Saturday, October 1, 2022

Friday, September 30, 2022

Cafe Bionda Opens Under New Restaurant Group and Looks Fantastic

Same spot, but new restaurant group.  Judging by the pictures in this post - looks like we're going to have to check it out (via InsideHook):
Cafe Bionda
South Loop

You’re here because: You were crushed when they announced their closure during the pandemic.

You’re dining on: Cafe Bionda is back with a new restaurant group, refreshed space and an Italian chef. Classics like sausage and peppers, brick chicken and cavatelli al forno grace the menu, while newcomers include caprese burrata and housemade short rib ravioli topped with a red wine demi-glace. The warm, candlelit dining room is the perfect place to enjoy an autumnal, carb-heavy meal with a glass or two of wine from the Italian-focused wine list.

1924 S. State St.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Monday, September 19, 2022

A Weekend of Partying Until 2am and a Homicide Down the Street


We live by Roosevelt and State, and this weekend was a brutal one for our young family.  

While we're all for celebrations, the rowdy scenes for Mexican Independence Day went well past 2am on Saturday morning with loud music, squealing tires and fireworks booming overhead.  While this is a nuisance and maybe makes it hard for us to sleep for one night - we can put up with it.  Sure, it's probably illegal on many fronts but it's the cost for living in a vibrant (?), diverse city.

That said, as we woke up and rode bikes to Grant Park on Saturday morning to a park district lesson for our young son, it's unfortunate to see trash littered all over ever street and sidewalk.  It's also strange  explaining why there was a burnt out car on Roosevelt sitting at a major intersection like it wasn't unusual.  Nothing to see hear - just a lovely Saturday morning in the Sloop!

Our life went on - but it was a strange morning bike ride.

Then we woke up Sunday morning to see the headlines that a man was murdered in front of South Loop Elementary just outside the playground.  This one hits really close to home for us and seems to encapsulate why many people simple don't want to live in Chicago (via CBW Chicago):
Chicago police said a man was fatally shot while standing with a large group of people outside South Loop Elementary School overnight. The people he was with all ran away after the shooting, and police still don’t know who he is. 

It happened around 12:46 a.m. Sunday in the 1200 block of South Plymouth. Chicago police said the man, who appeared to be in his mid-20s or early 30s, suffered gunshot wounds to his face and chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.
We love riding our bikes to the lake, having dinner on the sidewalks of our neighborhood, having our son walk to school and doing so many other things the Sloop (and city) has to offer.  If you know me, i'm one of the biggest boosters of "city living" - after all i've been writing this blog since 2008!

But on this Monday, I write to say this is tough.  I don't have the answers on how to make things better, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to call Chicago home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Person of Interest Being Questioned in Groping Incidents Around the Neighborhood

Hoping this guy is caught (from CBS2):

Chicago Police Saturday were questioning a person of interest in a series of groping incidents in the city's Loop and South Loop.

Police say a man on a one-wheeled motorized skateboard assaulted at least two women and then rode off.

CBS 2 spoke with two other women who say they were also assaulted.

These are just a few of the people who have come forward. Many others have posted about their experiences online, and they fear that if this person is not detained there could be many more.

The incidents documented by Chicago Police occurred on the morning of Aug. 6 in the 1100 block of South State Street and June 1 in the 400 block of West Lake Street around the same time of day.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Moody Tongue Brewery Gets Profiled By CBS Sunday Morning

A reader sent us this great video from CBS Sunday Morning profiling Moody Tongue Brewery.  We didn't see this and if you haven't, it will likely cause you to add this restaurant/brewery to your list (via CBS):

Acclaimed chef Jared Wentworth and brewmaster Jared Rouben have created quite a buzz with their Chicago restaurant, by pairing fine dining with in-house crafted beers. A review in the Michelin Guide says “Their culinary fireworks will lift your spirits and have you returning for more.” Dana Jacobson sits down with the duo behind the world’s first two Michelin star brewery. Air Date: Dec 3, 2021

As you may or may not know, Moody Tongue earned a prestigious two Michelin stars back in the spring of 2021.  It's nice to have this in our backyard and one we still haven't had a chance to check out, but hope to soon!

(Hat tip:  AK!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Lolla Officially Staying in Chicago for Another Decade

Apparently when we posted last week about Lolla contract extensions, it wasn't quite a done deal yet.  However, it still felt like it was going to happen and sure enough it did (via Tribune):

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Sunday announced a new contract to keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park for another 10 years.

Lightfoot said the festival will continue to take place in Chicago through 2032, revealing the news ahead of J-Hope’s headlining act on the Bud Light Seltzer stage Sunday evening.

“People have been saying to me, ‘Mayor, we love Lolla. It’s the best thing going.’ I agree. And so I’m here to tell you by decree, we’re gonna make sure that Lolla continues in the future,” Lightfoot said as the four-day event wound down.

