on its mobile 5G network, and tapping into it won't cost a lot more than current 4G LTE.
The nation's largest carrier announced that it will be turning on its mobile 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11, with owners of its first 5G-capable phone, the Moto Z3, being able to tap into the network through a separate $50 accessory.

Labeling their network "5G ultra wideband," the new service will cost $10 more per month than the company's existing 4G LTE service for unlimited data.
So what's the tie to the Sloop?  Well it's one of the neighborhoods who will have access to the new network upon roll-out:
According to the Verizon's website for the 5G moto mod, Chicago service will initially be "concentrated in The Loop, specifically areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks such as Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre."
Coverage in the area will also extend to the Verizon store on "The Magnificent Mile, and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

New Transit Center & Huge High-Rises Proposed for Air Rights Over Train Tracks West of Soldier Field

Wowsa!  (via Chicago Tribune):
Chicago’s skyline could extend all the way south to McCormick Place, under a multibillion-dollar development plan unveiled Wednesday that would create a row of gleaming skyscrapers atop a massive new transit center.

The preliminary plan, led by Wisconsin-based developer Bob Dunn, envisions millions of square feet of high-rises constructed on a platform covering Metra tracks above the level of Lake Shore Drive. The site runs just west of Lake Shore Drive between the Field Museum and McCormick.

The centerpiece of the development would be a transit center southwest of Soldier Field, across Lake Shore Drive. It would link Metra, CTA and Amtrak trains, as well as a wheeled tram route, topped by a few floors of restaurant, retail and entertainment space.

Skyscrapers would be built around and atop the transit center.
The amazing thing about this proposal is how it's ambition sits within a crowded field of multi-billion dollar developments:
Chicago is already a decade into a development boom, with several planned megadevelopments along the Chicago River, such as Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards and Related Midwest’s The 78, much closer to the starting line. It’s unclear how many multibillion-dollar projects the commercial real estate market can support, or whether the economy will hold up long enough for at least some of them to be completed in the current cycle.

Adding to the complexity is the pending exit of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and uncertainty about the next mayor’s interest in such large-scale development.
In our estimation, it's hard to see how this becomes a reality for all the reasons stated in the blurb above.  It just doesn't feel like Chicago - let alone the Sloop - has enough demand for something like this.

That being said, the one thing this proposal has that none of the others do is an amazing piece of land (or should we say air).  To build this close to Soldier Field and museum campus would provide unrivaled "neighborhood amenities".

Many of us already love the Sloop because of our proximity to these cultural treasures, imagine if there was more development even closer.

Probably the most interesting component of the whole plan is the transit center.  This would like be a critical component for the development to move forward.  To have this much development would require easier access for the broader swatch of the city.  That's why it makes sense that every train line in the metropolitan area of Chicago is mentioned as being incorporated to the plan.

So...what do you think?  What percent chance do you give this one to be built?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Italian Restaurant - Giglio's - Coming to 825 S. State

A reader writes:
Looks like we having a new restaurant coming to sloop. I hope it does better than the last one.


As a reminder this restaurant space was originally Jimmy Green's.  That bar/restaurant had a 7-year run.

Quickly after that, Pazzo's opened in 2017, but abruptly closed down in late 2018.

Here's to hoping Giglio's has a bit of a better run.

(Hat tip: MC!)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bald Eagle Seen Soaring Through the Sloop

Well this is pretty cool (via Sun Times):
David Lakauskas was taking a break in his South Loop office when he saw an unusually large bird flying by his window.

“In the corner of my eye I noticed something was not right,” he said. When he realized it was a “special bird,” he grabbed his camera.

Lakauskas was able to capture video of a bald eagle flying around his office building, at 329 West 18th Street, with about 10 seagulls following it.

So why were the seagulls following?  Two theories:
“Anytime there’s a big raptor around, other birds take notice. Most birds are fairly territorial so if an eagle comes by, gulls are going to mob it, harass it and try and get it to leave because if an eagle is there they’re all of a sudden at the bottom of the food chain,” he said.
Another possibility is that gulls were following the eagle to try and get a free meal.

“Gulls tend to be crafty when it comes to feeding,” he said. “If an eagle’s nearby … gulls will let a more competent raptor do the work of catching the fish or catching the duck and then once the prey has been captured, gulls will mob the raptor.”

If you're a fan of this here blog, you probably know we have a thing for birds in this neighborhood.  We even have a Peregrine Falcon named after it!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Eater Chicago Checks-in at Three South Loop Jewish Delis

The Sloop is blessed with three distinctly different places that serve variations of "Jewish Deli".  Yeah, let that sink it for a sec.

