Thursday, October 31, 2019

Southbridge Development Gets Permits to Start Construction at Former Harold Ickes Homes Site

Another big, but slow moving development appears ready to start moving (via Curbed):
After five years of planning, the redevelopment of the demolished Harold L. Ickes Homes public housing complex is preparing to begin construction on the Near South Side. Known as Southbridge, the sprawling project will bring hundreds of new mixed-income homes to a vacant 13-acre parcel at the intersection of Chicago’s South Loop, Chinatown, Bronzeville, and Bridgeport neighborhoods.
The development’s first phase, which comprises a pair of six-story rental buildings slated for 2310 and 2344 S. State Street, landed permits this week. The duo will feature a combined 206 rental apartments with 68 units reserved for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) households, 28 offered at an affordable rate, and 112 at market-rate.
Designed by architect of record Nia Architects and design architect Antunovich Associates, phase one will include residential amenities such as a fitness center and rooftop lounge. There will also be 2,000 square feet of ground-floor community space including classrooms, a demonstration kitchen, and event spaces.

While this area of the South Loop has been relatively stagnant, it's natural to assume this area is ripe for development.  To the east the Motor Row area has substantial momentum (although still has a ways to go) and to the west Chinatown continues to expand.  So it seems natural that this area of the South Loop will be a good bridge.

Anyone have thoughts on this news?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Church of Scientology Build-out Underway at 650 S. Clark

A reader sent us an article from the Columbia Chronicle:
Junior filmmaking major Aaron Biggers, who lived in the Dwight Lofts for the 2018–2019 academic year, was curious to find out what was happening next door after passing by the construction.
Biggers eventually learned the construction site neighboring the Dwight Lofts, 642 S. Clark St., will be home to the relocated Church of Scientology of Chicago, as reported by the Chronicle April 13, 2015. The church currently has a Chicago location at 3011 N. Lincoln Ave.
“I saw the construction outside last year … and we were all wondering what it was,” Biggers said. “As I passed by after class one day, there was some paperwork on some wood paneling that said something like, ‘If you have a problem with the construction, notify the Church of Scientology Illinois.’”
Amazingly, we first heard about the Church of Scientology coming to this location way back in 2009!  What has taken them so long to build this out - who knows?!?!?!

The article above goes on to get some neighbors perspective on the church opening up shop in the Sloop.  Not the hardest hitting article, but still worth a read.

(Hat tip:  DS!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

HAX to Close on Wednesday, October 30th

Well this sucks (via Hax Facebook page):

Lost of questions are still unanswered regarding what happened or what's next.  The owners of Hax (formerly Hackney's) are also owners Flacos Tacos (which presumably will stay open) and of Gordo's - the Ice Cream bar shop that is actually attached to Hax.  It's unclear if Gordo's will stay open.

As a reminder, Hax was previously a popular sit-down restaurant called Hackney's.  At the time, the many in the neighborhood questioned the move considering Hackney's did a consistent business.  They officially closed their doors in 2016 and took about a year to reopen as Hax.  While the concept of Hax was interesting, it never gained a ton of traction with the neighborhood.

We will stay close to this one as it's certainly a prime restaurant/retail spot in Printers Row.

If anyone has any tips let us know. 

(Hat tip: NS!)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Various (Web) Voices Question Whether or Not 1000M Gets Built

In case you missed it, last week there was a ceremonial groundbreaking for the 74-story 1000M condo high rise planned for the block of 1000 S. Michigan.  The plans are beautiful and surely would add another gem to the South Loop's portion of the iconic Chicago skyline.

