Friday, January 29, 2021

Brazen Murder in the Middle of the Day at 1900 S. State

 This is pretty gruesome and brazen (via CBS2):

Chicago police are investigating a shooting in the South Loop that left a 24-year-old man dead. 

CPD confirmed the victim was shot at 12:19 p.m. Thursday afternoon in the 1900 block of South State Street. The man was shot in the face and the offender fled southbound on State Street. The gunfire happened inside Studio 19 near Archer.
Wow - middle of the day and a mere block and half down the street from the police station.  Clearly there was some motivation behind this brazen act, but a scary scene no doubt.  Stay safe.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Historic Elbridge Keith House on Prairie Avenue Finally Sells for a Cool $2.3 Million

One of the most intriguing properties in the Sloop (if you like mansions) has finally been sold (via Tribune):

A 150-year-old, seven-bedroom mansion built in the South Loop during the Gilded Age sold Thursday for $2.3 million.

One of only a handful of mansions left on South Prairie Avenue, the Elbridge Keith house is named after its first owner. It was used for decades by a publishing company and later held Wilbert and Marilyn Hasbrouck’s architectural bookstore, the Prairie Avenue Bookshop, and their publishing company.

The sellers include Chicago Reader publisher Tracy Baim and her sister, who inherited the mansion from their late mother and stepfather, Joy Darrow Pratt and Steven Pratt. The home is filled with family history, Baim said, including her own wedding and her brother’s, as well as their parents’ memorials.

This property has been on the market for awhile and we assumed there most have been some issues preventing it from being sold.  That said, it is a beautiful house and as stated above has served many purposes over the years.

Interestingly - the article says the new owner intends to use it as a single family home.  While we sort of dreamed about how this property could be utilized for the neighborhood, it's good to see people still willing to put down serious coin to move into the Sloop.  

With that said, congrats to the new owner! 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Sale Shows "Some Positive Light" about South Loop Property

When you read about real estate transaction deals they tend to be pretty dry.  However, every once in awhile you'll read something that catches your eye.  Such is a recent story we read about a sale on the south end of the Sloop (via REjournals):

Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cullerton Street in the South Loop, the vacant site offers a 13,107-square-foot footprint on a parcel zoned DX-5. The asset sold for $2.6 million.  

“There was a lot of early traction on this deal and it closed within 50 days of bringing it to market; but with industry-wide financing hurdles resulting from COVID in conjunction with construction costs rising at a torrid pace, it wasn’t surprising that most of that interest didn’t come from developers,” said Neems. “The interested parties, including the end buyer, were mostly build-to-suit owner-users which I think sheds some positive light on the South Loop as it shows that businesses are still optimistic of what’s to come in the area.”

Good to see some bullish buyers.


Friday, January 22, 2021

Museums Get Green Light to Reopen As Part of Tier 2 Covid-19 Mitigations

While the pandemic is still raging, it appears that the holiday spike has passed and as a result Governor Pritzker has changed some of the restrictions.  As part of that, it looks like Museums will be opening soon (via NBC5):

After Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Chicago could move to Tier 2 coronavirus mitigations, some area museums released reopening dates this week.

In Tier 2 restrictions, museums are able to open to the public with limited capacity, social distancing and mask requirements, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

You can read more about it at the link but it appears that two of the Sloop's most well known establishments are opening soon - Shedd is reopening to the general public on Jan 30th & the Field Museum is reopening to the general public on Jan 23rd.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Court Case Continues Against Ryan McCaskey - Chef/Owner of Acclaimed South Loop Restaurant Acadia

The drama around Ryan McCaskey's Michelin starred South Loop restaurant Acadia continues to swirl.  

You can read more about the current state of the allegations on Eater Chicago, but the things that stood out to us was this update about the restaurant:

Acadia has remained closed since the summer, but McCaskey tells Eater Chicago that he intends to eventually reopen.

It's been unclear what the path forward is for the restaurant with many people assuming there isn't one.  We will undoubtedly hear more about this in the future, but it seems like the door isn't completely closed on Acadia (yet).

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Jewel-Osco Piloting Automated Pickup Technology at Wabash Location

We know Covid-19 has been devastating on many levels, but one of the more interesting ramifications of the pandemic is how it has rapidly accelerated business trends.  We were fascinated to see the Sloop's Jewel-Osco on Wabash pilot a new technology (via Tribune):
A South Loop Jewel-Osco is the first grocer in the nation to pilot an automated pickup kiosk, one of numerous investments grocers are making to prepare for a future of more online shopping.