The good peeps at Eater Chicago take a look at the Jewish Deli scene and check in at our spots:
Half Sour (755 S. Clark)While it doesn’t offer staples such as blintzes and kasha varnishkes, it’s impossible to deny Half Sour’s strong Jewish deli influence. Since its opening in 2018, the Printer’s Row spot smokes its own pastrami, ferments its own pickles, and makes fresh bagels every morning. In addition to latkes with apple sauce, corned beef sandwiches, and bowls of matzo ball soup; Half Sour brought deli-inspired dishes into 2019 with hip menu items like pastrami chili, smoked salmon dip with everything spice crackers, and even Sephardi-style fried artichokes.
Eleven City Diner (1112 S. Wabash)The Eleven City Diner’s remaining Chicago location, after closing its Lincoln Park restaurant, is thriving. The massive South Loop space serves breakfast all day, plus tons of Jewish standards like turkey pastrami, corned beef, knishes, and so much lox. In addition, the menu has trendy “health” options like Impossible burgers, a quinoa scramble bowl, many ice cream and soda fountain treats, Mexican-inspired chilaquiles, various burgers, and a whole section of loaded mac and cheese. Eleven City also opened a Los Angeles location in 2019.
Manny's (1141 S. Jefferson)Manny’s is the last Jewish deli seemingly everyone in Chicago knows. The cafeteria has a 75-year history with the city, from its humble beginning opened by Russian immigrants on Van Buren and Halsted to its landmark status as a generations-owned establishment on South Jefferson. The menu is traditional Jewish fare and the portions are massive. It’s one of the few places left in the city eaters can still order matzo brie, kishke, and kasha and noodles, all in one sitting. For ex-Chicagoans missing a taste of home, Manny’s can now be delivered nationwide via Tastes of Chicago.

A Deeper Look at the Massive Delays of the Jane Bryne Interchange Construction Project


Damn this project (via ChicagoTribune):
If all had gone as planned, the remake of the Jane Byrne Interchange could have been done by now.

Instead, drivers continue to face snarled traffic, closed lanes and bountiful construction signs at the juncture of the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways west of the Loop, the effects of a construction project that will take at least another 3½ years and will cost at least $170 million more than expected.

It wasn’t just one problem that caused this to happen, the Tribune found, but a series of issues that contributed to unforeseen delays, conflicts over who was to blame and a price tag that is now $713 million, a third higher than the original estimate of $535.5 million.

While drivers are bearing the brunt of it, the problems have extended to the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago campus where a building had sunk and shifted, state records show.
The biggest pain for the Sloop is that 2 of the biggest east/west arteries for the neighborhood have been closed for awhile.  Damn. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Lobo Rey is Now The Lobo Canteen in Move to Focus More on Their Bar


Looks like Lobo Rey is evolving (via Eater):
Changes come to the Scout owners’ South Loop Mexican spot
The owners of popular South Loop sports bar the Scout recently closed their neighboring Mexican restaurant Lobo Rey temporarily for cosmetic and menu changes and reopened it as more of a bar. Its Facebook page is now named the Lobo Canteen and new menu items include an avocado daiquiri, Mexican pizzas, and Tex-Mex chicken wings. Stay tuned to see if the changes lead to more success.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Progress at FBRK - Communal Working/Social Space at 2222 S. Michigan

We were recently down in the Motor Row entertainment district and snapped a pic of the beautiful, but old Hudson Motor Building at 2222 S. Michigan:


As you'll see in the windows, space is available for lease.  All the way on the right, you will also see the branding for FBRK.  If you're wondering what that is, here a blurb from our post back in May 2018:
The vision for the 92-year-old facility, which would be known as FBRK (prounounced "fabric"), has shades of co-working like WeWork and membership clubs like Soho House. The anchor of the five-story project would be 40,000 square feet of office space for members, including private offices, open workspace and conference rooms.
Another 100,000 square feet would feature a gym, barbershop, restaurants and a pool designed to allow members to "live together and work together and socialize and get their work done in one space," Idonije said. "The notion is ultimately that well-rounded people build well-rounded, balanced companies."
If this materializes how it's envisioned, it could be a huge win for the area.  Here is a rendering of what they're hoping for:

Friday, March 1, 2019

New 24-Story Rental Building on Wabash Adds to Density of Motor Row Entertainment Area


More action on the development front near Cermak (via Curbed):
The South Loop apartment boom is adding another project to the mix as developer Draper and Kramer officially breaks ground on a 24-story rental building at northeast corner of Wabash Avenue and Cermak Road.

Known by its address of 2111 S. Wabash, the 275-unit development includes ground floor retail and 88-car parking podium topped by a glassy tower with an angular “sawtooth” facade. The design creates great views in all directions as well as a “prismatic effect in which the light will constantly change the appearance of the building depending on the time of day,” said architect John Lahey of firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz in a statement.

Announced back in 2015, Draper and Kramer’s plan for 2111 S. Wabash originally included a mix of roughly 250 apartments and 144 hotel rooms. The project later dropped the hotel component and increased the number of residential units to 275 when it earned city approval the following year.
Judging by the picture above, it looks like the development might come all the way to Cermak (the construction fencing extends to Cermak).

However, the rendering below makes it seem like it isn't.  Anyone have some perspective here?