We posted about this two weeks ago and was surprised that this was moving forward.  It sounds like we're not the only ones who felt this way.  Others have been clearer about their head-scratching.  For instance (aka Crain's):
Will this Helmut Jahn tower get built?A ceremonial groundbreaking was set for today at 1000 S. Michigan Ave. for the 74-story condo tower the architect designed. The start of actual construction hasn't been announced. Crain's has some questions.
The body of the article makes some stark points about the price per square foot:
Typically, around the time of a groundbreaking, developers like to talk up their pre-sale figures. As an example: When ground was being broken for 95-story Vista Tower in Lakeshore East in 2016, the developers reported that about 80 condos, or 20 percent, were already under contract. These developers, Time Equities based in New York City and JK Equities based in the New York suburbs, “are not speaking about financing or pre-sales,” spokeswoman Marisa Monte said in an email to Crain’s last week.
That’s not to say there haven’t been sales at 1000M.
The developers have marked 97 units as being under contract to buyers, Crain’s found by sifting through the listings database maintained by Midwest Real Estate Data. If accurate, that’s about 23 percent of the planned 421 units.
Of those marked sold, 53, or more than half, are studios and one-bedrooms priced between $259,000 and $700,000. Early in 2019, the developers announced they had reconfigured several floors to create smaller “micro-units” priced in the lower $300,000s and quickly sold at least 20 of them.
The top-priced unit at 1000M marked sold is a 2,150-square-footer on the 57th floor whose asking price was $3.43 million. If it closes near that price, it will top the record price for the South Loop. In 2016, buyers paid $3.2 million for a 4,600-square-foot condo on the 23rd floor of 1201 S. Prairie Ave., looking over Grant Park from its south edge.
Among the yet unsold: seven condominiums priced between $4 million and $8.1 million. In the past two years, the average price of the more than 2,000 condos sold in the South Loop has been $330,000, according to Midwest Real Estate Data.
“Any time you’ve got a product that’s more expensive than what has historically sold in the area, you have to get creative in the marketing,” said Ryan Preuett, a Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty agent who was one of two representing the record-priced Prairie Avenue condo. The buyers there had been looking in neighborhoods north of the park.
“We got them to come south and they saw how much more they could get in the South Loop,” said Preuett. (At the time of that sale, he was working for a different brokerage.) North of the park, they’d been spending about $1,000 per square foot, he said, while south of the park they paid about $695 a foot.
The $4 million-and-up condos at 1000M range from $1,229 to $1,476 a foot. “You’re in uncharted waters,” said Preuett, who emphasized that he was not saying they can’t sell at that level.
A couple other real estate voices on the interwebs have provided more air to these questions.  The Chicago Architecture Bog had a posted titled "A South Loop Skyscraper Breaks Ground Without Breaking Ground" and Joe Zekas from YoChiago posted this from his Linkedin handle:

To be fair, a lot of the questions are stemming from the Crain's article we posted about above.  We would love to see this building get built as it would have a major impact on the neighborhood and would help the momentum around the South Loop's side of Grant Park continue.

But...we're still skeptical.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Roosevelt University Plans to Acquire Robert Morris University

In case you missed this, it looks like we have some consolidation going on in the higher education space in the neighborhood (via Chicago Tribune):
Roosevelt University plans to acquire Robert Morris University, school officials announced Wednesday (on 10/2).
Roosevelt has submitted the acquisition request to the Higher Learning Commission, an institution that accredits and provides oversight to universities throughout the Midwest. Accreditation is critical to ensuring the academic quality and financial health of a school, and making students eligible for financial aid.
The merger also needs to be approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and U.S. Department of Education, a process officials say likely would not be complete until early 2020.
Should the proposal be approved, Robert Morris would operate under the Roosevelt name and umbrella. Much of the programming, however, could continue on under a new unit called the Robert Morris Experiential College.
“We have been working with Robert Morris’ leadership team to ensure that it is a good fit for our respective students, faculty and staff,” Roosevelt President Ali Malekzadeh said in a statement. “Because of our complementary programs, and inclusive, yet distinct, missions of social justice and social equity, it is a perfect fit for both our universities’ students, faculty and staff and provides countless opportunities for everyone. We hope for this to be a model approach on how to successfully integrate two private universities.”

Probably not a great sign for higher education.  Thoughts?

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Sloopy Descendant?

A reader writes:
This guy decided to visit South Loop for his morning perch today! Roosevelt & Prairie

One of our favorite long running posts on Sloopin is the story of the Peregrine Falcons.  We first posted about this way back in 2009.

If you're a long time reader of Sloopin, you may know that a worker at the Field Museum named one of the neighborhood Peregrine Falcons she was tracking - Sloopy - after this here blog:
2009 Broadway female Sloopy — named in honor of the website Sloopin, who helped us get the word out to the area and track the south loop birds — is nesting! 
If you're interested in Peregrine Falcons, there is a Facebook page that monitors them regionally called Chicago Peregrine Falcons.

Maybe this guy was just in town to find his long lost relative?

(Hat tip:  SG!)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Thursday, October 17, 2019

74-Story 1000M Condo Building Set to Break Ground on South Michigan on October 24th

Not going to lie, this surprised us (via Chicago Tribune):
Developers plan to break ground next week on a delayed, Helmut Jahn-designed condominium tower that would be the tallest building in the iconic row of skyscrapers on Michigan Avenue across from Grant Park.
Called 1000M, a reference to its address in the 1000 block of South Michigan, the 832-foot, 74-story tower would have the largest number of units in any condo building launched in Chicago since the recession.
Plans call for the 421-unit tower to be built near the south end of the Historic Michigan Boulevard District. The district, which extends from Randolph Street on the north to 11th Street on the south, has city landmark protection. The silvery skyscraper would have a distinct silhouette, flaring outward as it rises.
The groundbreaking is scheduled for Oct. 24, according to the developers. An invitation to the groundbreaking calls it an "event commemorating the start of construction.”

Why did it surprise?  Well it's a big big big project and has been slow moving.  Beyond that, it seems as if most experts believe a recession is coming so the timing seems like a challenge.  But what do we know...