The contract will be in place for the 2023 festival, and festival organizer C3 Presents and the Chicago Park District will have the option to extend the contract under the same terms for five years. It was unclear Sunday whether the agreement will go before the Park District board.

Full contract details were not available Sunday, including mention of the city’s amusement tax, a final sticking point in the negotiations. Last week, C3 Presents executives were pressing the city for assurances that Chicago’s amusement tax would not rise higher during the course of a new agreement.

The charge increased from 5% to 9% for large-scale events over the course of the existing 10-year Lollapalooza contract.

This seemed like a no brainer and one that the Mayor couldn't let slip through the cracks.

 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Lolla Founder Says Music Fest Will be Around for Another Decade in Chicago

Lollapalooza kicked off yesterday and the massive events future in Chicago seemed to be in question as this is the last year of their official contract.  Well it seems like the fest isn't going anywhere anytime soon (via WGN):

Lollapalooza will call Chicago home for another decade. 

The festival’s creator, Perry Farrell, spoke with WGN’s Dean Richards on Thursday, the first day of the four-day festival. 

“The mayor has given us a 10-year extension in the park,” Farrell said. “So we’ll be around here for another decade.”
According to other news sources the deal hasn't been officially inked, but seems like there is mutual interest to keep one of the summers signature events in Grant Park.

While (likely) losing the Bears to Arlington Heights probably isn't closely linked to negotiations with Lollapalooza, it would be another black mark to Mayor Lightfoot if she lost Lollapalooza.  It's a huge boon for the downtown core - hotels, restaurants, events, etc - and it's to keep money flowing into downtown.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Take a Driver Through the Chicago NASCAR Course Through Grant Park

We posted last week about the NASCAR race coming to Grant Park - if you are interested in how this course will look and how the drivers will attack it here is a good video:

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

City's Last Ditch Dome Option for Soldier Field Seems Costly and Unlikely to Keep Bears

Seems like a costly, unrealistic last ditch effort but we'll see what happens (via ESPN):

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed three proposals on Monday for renovations to Soldier Field to entice the Bears to remain at their home stadium of the past 50 years. At the center of the proposal is the construction of a domed stadium, which could cost anywhere from $900 million to $2.2 billion. Lightfoot laid out three options for construction of a dome: 

• The first would fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome structure. 
• The second would require both end zones to be rebuilt with columns to make the stadium dome-ready. 
• The third option calls for modifications to make Soldier Field a multipurpose stadium suited to host soccer games while also making it a viable location to accommodate major concerts and a range of events.

The Chicago Tribune hit the nail on the head with this blurb in the article we read:
While she (Lightfoot) tries to determine if it’s possible to keep the team in Chicago, the mayor also needs to prepare for a post-Bears future at the lakefront so she can present a forward-looking plan to try to defray the loss of revenue and civic prestige if they Bears leave, which helps explain Monday’s news conference.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

NASCAR Race Coming to Grand Park & South Loop in 2023

 I'm not a NASCAR fan, but this sounds pretty cool (via WGN):

Some of the world’s greatest drivers will get their chance to compete on the streets of the Windy City in 2023. 

The NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race will take place the weekend July 1 and 2 of next year. 

The series and the City of Chicago revealed the route on Tuesday afternoon when they made the details of the event final.


In general loud cars and bikes are a bit of a headache in the Sloop, but we're giving this a pass.  Also love how the finish line is right at Buckingham Fountain.  Should have some pretty iconic visuals for this race.

Kudos to the city for doing something different.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Cafe Bionda Reopening at 1924 S. State

 Well this is exciting:


Cafe Bionda closed during covid, but was a popular staple in the southern part of the neighborhood.  Will be nice to have them back on Sate street.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Shootout at Roosevelt Collection Parking Garage Very Early Monday Morning

A scary scene at Roosevelt Collection super early on Monday morning (via ABC7):

At least one person was injured in a shootout in the South Loop early Monday morning after a person pulling into a garage was faced with gunmen, Chicago police said.

A male victim was pulling into a garage parking lot just before 3:40 a.m. in the 1100-block of South Delano Court when a black Jeep and white sedan followed him into the structure, CPD said.

A total of five male suspects exited the Jeep and sedan and pulled out guns, according to CPD.

The victim, a concealed-carry holder, also pulled out a gun, and a shootout ensued, police said.

The suspects then ran back to their vehicles and drove away.

Several minutes earlier, three male suspects in a black Jeep got out of the vehicle and struck a 48-year-old woman in the back of the head in the 700-block of South Wells Street and demanded her property, CPD said.

They took her Chrysler 300 and other belongings.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

City Talks Museum Campus Ideas and Dome at Soldier Field ; Bears Promptly Say No Thanks

Lots of movement last week on the Bears vs. City of Chicago drama.