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

FYI: TIF for The 78 Cleared the Chicago Plan Commission Last Week

In case you missed it last week, the proposed TIF for the 78 cleared a major hurdle (via Crains):
The fate of two proposed tax-increment financing districts that would earmark as much as $2.4 billion in public money to fuel a pair of megadevelopments on the city's North Side and in the South Loop is now in the hands of the Chicago City Council.
The Chicago Plan Commission today approved the proposed TIF districts, meant to help finance infrastructure projects that would pave the way for developer Sterling Bay's $6 billion Lincoln Yards project along the North Branch of the Chicago River and Related Midwest's $7 billion vision for a mixed-use campus known as the 78 between Roosevelt Road and Chinatown.

The OK from the mayor-appointed board clears the way for both proposed TIF districts to potentially go before the City Council's Finance Committee and the full City Council next month. If both are passed, it would grease the skids for the developers to move forward with two of the most ambitious megaprojects in the city's history.

In case you're curious what the TIF may entail here you go:
In the South Loop, the proposed Roosevelt/Clark TIF for the 78 site could reimburse up to $700 million, with $600 million of that dedicated to public infrastructure projects such as new street grid, bridges and a new CTA Red Line station at the corner of Clark and 15th streets. The TIF budget also estimates as much as $400 million in developer financing costs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"Tent City" in the Sloop Could be Shutdown

Some news on the tent city in the Sloop (via Sun-Times):
Advocates for the homeless community are concerned that a planned street cleaning scheduled for next week at the site of a “Tent City” in the South Loop could lead to the shut down of the encampment, which lies on state-supported property.
Attorney Diane O’Connell, of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said she fears that the street cleaning — which comes after a shooting on the property — could be used to force the homeless population out of the grassy embankment along the expressway near the 700 block of West Taylor.

Marjani Williams, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Sanitation, confirmed that city workers posted signs this week announcing the cleaning.

City and state official wouldn’t say whether the homeless population would be pushed out of the area during Monday’s cleaning.

“The state should not punish people for being homeless,” O’Connell told the Sun-Times. “The people who live in this location are struggling and forcing them to disperse would cause further harm.”

Monday, February 25, 2019

1001 South State's Neighborhood Book Drive Starts March 2nd

Sponsored Post

Whether you want to put more positive energy out into the universe or you just finished binge watching a certain Netflix series that has you itching to "tidy up," you won't want to miss 1001 South State's upcoming neighborhood book drive benefiting Open Books.

In honor of Read Across America Day, the South Loop property’s book drive runs from Saturday, March 2 through Sunday, March 10.

"The South Loop neighborhood is a community that supports creative endeavors and innovative thinking - two values at the core of our culture here at 1001," says property manager Tracy Braun. "Partnering with Open Books is a natural fit for our residents and our neighbors.”

With a mission to provide literacy experiences for tens of thousands of readers each year, Open Books takes the donated books they receive and either gives them away through their literacy and book grant programs or sells them, using the proceeds to fund the organization’s literacy programs.

“Our residents include designers, entrepreneurs, art students, and more,” continues Braun. “We want to give back to the community in a way that helps the next generation of creative minds. We know that providing access to books is an effective and exciting way to do that."

To make your book donation, stop by the 1001 South State lobby anytime between 10 am and 5 pm on March 2 through March 10. The entrance is located at 1001 S. State Street between Bulldog Alehouse and Orangetheory Fitness.

Open Books welcomes donations of fiction, nonfiction, craft books, cookbooks, children’s books and more!

Ad Agency Becomes 4th Tenant at New Post Office

Looks like the new Post Office is getting its fourth tenant (via Tribune):
AbelsonTaylor is moving to Chicago’s former old main post office, giving the advertising agency room to add 100 or more employees.

The Chicago-based agency becomes the fourth office tenant to lease space in the 2.8 million-square-foot building that is being redeveloped by 601W Cos.

The riverfront behemoth at 433 W. Van Buren St. has been vacant since 1996, but it’s set to reopen as one of Chicago’s largest office buildings later this year. It is now called The Old Post Office.

AbelsonTaylor signed a 15-year lease for about 85,000 square feet, president and CEO Dale Taylor said. By March 2020, the agency will move from its current offices at 33 W. Monroe St., he said.
The entire building is 2.8 million square feet and with this lease they're now at 407K square feet leased.  So there is a lot of room left, although the article says the leasing agents are actively negotiating another 400K square feet of leases.

Will be interesting to see what other businesses make the move to the historic building.

Friday, February 22, 2019

New Megadevelopment Proposed for the Air Space over the Metra Tracks in the Sloop

Crains has the scoop on latest plans to build a super ambitious development over the Metra tracks west of Soldier Field:
Even as city officials weigh other proposed megadevelopment deals in and near downtown, a Wisconsin developer who played a key role in building Ford Field in Detroit and rebuilding Lambeau Field in Green Bay is pitching another: a multibillion-dollar plan to deck over Metra Electric rail tracks west of Soldier Field to build a mix of residential, office and retail space.
Several sources close to the matter say a partnership headed by Wisconsin executive Bob Dunn has briefed City Hall and other officials on plans, set to be officially unveiled next month, to build over 34 acres of Metra Electric tracks and storage facilities just west of South Lake Shore Drive, from McFetridge Drive south to roughly 20th Street.