Also - starting construction in late October seems like a strange time to be starting in Chicago (it's going to be real cold really soon!).

Anyway, if this in fact takes off it's another huge change for the neighborhood.  In our opinion this will be a beautiful, statement building for the Sloop and will continue to the evolution of a once sleepy part of Michigan Avenue.  The new Hotel Essex and Essex on the Park, just a block north of 1000M, have added some nice energy to this stretch of Michigan so we imagine this new project will do the same.

Should be interesting to see what happens.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Well-Wentworth Connector: A New Type of Road at The 78 Development

The 78 - the new mega development planned for the gigantic vacant land south of Roosevelt - has been written about a lot.  Regardless of your beliefs on the development it surely is going to be transformative for the Sloop.

There was an old post on Curbed Chicago that we didn't link to awhile back but is pretty interesting.  It talks about the plans for the Wells-Wentworth Connector:
In Chicago, a new street main street built from scratch will consider a lot more than just cars. The Wells-Wentworth Connector will be a road for pedestrians, bikers, and new modes of transportation the city might adopt in the future such as scooters.
In a major city it’s a rare opportunity to construct a brand new road without existing infrastructure to work around or other development obstacles, but that’s exactly the chance developer Related Midwest will get with the Wells-Wentworth Connector.
Earlier this summer work on the project began which will be the main road running from north-south in the megadevelopment The 78. The road will directly and easily connect near South Side neighborhoods to the Loop for the first time.

So that sounds great, but what does it really mean.  The article goes on to provide more specifics:
The street will only have two lanes for cars and speed tables at crosswalks will reduce the risk of speeding down the straight road. A speed table is similar to a speed bump except it has a flat top. The ones at The 78 will be placed at crosswalks and reach the same height as sidewalks. This removes the dip at most other intersections in the city, and the pavers will intuitively lead people toward the riverfront and park, Pfeffer said.
The bike lane is protected by a double parkway and designed to guard bikers against hazards like dooring and cars pulling into the lane. The entire lane is 15 feet wide with 5-foot planted barriers on either side and a 5-foot space to ride.

It will be fun to see how this progresses, but it does sound like a unique opportunity.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Aaron Sorkin's "The Trial of the Chicago 7" Filming on Plymouth Ct Today

It looks like Aaron Sorkin's upcoming movie, The Trial of the Chicago 7, is filming in the Sloop today:

For those not familiar with the premise - the movie's IMDB page says:
The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
Beyond an intriguing (local) premise, the cast looks stellar:  Jeremy Strong (Kendall form the hugely popular show Succession), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eddie Redmayne.

(Hat tip:  JTS!)

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Chicago Fire's Return to Soldier Field Seems Like a Win for the Sloop Also

In case you missed this one, looks like the Sloop is going to have more events in the neighborhood starting next year (via Chicago Tribune):
The Chicago Fire’s return to Soldier Field is official.

At a news conference Tuesday morning at the iconic stadium, the Fire announced an agreement to play at the home of the Bears starting in 2020, ending a 14-season stint at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview and returning to the 61,500-seat venue in the South Loop. 
Financial terms of the deal, which runs through the 2022 Major League Soccer season with extension options for eight more years, were not disclosed. Fire owner and Chairman Joe Mansueto, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly made the announcement.
On the whole this seems like a good thing for most everyone in the equation.  Most importantly in our eyes is that the neighborhood and businesses around the Sloop will benefit from a more lively vibe and money flowing through our local establishments.

On the flip side, some of those positives could also be seen as a negatives.  More traffic, more headaches getting around, more often.  That said, still seems like the net impact is positive in our opinion.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Efforts Ongoing To Preserve Dilapidated Power Plant in the Sloop

One of the more iconic buildings in the Sloop is facing demolition.  Most would probably see this as a good thing, some not so much (via Sun Times):
An old coal-fired power plant might not be the first idea that comes to mind when Chicagoans think of buildings in need of saving in the city, but a group of preservationists are calling for just that.
Vacant since 2011, the old Union Station Power House is an example of the city’s industrial roots and a monument to its history as a mover of people and freight, according to Preservation Chicago’s Executive Director Ward Miller.
Preservation Chicago has the old “boiler plant” listed as one of the seven most threatened buildings in the city and is making a last-ditch effort to save the building by finding someone who will give it new life.
“We’re still hoping to find a developer that can reuse it and to get the city involved,” Miller said when reached by phone earlier this week. “We want more opportunity to have [the public’s] voices to be heard and determine if there is a way to avoid demolition.”
Whether its future holds a second life as a data center, an addition to the city’s expanding Riverwalk or something even more distinctive, the building should be saved for future generations to enjoy, Miller said, noting that London’s Tate Modern Museum was once the Bankside Power Station.
When seen from Roosevelt Road while crossing the Chicago River’s south branch, the boxy building’s large, twin smoke stacks rise into the sky with some of the city’s most iconic architecture as its backdrop.
Reuse would be interesting, but we just don't see it happening.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Dentart Opens Up Shop at 2106 S. Michigan

It appears that Dentart has opened up at 2016 S. Michigan (behind the tree...):

We did some googling and seems like their website says they're "specializing in Orthodontics and Prosthodontics".