The kiosk, located in the store parking lot, is meant to offer a convenient and contact-free option for online shoppers to collect their groceries. Shoppers are asked to select a two-hour pickup window, and when they arrive they scan a code and their items are delivered robotically, according to the company.

Employees shop the store to fill customers’ orders and put them into the kiosk for pickup. The kiosk, made by Estonia-based Cleveron, has a refrigerated and deep freeze zone so ice cream can be picked up at the same console as bananas.

Has anyone used this yet?  Curious to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Architecture Columnist Blair Kamin Taking Buyout & Leaving the Tribune

We were sad to read that one of our favorite Chicago Tribune columnists is taking the companies buyout and moving on (via WTTW):

Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, is leaving the newspaper after 33 years. "It’s been an honor to cover + critique designs in the first city of American architecture," Kamin wrote in a Twitter thread announcing his departure. "My aim was to open your eyes to, and raise your expectations for, the inescapable art of architecture, which does more than any other art to shape how we live," he wrote. 

Kamin is the latest journalist to leave the Tribune, which began offering buyouts last year after Alden Global Capital became the paper's largest shareholder. Music journalist Howard Reich has also announced he is leaving, as is food critic Phil Vettel. Their departures happen as the paper has announced that it will move out of Prudential Plaza to the Freedom Center printing facility along the Chicago River, less than three years after it vacated Tribune Tower. Without Vettel and Kamin, Chicago now lacks a full-time architecture or food critic, while the loss of Reich leaves just a single full-time music critic.

We've spent a lot of posts linking to Kamin's columns over the years and will truly miss his coverage of the Sloop, city and world's architecture.

We know the Tribune continues to struggle in the face of a changing media landscape.  It's a shame that these challenges are robbing the city of such great voices.  

A big thank you to Blair Kamin and best of luck in his future endeavors.

If you're curious to read about his reflections on his time at the Tribune you can read his final column here.  It doesn't focus much on the Sloop, but does give a shoutout to some aspects of the Sloop:

In this town, architecture was, is, and always will be newsworthy — and worthy of sharp scrutiny. Even the most cursory review of my years in the critic’s chair proves the point.

New towers rose along the Chicago River as it changed from an open sewer to a recreational amenity, but some of them, particularly Donald Trump’s, had to be subjected to searing criticism before they could hold their own on the skyline.

Pitched battles were fought to keep the lakefront free and clear of massive buildings that would have needlessly cluttered the great public space. In some cases, like the giant lump that was the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the right side won. Not so on the renovated Soldier Field, a Klingon-meets-Parthenon mismatch.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Clean Your Dirty Face Officially Now Open at 1347 S. Michigan

 Looks like Clean Your Dirty Face officially opened this past Saturday (1/9) at 1347 S. Michigan according to their website and social media channels:

Of interest is that they're running a pretty enticing promotion:

We posted back in November of 2020 that they were moving in and were under the impression they were opening that year.  However, with the surge of Covid-19 and 2020 just being...well 2020 - it seems like the official opening was pushed back.

Regardless, nice to have them opening up shop in the Sloop and best of luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Chick-Fil-A Officially Set to Open on Thursday, January 21st at 1106 S. Clinton

We've written about the popular chicken chain Chick-fil-a opening in the Sloop and it sounds like they're about ready for their debut:

I’m reaching out with some exciting news regarding the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in in South Loop: Chick-fil-A South Loop, located at 1106 S Clinton St., will officially open for business on Thursday, Jan. 21.   

Kareem Edwards, the local franchise owner of Chick-fil-A South Loop, is looking forward to welcoming and serving the community and providing job opportunities to approximately 100 full- and part-time Team Members in the South Loop area. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to fill the hearts, souls and stomachs of Team Members and Guests in the South Loop area by offering an environment where each person feels welcome and celebrated,” said Edwards.

Chick-fil-A South Loop will open for drive-thru service and mobile curbside pickup from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Third-party delivery will also be offered shortly after opening. I’ve included a detailed press release on Chick-fil-A South Loop and the other Chicago area openings below.

While maybe not the most exciting addition to the Sloop, they do have pretty good chicken and any business moving forward in this environment is reason for applause.  

This area of the neighborhood - west of the river - continues to become more and more oriented around national retailers.  Not a bad thing, just interesting to see.  That said it's not an easy go for these retailers on many fronts.  Just look to our post yesterday about Michael's closing up shop.