Air rights to build over the tracks were acquired more than 20 years ago by developer Gerald Fogelson, who built the huge Central Station residential complex just to the north, south and east of Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue. Fogelson had hoped to develop the adjacent air-rights property himself as a sort of a Central Station 2.0, and as late as 2015 he was looking for a partner, describing then a $3 billion long-term plan with 3,000 apartments and 500 hotel rooms.

As the Crain's article notes, this isn't the first time plans like these have been floated.

While it would be great to have something cover-up the train tracks and presumably provide more/better access to Soldier Field and the Museum Campus, it seems like a highly challenging project - especially given all the other stuff popping up in the Sloop and city.

The article says that Alderman Dowell is planning to present the proposal at a public meeting on March 13th.  So we will see how far a long this thing is.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen Registers as One of Chicago's 20 Most Iconic Dishes

If you thought iconic Chicago food establishments, would you think any places in the Sloop would register?  According to Eater, we've got one - and it's probably not shocking:
11. Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen
Corned Beef Sandwich: Manny's is the stuff that legends are made of, so folks should sink their teeth into its famous corned beef.

Another spot that we wouldn't qualify in the Sloop, but is very close is:
12. Jim's Original Hot Dog (1250 S. Union Ave - just west of 90/94)
Maxwell Street Polish: While hot dogs get all the glory, the Maxwell Street Polish — a kielbasa topped with mustard, grilled onions, and sport peppers — quietly satisfies Chicagoans.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rafael Viñoly Talks About "Framing" Grant Park with NEMA

If you're an architecture buff, you probably know Rafael Viñoly.  If not, that's ok because you're about to (via Curbed):

The building is almost topped off and it certainly is a looming structure over the neighborhood.  How it will look when it's finally done will be interesting.  One of our favorite things is the trees on each terrace.  We're curious to see if those actually happen.  Would be cool to have green elements that high up in the city.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Amazon Spurns New York ; Emanuel & Pritzker Publicly Sell "The 78" as an Alternatve

Shocking news yesterday as Amazon officially broke up with Long Island City on Valentines days.  What's even more interesting is that our officials are eagerly and openly pitching "The 78" as the solution (via Crains):
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. J.B. Pritzker are moving quickly to try to take advantage of Amazon’s decision to drop plans to open a second headquarters in New York, asking the company to “take another look at Chicago.”
In a joint letter today addressed to “Dear Amazon,” Emanuel and Pritzker said whatever happened in the Big Apple, “We want to assure you that Chicago, our surrounding communities and the state of Illinois remain ready to welcome HQ2 to our city, and to ensure a smooth and successful transition and launch.”

The letter notes there is “new leadership the governor’s office” and asserts “new commitment to bipartisanship” supports economic development.

“You have seen firsthand that the Chicago area meets or exceeds your business needs,” the letter states, adding that since Amazon execs visited here last year, zoning and other approvals for its preferred site, the South Loop megaproject known as the 78, at Clark and Roosevelt, has proceeded and that groundbreaking is set “shortly after” final legislative approval in April.
Before you get to excited (or mad depending on your perspective), Amazon has said they have no intentions of re-opening the search (via Tribune):
Amazon said Thursday it will continue to build offices in Arlington, Va., and Nashville, Tenn. It also plans to continue growing its 17 tech hubs, one of which is in Chicago.
Since announcing plans to locate in New York City, the company has received backlash from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the tax incentives Amazon was promised and the company’s stance on unions.
The company already employs more than 12,000 people in Illinois. They work at fulfillment centers, campus pick-up locations, the research and development tech hub, and other sites. Of those employees, about 300 work in the Chicago tech hub.

The company doesn’t know yet where the growth that was supposed to happen in New York City will move to, Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Smith said in an email Thursday.

“It will be organic,” she wrote.
Organic doesn't sound like a company looking to plop 25,000 jobs on a metro.  Additionally we imagine that Amazon doesn't want to go through such a controversial public spectacle like the one that unfolded in New York.  To be fair, they brought this on themselves, so don't go crying for the richest man on earth and his company that is incredibly valuable company.

But...there is a sliver of an opportunity here.  We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Look Back at Motor Rows History - from Cars to Records

The Suntimes recently had a nice write-up on the history of Motor Row and how the area has changed dramatically over the past century:
Chicago’s one-time automotive destination, Motor Row, hasn’t weathered time as well as its counterparts, like the Magnificent Mile or Jewelers Row, and the role the city once played in the American auto industry is also often overlooked.
“It’s been overshadowed by other industries — meatpacking, railroads, and steel,” said Peter Alter, a curator at the Chicago History Museum. “Many people don’t realize that Chicago was once filled with these elaborate palaces of automobile consumption in the post-World War I era.”