For those not up-to-speed, the Bears have one foot out of the proverbial Soldier Field door and ready to move to the burbs.

In a final hail mary, Mayor Lightfoot and her team came up with a bunch of ideas on how to improve the broader Museum Campus (and ultimately hopefully keep the Bears at Soldier Field):

There are some interesting and well needed things (hello bridges to Northerly Island!), but as it relates to the Bears - THEY GONE!


The Bears issued this statement in response (from MSN): 
“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park.” 
“As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract.” 
There you have it. The Bears are all-in on the move to Arlington Heights. 
The initial agreement between the Bears and Churchill Downs Inc. last fall for the purchase of the Arlington Heights site was for $197.2 million. According to Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen, the company can close the sale of the property at Arlington Park by mid-2023.

This is the clearest sign from the Bears that they're moving.  So...we'll see what the city does.  

(Hat tip: PB!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Shedd Aquarium Approved for Renovations

 Good news for Shedd Acquarium lovers (via Urbanize Chicago):

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved the Lakefront Protection Ordinance application for renovations to the Shedd Aquarium. Located at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr, the project will improve the facilities of the museum on the Museum Campus. Looking towards its 100th anniversary in 2030, the Shedd Aquarium plans the work as part of its Centennial Commitment, a $500 million plan to improve physical facilities and programmatic content.

The most prominent change to the exterior will be the addition of a new entry and ticketing pavilion surrounding the Man with Fish sculpture outside of the accessible entry. Currently the entry does not have enough capacity to meet demand, so the new design will accommodate a larger number of visitors. With 85% of tickets purchased in advance, the separated ticketing and entry pavilions will streamline the entry process for those who have bought tickets online allowing them to enter directly.

Two pavilions will be added in front of the current entrance with a circular trellis connecting the two to create a sense of arrival for visitors. The structures have been designed to create a light touch within the landscape, enhanced to allow for greater visibility of the entrances while using larger trees to break down the scale of the new structures. In response to feedback the ceilings of the pavilions will be GFRC instead of the original wood material.




Monday, June 27, 2022

CPS CEO Pulls Funding for Proposed South Loop High School ; Says More Time & Community Engagement Needed

In case you missed it last week, more delays and uncertainty around next steps with a "South Loop High School" (via Chicago Tribune):

Hours before the Chicago Board of Education was poised to vote Wednesday on the $9.4 billion budget for the coming school year, Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez pulled a $120 million line item for a proposed high school that would serve Chinatown, Bridgeport and South Loop.

“Conversations for the need of a neighborhood high school in the Near South have been happening for a decade now, with many advocates and community leaders urging CPS to take this step. Our team has done a great job in showing the need, with our Black students attending 95 different high schools and our Asian students traveling some of the longest distances across to other neighborhood schools,” Martinez said at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting.

Though planning is still in the early stages, critics railed against the proposal for utilizing money promised to a different neighborhood and spending millions on a new school instead of improving the high schools in the area. CPS also has come under fire for exploring building the school in the footprint of the former Ickes Homes public housing complex without first seeking feedback from residents who live near there.

Unfortunately the bureaucratic process and various groups CPS is trying to appease will continue to cause challenges.  Read the article and it's not hard to understand why this is difficult.  Regardless - it's frustrating for parents who across the board and likely is a reason why people flee the city.

This has been going on for decades - apparently 25 years by estimates of Chinatown leaders - and it seems like we're back to the drawing board.  Yikes!  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

$400K Stolen Violin Returned to South Loop Family

Well it sounds like the South Loop stolen violin has a relatively happy ending (via Chicago Tribune):  

After a monthlong disappearance, police have returned a stolen violin made in 1760 to a South Loop family of musicians whose home was burglarized and robbed of the 262-year-old violin, as well as two other valuable instruments in May.
 
MingHuan Xu, a professional violinist and director of the string program at Roosevelt University, was preparing to perform at the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival in Washington on Tuesday when the Chicago Police Department called and asked her to come into the station to identify three instruments.

Xu immediately dropped out of her performance that night, booked a red-eye, and arrived in Chicago at 4 a.m. Wednesday. She identified the three instruments “right away” as the three that were taken from her home a month earlier. The instruments were all undamaged and in good condition.

With no suspects in custody and the investigation still “open,”it remains unclear who was behind the burglary or how police acquired the instruments, though surveillance cameras from a neighbor’s garage did capture images of the suspect entering Xu’s home around 3:45 a.m. the morning of May 11.

It still seems like a strange sequence of events - especially how the Police just "acquired" the instruments - but hopefully we will learn more in the future.

Anyway - glad that this was returned.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Lake Michigan Fluctuating Water Levels Wreaking Havoc on Beaches

 One of Chicago's (and the Sloop's) most precious resources - Lake Michigan - continues to be in a precarious give and take as it relates to water levels and erosion.