Anyway - congrats to Kareem Edwards and team and welcome to the Sloop! 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Michael's Arts & Crafts Closing at Southgate Shopping Center

In case you didn't see this one, Michael's Arts & Crafts store at 1101 S. Canal in the Southgate Shopping Center is in the process of closing down (via @MrSouthLoop):

It's a blow for the development, but maybe not surprising given the state of Covid-19 and the persistent challenges for big box retailers.  

While probably not directly related here, we always pondered how Michael's always had significant coupons and discounts.  We simply just didn't understand the economics behind it, but maybe it was just that competitive.

The Sloop still has a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft at 555 W. Roosevelt, but another smaller neighborhood craft store - Artist & Craftsman Supply - closed last year on Wabash.    

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Store Closing Sign Appears on Urban Grocers Store at 737 S. State

Looks like Urban Grocers is closing at 747 S. State (via MrSouthLoop): 

For those of you interested, Urban Grocers open up in 2011.  At the time we thought it was strange to open up another convenience store in the area, but after a solid almost decade run it seems like the neighborhood supported it.  

We will be curious to see what pops up afterwards.  Seems ripe for QSR or some other service type of retail.  We shall see. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Tutto Italiano (501 S. Wells) Closes After 27 Years Citing Challenges with Covid-19

We were recently directed towards a Facebook post from Tutto Italiano (501 S. Wells) on their decision to close given challenges associated with Covid-19.  It's story that's been way to common during these tough times and one that is important to note.  While we consider this restaurant outside of the Sloop (given that it's north of Ida B. Wells), it is certainly a place many in the neighborhood have frequented.

Tutto Italiano Restaurant has been in business for over 27 years at the same location, 501 S. Wells, Chicago IL. This is no small feat in and of itself, and something we are extremely proud of! For perspective, most restaurants fail within a year, and the majority that make it past the first fail within five years. It is an incredibly cut-throat, competitive industry. We have gone through many ups and downs for over a quarter of a century in the heart of Chicago's business district; including the dot com bubble,  9/11, and the 2008 housing and financial crisis. As tough as it had been through those times, we endured and rebounded, staying ever-resilient and optimistic that the future would continue to bring progress and opportunity. Resilience and grit are in our DNA; we are not nor will we ever be the victims of circumstance who fold and succumb to fate without doing everything in our power to control our destiny.

With that said, we had never faced the possibility of shutting down for good before. We are devastated to say that we now are. We have been a familiar stomping ground to the financial market district for years now. We believe this was only possible through the relationships we created with people. We've met and served professionals of all types through life's good times and bad, growing personal relationships and connections that have lasted decades. We have served patrons from all over the world, many that visit us every time they are in Chicago. We've heard and shared fantastic tales with patrons whom we truly consider our friends and family. We have often been told that we're more than just a restaurant serving good food and good drinks. For some, we've elicited a feeling of nostalgia and comfort that felt like they'd been lost for years, replaced with problems and hardships. In that way, we've been like the treehouse that your group of friends would meet at, where the world became an endless realm of opportunities and possibilities.

Tuttos has been a place of fun times, social gatherings, business meetings, even an incubator for a start-up most recently for my son, a former Tuttos employee. But this situation has brought us beyond the point of not being able to meet our obligations. This pandemic has been hard on everyone, there is no doubt. Millions have struggled immensely and will continue to do so. We would like to thank every single one of our loyal patrons and friends who have been with us and supported us in these tough and trying times. You directly helped keep us afloat this long.  We truly appreciate the love and support and want everyone to know that we are incredibly thankful and mindful of the fact that Tuttos isn't just a business to us or to our loyal patrons. We did not know how long we could make it, all that we know is that we tried with all that we could to endure, and the problems and hardships of life finally turned that treehouse of infinite potential into a place that will have to exist in our memories. We are sad to say that Tutto Italiano has met its end and will be closed at the end of 2020. We hope that you share a memory that you had with us and remind us of the good old days!

-Val & Sonny Dervishi

Owners, Tutto Italiano Restaurant

We've actually never been, but their distinct "train car" dinning area is something we've always been curious about.  Guess we'll have to see what comes next to check out this unique restaurant footprint.