Detroit looms large in the American imagination as the capital of the car manufacturing world, but Motor City and Chicago’s Motor Row were inextricably linked for the first three decades of the 20th century. The automobile shopping corridor on the Near South Side was the industry’s largest and most prominent public face and helped rev up America’s love affair with the car.
The article gives a nod to the future, but that's not really the meat of this article.  Regardless, it's a good read if you're interested in the history of Michigan Avenue south of Roosevelt.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Chicago Officials Reach Out to Amazon in Light of Report that the Retailer is Reconsidering Plans in NYC

So you're telling me their is chance (via Chicago Tribune):
Chicago and Illinois officials reached out to Amazon on Friday in a renewed effort to win a 25,000-job campus that would serve as part of the tech behemoth’s second headquarters.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker called Amazon and made “a full-throated pitch” this morning, according to a source from his administration. A City Hall source confirmed the city reached out as well.

The move followed a report from The Washington Post, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns, that opposition from local politicians has caused Amazon to reconsider its plan to bring the campus to New York City.

Amazon has not yet leased or purchased office space for the campus in New York City, and final approval of state incentives is not expected until 2020, the Post reported.
Don't hold your breath, but at least there is a chance?

As a reminder, it was widely assumed and reported that Amazon was very warm on the South Loop's "78" site.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Totto's Market Coming to New Retail Space in the Heart of Printers Row

There has been a lot of discussion around the urban mansion being built at the corner of Dearborn and Polk.  One thing that was part of the mystery was what (if anything) was coming to the first floor retail space.

Well it appears we have an answer:

A reader also wrote:
Just found out Totto’s Market is opening in Dearborn and Polk this spring.
Link: http://www.tottosmarket.com/

From the owner via Facebook Hello South Loop:

My name is Scott Perin. I'm the owner of (soon-to-be-opened) Totto's Market.

I've lived in Printer's Row for over 14 years and I'm super excited to bring a neighborhood specialty market to the corner of Dearborn + Polk.

Totto's Market will focus on prepared meals to-go, as well as fresh produce, local bread/pastry, dairy, frozen, beer/wine, floral, and other surprises for you!

We plan to open in late spring. I invite you to sign up for updates at www.tottosmarket.com. I look forward to welcoming you (and all neighbors) to Totto's!

Fun Fact: Totto's is named after my father, Allen "Totto" Perin, who works for a small grocery chain in the northern suburbs. He's worked there for over 60 years!!
If done well, this could be a great addition to the neighborhood.  Looking to forward to seeing this one.   

(Hat tip: AD, RS, CD!)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saturday, February 9, 2019

New High-Rises Everywhere in the Sloop!

Yesterday it was Hotel Essex, today the Tribune looks at three other high-rises dotting the South Loop skyline.  Two of them (Nema and Paragon) are almost done.  Another one (1000M) hasn't broken ground yet, but would be a striking addition if it does.  You can read the write-ups of each high-rise at the following link.

Instead of posting about the buildings, we're zeroing in on the preamble about how great the Sloop is:
Three new gleaming residential towers in the South Loop are changing the city’s skyline and offering potential residents a few more options.
Tommy Choi, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors, said the South Loop’s recent building boom is thanks to its convenient location and relative affordability compared with some of the city’s newly trendy neighborhoods. Proximity to transportation thoroughfares, Grant and Millennium parks, and cultural activities all make for an environment appealing to buyers, renters and developers.

“Here’s the great thing about South Loop — it’s always been an iconic neighborhood,” Choi said. “The North Side of Michigan Avenue gets deemed the Magnificent Mile because of all the high-end retail that’s there, but when you look south of Randolph, I think it’s more the Cultural Mile — you’re close to theaters, parks, museums, and you have all the world-class restaurants, retail and shopping that the city has to offer.”

Choi remembers the South Loop having some growing pains after the housing market crash and Chicago’s lost bid for the 2016 Olympics, but now he sees a spike in demand. He said the South Loop took advantage of “spillage” from the West Loop when people started getting priced out of what he calls one of, if not the most popular, markets in the city.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Hotel Essex Nears April 1st Opening and Provides New Info on Bar and Restaurant


The Sloop is getting close to gaining an interesting hotel concept on Michigan Avenue (via Chicago Tribune):
Developers have unveiled new details — and an opening date — for a roughly $250 million project that includes the transformation of the old Essex Inn into a “luxury lifestyle hotel” in the South Loop.

The new Hotel Essex, 800 S. Michigan Ave., is scheduled to start checking in overnight guests April 1, nearly a year after the Essex Inn was shuttered for a gut rehab.

The landmark building’s iconic rooftop sign and steel-and-glass facade will remain, but the interior is in the final stages of being transformed into a more upscale hotel that puts a fresh spin on the building’s midcentury modern roots, said John Rutledge, CEO of Chicago-based Oxford Hotels & Resorts, which will manage the property.
Back in 2014, we were cautiously optimistic that this property could bring something unique to the neighborhood - a trendy vibe.  Whether that's a bar or a restaurant, or just clientele.  Speaking of which here is a description of the space we're most interested in:
In an interesting use of shared space, the hotel’s bilevel lounge, SX Sky Bar, occupies the fifth and sixth floors of the adjacent Essex on the Park apartment complex. The lounge’s retractable glass walls showcasing views of the lake can be opened during the warmer months.