While businesses moving into the Sloop is good, there is a running inside joke around the neighborhood that we have enough dentist offices, salons and spas.  Guess we need one more...

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sign for Ming Hin on Side of 1234 S. Michigan Building

More signs of the popular Ming Hin coming to 1234 S. Michigan:

Back in September, Curbed Chicago posted about this restaurant coming to long vacant building.

Will be nice to have this building alive and active again.

(Hat tip:  JL!)

Monday, October 7, 2019

GoGrocer Opens New Location at 1401 S. Michigan

GoGrocer looks to be open at 1401 S. Michigan:

The interesting thing is that GoGrocer has a location one block north of this location (1250 S. Michigan).  While more and more people pour into the Sloop, maybe both can survive?  If it wasn't GoGrocer, it could have been another quick, small, local neighborhood convenience store.  After all Lakeview Market & Deli opened two blocks north (1118 S. Michigan) of the original GoGrocer on Michigan Ave.

As a reminder, this was once an upscale bar called Square One.  That bar closed up shop in the spring of 2018 and has remained vacant since.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Sage Room Poised to Take Over Former Velvet Lounge Space at 67 E. Cermak

We were recently on Cermak and noticed some movement at the former Velvet Lounge space (67 E. Cermak):

We're not sure what the story is here, but the green painted brick nicely changes up the look of this long drab retail complex.

We did some searching and of course they have a Facebook page - although it doesn't really have a ton of info.  It does have some tantalizing photos though:

If these pictures turn out to be true, the Sage Room could be a great addition to this area of the Sloop!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Beetlejuice Pop-Up Bar Coming to Motor Row Just in Time for Halloween

This could be fun (via Eater):
Chicago’s throwback pop culture pop-up bar bubble shows no signs of bursting anytime soon. The Bassline at 2239 S. Michigan Avenue will host the latest, based on Tim Burton’s classic 1988 movie Beetlejuice, which starred Michael Keaton as the crude and comedic spirit. House of Beetle will offer themed cocktails, scavenger hunts, live entertainment, and more, according to a news release and Block Club. It’ll run from October 17 through November 1 and tickets and more information are available on its website.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Molly's Cupcakes Brings An Alternative Option to Night Time Activities

Dessert options in the Sloop have always been spotty.  Yes, most restaurants have options but sometimes it's nice to just go somewhere else for dessert.

An ice cream shop is usually the defacto "dessert" spot in a neighborhood, but for some reason the Sloop doesn't have a real spot that focuses on the cool treat.  Yes, we have a couple Baskin Robins scattered throughout the neighborhood, but that's not really the vibe we're talking about. 

Gordo's Ice Cream in Printers Row is one option that has certainly scratched the sweet tooth itch for the neighborhood.  If you're really twisting our arm you could maybe argue that Stan's Donuts on Roosevelt or Little Branch Cafe are options - although they're not open late for a post meal dessert.  

Which brings us to the new Molly's Cupcakes at 1150 S. Wabash.  While Molly's has had immense success across the city, we were curious to see how it would do in the Sloop.  It's been open for just over a month now and judging by our first visit this past Saturday night, the neighborhood is ready to support their delicious doughy business.

On Saturday night around 10pm, it certainly didn't have a line out the door, but was busy. 

There were college kids playing board games on the swing chairs at the front of the establishment.  A multi-generational family sitting at the communal tables enjoying the unique cupcakes.  A middle aged daughter with her mom plotting which desserts they were going to try and a group that appeared to be on a double date nerding out on the ridiculously over-sized chalkboard:  

All that said, it was nice to see a variety of neighbors doing something at night in the Sloop that didn't rely on alcohol.  While we certainly appreciate imbibing in the Sloop and around town, options are critical to a thriving neighborhood and it appears Molly's may in fact provide a new option for residents.

Welcome to the Sloop Molly's!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Donate Your Lightly Warn Shoes at FFC Gym (1151 S. State) Until October 11th

A reader writes:
Please list if not already listed
Used and new shoes needed
Tennis shoes mostly
All local FFC participating

So we looked a little more into this and found this on their website (via FFC website):
From September 9 – October 11, all FFC locations will be accepting donations of gently used gym shoes to benefit Share Your Soles, a local organization that distributes shoes to people in need locally, nationally and internationally! Tell your friends and family – you don’t need to be a member to donate!

Seems like a good cause!

(Hat tip:  SB!)