Regardless, sorry to hear the news, but congrats to the owners and team on such a long run.  Definitely not easy in the restaurant industry.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: I'll Take That Spot Thank You

 Interesting choice of (strategic) parking spots....the Sloop Pizza Wars are underway:

Keep your street occupied Lou Malnati's, Aurielo's and Giordano's.

Ald. Dowell to Host Virtual Community Meeting on One Central Development on January 25th

Yesterday we posted about the progress and plans for The 78.  Today we shift our attention to another massive development that also would change the neighborhood dramatically - One Central.

If you're not familiar with this one, it was first proposed back in 2019 and frankly was shocking at its ambition.  There have been some movements, but to date it's been mostly discussions.  That said, another community meeting being hosted by Alderman Dowell later in January:

One Central Community Meeting Announced for Monday, January 25th

The One Central mixed-use project from Landmark Development is proposed for approximately 32 acres of rail yards between the McCormick Place Convention Center and the Museum Campus on the Near South Side.

Pending the submission of a formal Planned Development (PD) zoning application and the completion of a formal review and approval process, the development proposes a multi-modal transit hub, up to 9,050 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of retail uses, 9.45 million square feet of office space, 1.5 million square feet of hotel uses, 350,000 square feet of event space, and 3,500 parking stalls.

Community Engagement

The proposal requires significant review by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and other City departments and agencies, as well as public hearings with the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council. A virtual community meeting hosted by DPD and Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) is scheduled for the below time and date.

One Central Community Webinar

6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25 | Register or Watch Live

This one still has a long way to go, but we have to keep an eye on it as it would have such a dramatic impact on the neighborhood.  Lots of positives and lots of negatives to consider.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The 78 "North" Phase Looks to Get Underway in 2021

Development news seemed to slow down in 2020, but judging by this post from it looks like the Sloop's biggest project is poised for some major moves in 2021:
Infrastructure work is well underway for The 78, a 62-acre megadevelopment planned by Related Midwest for the South Loop area. Set to eventually house more than 13 million square feet of building space and cost $7 billion in total, the vast riverside project is being divided into separate phases, the first of which has been dubbed The 78 North.

The flagship piece for this upcoming stage will be a pair of connected office skyscrapers known as Gateway Towers. At 755 feet and 525 feet, the taller of the two will measure in at eighth place for Chicago YIMBY’s countdown of tallest new developments. This taller west tower will span 50 floors and 1.2 million square feet, while its shorter sibling will occupy 35 floors and 800,000 square feet.

Skidmore Owings & Merrill is the design architect for both The 78’s masterplan and its sub-projects like the Gateway Towers. Both will incorporate a series of setbacks allowing for subtle tapering profiles, and will be connected by a curvilinear multi-level skybridge near the base. The inward-facing sides of the buildings utilize a more open glass curtain wall, while their opposing outward-facing walls will feature a grated motif with a bronze metal paneling. 

Lots of interesting information to unpack here.

First - interesting to see that they're dividing this into separate phases dubbed North and presumably South.  It's a huge development and we knew it was going to take awhile to fully realize the vision, but this is the first time we're hearing about it being divided into two phases and starting on the North side of the plot (although that also probably could have been assumed).  
The 78 North Planned Phase

Second - the tallest towers - called "The Gateway Towers" will loom large over the neighborhood.  It brings serious elevation West and South to an area of the neighborhood that hasn't had it.  Judging by the renderings below it seems like the tallest building will be anchored most closely to the corner of Roosevelt and Clark:

Third - you can start to get a sense of how the streetscape of Roosevelt is poised to change dramatically.  We imagine these buildings will have entrances on Roosevelt, but will be curious to see if/how they try to give cars the ability to access the buildings and the broader 78 development from Roosevelt.  It's a sticky question on many levels - but for the neighborhood the biggest question is how it would affect an already congested major thoroughfare.     

If you look at the plan at the top, it doesn't appear that there is a vehicular entrance into the development from Roosevelt.  We thought they might try to squeeze in something at the intersection where vehicles can turn into Roosevelt Collection but that doesn't appear to be in the plan (probably a good thing if you ask us).

Finally, while this development is undoubtedly going to have a ton of eyes on it and will be controversial on many fronts - we're excited to see the impact it has for the neighborhood.  While these big buildings and increased density will change the vibe of the neighborhood, the amenities like the 7-acre public park and "riverfront promenade" could be amazing assets for the Sloop.  

While renderings should be taken with a grain of salt, it is fun to see what the vision is for these additions:

(Hat tip: TC!)

Friday, January 1, 2021