Hotel guests and the public enter the lounge on the sixth floor, where small plates and craft cocktails will be served at lunch, dinner and in the later hours. A staircase leads down to a “tech-inspired” dance floor and smaller spaces that can be rented for private events.

While SX Sky Bar is in the apartment tower, the latter has its own fleet of private amenities — outdoor fire pits and cabanas, an indoor pool, fitness center, lounge areas and more — available only to apartment tenants.

SX Sky Bar is designed along the lines of multilevel hangouts that have become popular with both locals and visitors in other Oxford-run hotels in Chicago, such as I|O at The Godfrey and LH at LondonHouse.
The skeptical person in us questions whether or not the neighborhood is going to make good use of this.  The optimistic person says if you build they will come.  We'll have to check back on this once it's officially up and running.

There was a lot to like in this article and our favorite one was the news that the restaurant is in fact going to be a French Bistro by the LM restaurant group:
A ground-floor area straddling the hotel and apartment building will be the site of the new Grant Park Bistro, a modern French grill from Chicago-based LM Restaurant Group that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, along with weekend brunch.
The bistro takes the place of the former Brasserie by LM, which closed in early 2016 after four years at 800 S. Michigan Ave.

“When we bought the Essex Inn, we cut a deal with them to close down as we were redeveloping the space,” Rutledge said about the eatery. “We then cut a new deal with them to come back with a reinvented, even more upscale concept once we opened.”

The bistro’s menu will lean heavily on grilled meats and vegetables, as well as charcuterie and French cheeses. The 40-seat dining room looks into the open kitchen. A 26-seat bar area sits next to a cafe. In the summer, an outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 40 diners will line Michigan Avenue.
Call us shocked!  When we originally heard about the plans for the hotel and the closure of the restaurant we thought there was no way it was coming back.  Fast forward four years and the LM restaurant group is still involved (albeit in a more "upscale" manner).

This is pretty exciting for the neighborhood.  Hope it lives up to the hype!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

31 Story High-rise at 717 S. Clark is on the Fast Track

Looks like this is happening (via Curbed Chicago):
A new apartment tower is ready to quietly break ground at 717 S. Clark Street in downtown’s Printer’s Row neighborhood. The high-rise project received the all-clear to begin work on its foundation and first four levels, according to a recently issued construction permit.
The development will rise 31 floors—two more than the 29-story tower presented at last month’s 4th Ward town hall meeting hosted by Alderman Sophia King. Meanwhile, the amount of on-site parking has increased substantially from 96 to 192 spaces, according to information listed on the permit.

The number of residential units will remain at 349—one shy of triggering a review by the city. By staying below 350 apartments, the proposed development was able to move forward “as of right” without having to wait for a zoning change.
A couple weeks back we learned about this development and it appears it's in the fast lane.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Alderman Candidate Believes TIF Vote for The 78 Needs to Slow Down

Another day another piece on the 78.  This time some (warranted?) political posturing (via Chicago Tribune):
A candidate seeking to succeed Ald. Danny Solis in the City Council says Solis’ cooperation with federal investigators means the city should pump the brakes on a public subsidy to support a massive project south of the Loop that’s at the top of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s to-do list before he leaves office.

Alex Acevedo said the Community Development Commission shouldn’t vote this week to recommend a tax increment financing district worth up to $700 million for the project dubbed The 78 on a 62-acre former rail yard site on the Chicago River between the South Loop and Chinatown.

The land is in Solis’ 25th Ward, and Acevedo said anything Solis touched is tainted in light of reports he secretly recorded conversations with fellow Ald. Edward Burke after federal investigators confronted Solis with evidence of his own alleged misdeeds.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Related Midwest Unveils Tweaked Plans for New CTA Red Line Stop at 15th and Clark

In case you missed it last week, Alderman Dowell held another community meeting to hear how Related Midwest tweaked their plan for a new CTA stop in the South Loop (via Crains):
The developer aiming to turn 62 acres of vacant South Loop land into a sprawling mixed-use campus is closer to winning the support of one local alderman after relocating its plan for a CTA Red Line station that would serve its project.

After 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell rejected Related Midwest's plan last month to put a station at the southeast corner of 15th and Clark streets, the developer presented a revised version last night that moves the station across the street, where it would become a crucial access point for a 13 million-square-foot megadevelopment Related has dubbed "the 78."

Under the tweaked plan, Related would build the station on the ground floor of a building it would develop at the southwest corner of Clark and 15th streets. The underground platform for the station would cut diagonally beneath Clark Street, running from the station house northeast to the southern edge of 15th Street, plans show.

After the meeting, Dowell stopped short of offering her full support for the new plan but commended Related Midwest for responding well to community feedback.

The plan still has a ways to go, but this was definitely a positive development for Related Midwest and this high-profile "78" project.

If you're really interested in listening to the community meeting you can head over to Hello South Loop as they streamed it in its entirety on Facebook Live.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pacific Garden Mission Opens its Doors During Polar Vortex

From CBS2:
As temperatures plunged to dangerous wind chills Tuesday night in Chicago, a man in a wheelchair pulled up to the doors of Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter that was already filled well beyond capacity with people seeking comfort from the deadly elements of the night.
Although the shelter had surpassed its capacity more than trifold, the man was quickly welcomed inside. He spent the night Tuesday feeling warm and well-fed along with around 800 other homeless men, women and children who sought refuge at the shelter, which is the largest in the city.

Pacific Garden’s president, Philip Kwiatkowski, said the man had been trying to navigate the icy sidewalks in his wheelchair and somehow made his way to the shelter on his own.
“He showed up with nowhere to go and we took him in,” Kwiatowski said.

Usually Pacific Gardens houses people for up to 30 days while they ease them back into society with support finding a job and getting access to other resources needed to sustain independence.

But this week, those rules were tossed aside and anyone was welcomed inside–no questions asked.
Please note:
If you want to help Chicago’s homeless, Pacific Gardens needs coats, hats, gloves and mittens and is accepting donations. The shelter is located at 1458 S. Canal St.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Look at Chicago Sports Most Memorable Weather Related Moments

(Extreme) weather is on the mind of everyone.  Rightfully so, it's freaking cold outside!

In honor of this event, the Chicago Tribune has a fun article looking at the most memorable weather-related sports events in Chicago history.  Many of them took place at Soldier Field and if you're lucky enough maybe you went to one.

We were at the Blackhawks vs. Penguins "stadium series" game in 2014.  We don't remember it being unbearable from a cold standpoint, but it was fun as it snowed pretty hard:
The wind off Lake Michigan swirled and so much snow fell it was hard to follow the game at times as the Blackhawks beat the Penguins at Soldier Field. And it was great.

"Probably the greatest setting you could want," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
"With how hard it was snowing it was like, ‘Wow, these are amazing conditions.’ I think everybody went back to when they were kids.”

Other events at Soldier Field include The Fog Bowl (Dec. 31, 1988) & The Haunting Halloween night (Oct. 31, 1994).

What is the number one weather related sports event?  The Cubs World Series rain delay - that was pretty epic

Monday, January 28, 2019

River City Gets a Controversial Paint Job

River City gets a paint job (via Curbed):
A month after closing a massive deal to deconvert River City’s 449 condos into rental apartments, a team of developers unveiled plans to renovate the iconic 1986 Bertrand Goldberg-designed structure with a new entrance, lobby, and communal spaces. Some preservationists, however, are not pleased with the changes.
A joint venture of the Wolcott Group, Marc Realty, and Ruttenberg Gordon Investments tapped Blue Star Properties to design the makeover, which includes new residential amenities such as a party room, coworking spaces, and an outdoor terrace with grilling stations, bocce ball, shuffleboard courts, and a dog run.
We understand the sentiment of the preservationists, but also understand to make the building more modern and desirable from a commercial standpoint.

The post goes on to state that the new River City apartments are set to welcome its first residents in March.

As a reminder there was a ton of controversy related to River City being deconverted from condos to apartments.  That officially happened in 2018 and here we are in 2019 talking about the building finally being open for the new residents. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Two Robberies Target Canada Goose Wearing Victims in Chinatown

It's cold. You're bundled up.  But beware because you could be a target (via Chicago Tribune):
It’s freezing in Chicago, and it’s open season on Canada Goose — not the water birds, the brand of super-warm coats that are ubiquitous on city streets in spite of their roughly $1,000 price tags.

Over the past two weeks, Chicago police have reported a spate of robberies in which people wearing the coats (and at least one wearing a fake) have been targeted and forced to give up their jackets.

Around 8:30 Wednesday night in the 2100 block of China Place, surveillance video captured a 54-year-old man being punched and robbed by two men who jumped from a white Mercedes sedan, showed a gun and forcibly took his Canada Goose coat and wallet. Twenty minutes later, men in a light-colored sedan accosted a 23-year-old man walking with a friend in the 200 block of West Cullerton Street, showed a gun and demanded his Canada Goose coat.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) Signs on Prestigious International University to Coalition

More news on DPI (via Crains):
The budding Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop got an important push today as officials from its parent University of Illinois announced an "international partnership" with the famed Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a major research hub whose founders included Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.
But though the alliance with a school noted for producing Nobel laureates will provide some glitz, officials still are vague on when they will produce the promised hundreds of millions and perhaps billions of dollars in private capital needed to match up to $500 million in available state capital.

While this is positive news, the article plainly states that they still needs private investment:
So far, the institute has lined up $300 million in "non-state" funding, Killeen said. Most of that is from universities and "not enough yet" from private companies interested in tapping the U of I’s research and development abilities, but, "We have a lot more coming." Killeen did not say when or how much.
The U of I chief did say that a formal written agreement with Related, which has agreed to donate property for DPI if U of I and partners build it, is "in a third draft" and likely to be competed "in month or so." Signing an agreement would be taken by some as a definite sign of progress.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Flo & Santos Delicious "Flying Pork Wings" Get Some Love from Bloomberg

Bloomberg talks about the "Pork Wing" trend and references one of our favorite dishes in the Sloop:
No, pigs don’t have wings, but that’s not stopping restaurants from selling them.

Although chicken wings have long been a game-day staple, non-wing wings are poised to become the surprise star at this year’s Super Bowl as chains like Pizza Hut and Hooters stock up on cheap protein. Boneless chicken wings -- generally made from breast meat -- have been gaining space on menus for years, and now pork wings are joining the ranks. Restaurants are finding that Americans are longing for convenient and non-traditional snacks, and wingless wings seem to fit the bill.

Pig Wings from Pioneer MeatsSource: Pioneer Meats Flo & Santos pub and eatery in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood can attest to their appeal. It’s had pork wings on the menu since opening eight years ago. Chefs toss the “flying pork wings” in buffalo, barbecue or teriyaki sauce, and five of them go for $14.

“They’re an easy sell. It’s something unique, something you can share,” General Manager Nicki Piersanti said. “Pork wings -- it’s funny -- pigs can’t fly.”

Mouth watering....

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

29-Story Highrise Proposed for 717 S. Clark Street


In case you missed it last week, looks like another big residential project is headed for the Printers Row neighborhood (via Curbed):
The redevelopment of the former Palmer Printing site in Chicago’s Printer’s Row neighborhood came into clearer focus this week at a public town hall meeting hosted by 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King. 
Monday night’s presentation revealed details as well as a single rendering of a 29-story residential tower developer CMK Companies plans for 717 S. Clark Street—a site currently occupied by a low-rise commercial building and adjacent parking lot. The glassy proposal from Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture calls for 349 dwelling units and 96 parking spaces.

CMK has made it's mark all over the Sloop and this specific building looks like most of their others.  Modern, glassy but nothing to stop you in your tracks. 

The one thing that caught our attention about the rendering above was the area on the south side of the building (right part of the picture).  It sort of looks like a multi-level retail strip.  Not sure if that's what it is, but that could be an interesting addition to the stretch.

This building is going in where the last printing shop in Pritners Row called home - Palmer Printing.  They announced last January that they were moving.  Unsurprisingly, the space was gobbled up for more residential.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Elite Eye Car Moving into Former Poke Roll Space at 555 S. Dearborn

Looks like the former Poke Roll restaurant space is becoming

As a reminder Poke Roll closed up shop in the summer of 2018.

(Hat tip:  VC!)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Essex on the Park Preps for Spring Completion

Essex on the Park is almost ready for occupancy (via Curbed):
After nearly two-years of construction, Chicago’s Essex on the Park tower is starting to sign leases for its 479 apartment units on its way to an anticipated spring completion.

The 56-story South Loop high-rise broke ground in early 2017. The project from developers Oxford Capital Group and Quadrum Global and Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) replaces an unremarkable parking garage at 808 S. Michigan Avenue with a hard-to-ignore skyscraper wrapped in green-tinted glass.
Building amenities include a dramatic four-story winter garden with an indoor pool overlooking Grant Park, an outdoor patio with grilling stations, a fitness center with an indoor/outdoor yoga studio, a party room, cocktail lounge, game room, and a private conference room.
While the architecture of the building doesn't do much for us, the winter garden is one of the cooler concepts we've seen (judging by the pic above).

Regardless if you're interested in living in this building, there are some other amenities that (presumably) will be open to the community:
Additionally, residents will have access to all of the services of the adjacent Hotel Essex. Previously known as the Essex Inn, the renovated hotel will offer a new restaurant and retractable-walled elevated bar when it opens later this year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Newly Sworn in Governor Pritzker Weighs in on "The 78's" Discovery Partner Institute

Yesterday we spoke about the proposed change to the CTA station planned for the 78 development.  Today, we read an article in Crain's about the status of another aspect of the development that most have written off.  New governor J.B. Pritzker breathes some new life into this topic:
llinois’ incoming governor is throwing a lifeline to the University of Illinois’ proposed Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop, effectively toning down earlier remarks that some thought placed the budding research facility at death’s door.
In a phone interview, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, who will be sworn into office at noon Monday, said he still is “disappointed” that predecessor Bruce Rauner failed to line up any of the billions of dollars in private capital he’d promised to match the up to $500 million in state funds recently appropriated for the institute and related academic efforts. Rauner has said the money would be available—but only if he was re-elected.

However, Pritzker also made it clear he believes the institute still has merit and that it definitely is alive.

“I care deeply about bringing jobs and innovation to Illinois,” said Pritzker, a venture capitalist who found the 1871 tech incubator. “DPI is one opportunity to do that.”
The new governor conceded that the private capital "didn't happen," and strongly suggested that progress is needed if any of the $500 million in state funding is to be released by him.

Was the "private capital" Amazon's HQ2?  Probably?

Anyway, we'll see what happens on this one also.