The Tribune has a good read on the current dynamics and how water levels are causing erosion.  They also talk about our local Sloop beach:

In the heart of the city, just steps from the Doane Observatory at Adler Planetarium, hundreds gathered at 12th Street Beach as they enjoyed the three-day weekend and the kickoff of beach season. But 12th Street has also suffered from erosion and, according to the Park District, is in need of repairs to its lake wall — repairs that are set to begin in early June and be completed by October. The beach will remain open during the renovation. 

“Anywhere that we can keep the water area and the beach open, we absolutely will because we know how precious beach season is in Chicago,” Gleason said.

We haven't been recently, but last year it definitely looked like only 1/3 of the beach was still there.  Sounds like it's only gotten worse.  

Here is an old picture of how the beach looked.  Today it's not nearly as big (we hope to get there soon to check it out):



 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

River West Casino Gets Approval from City Council

For those of you who cheered when the River West location was chosen for the Chicago Casino but continued to hold your breath until it was a done deal - yesterday marked a major step in the process (via Tribune): 

A casino for Chicago — an enterprise supporters say is 30 years in the making and opponents view as a rush job — took a big step toward reality Wednesday with the City Council voting 41-7 to approve the plan. 

Less than three weeks after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced her choice, a majority of aldermen signed onto the plan for Bally’s to build a $1.7 billion casino, hotel and entertainment venue in River West. 

The gambling complex must also now win approval of the Illinois Gaming Board. It also faces strong headwinds in the area among nearby residents, as do plans to open a temporary casino inside the historic Medinah Temple building that would operate while the permanent development is constructed.
Knock on wood that this continues...



Monday, May 23, 2022

Gong Cha Coming to University Center on State Street (500 block of S. State)

Looks like a new tea place called Gong Cha is opening at University Center where Spanglish use to be:

We've never heard of this place, but apparently this is a huge franchise (check their website for more info):
Founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Gong Cha, which translates to “tribute tea for the emperor” opened its doors to the bubble tea market. Gong cha’s success in Taiwan launched our stores all over the globe with customers loving our premium quality tea, products & services: 
  • Fresh Tea brewed throughout the day 
  • Pearls (bubbles) freshly prepared to perfection continuously through the day 
  • Tea sourced from the finest tea estates in Taiwan 
  • Strict quality controls for all ingredients 
Gong cha is known across the world for its signature Milk Foam. Its creamy, sweet and savory flavor balance and whipped texture make it the perfect complement to our freshly brewed teas. Our delicious milk foam is hand-crafted for each customer and made from the freshest milk and highest quality, signature ingredients.
Interesting spot for their first location in the midwest - but glad to have them in the Sloop.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Violin Worth Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Stollen from Townhouse on Plymouth Ct

In case you missed this one, very scary story (via WGN):



Violin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - wow!  It all seems crazy that they knew (or was lucky enough) to steal something so valuable.  

Regardless, a scary story.  Be safe.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Mayor Lightfoot Picks River West for City's Casino; Process Moves on Starting Today (5/9)

 The reporting was accurate - the mayor picked the River West location as her choice for the city's downtown casino.  Most of us in the Sloop breathed a sigh of relief, but it's not a done deal yet.

If you're interested in following this story, NBC 5 has some info on the next steps - including info on a city council special committee meeting to discuss:

May 9: City Council and Special Committee 
According to a press release from Mayor Lightfoot's office, a subject matter hearing for an "Alderman special committee" to ask questions about the selected casino finalist will take place Monday at 11 a.m. 

The committee will consist of all the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of City Council Committees, as well as President Pro Tempore Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.  It will be chaired by Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, and vice-chaired by Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, the press release said. 
All of the City Council will be involved in the process for the final recommendation. 

May 12: Public Town Hall 
 The public can provide input on May 12, on the Bally's project at a community town hall at the UIC Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum at 725 W Roosevelt Rd. from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. According to the Eventbrite page, "representatives from the city and Bally’s Corporation will be there to share additional information, respond to questions, and hear from community members."

While this is increasingly becoming less of a South Loop story, we will continue to monitor. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Sources: River West Proposal to Get City Casino

Well it looks like the South Loop Casino proposals for The 78 and One Central are sitting on a "bust" hand and waiting for the final card to be played (via Sun-Times):

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is preparing to turn over her cards in the Chicago casino game, with all signs pointing to a winning hand for Bally’s Corporation and their River West bid, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. 
The city signaled in a March report that Bally’s proposal for the Chicago Tribune printing plant site at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street was the front-runner over two other finalists for the casino. An official decision could come Thursday. 
The publicly traded Rhode Island corporation was the only one to offer an upfront payment of $25 million for the license — and was projected as the top revenue generator over a Hard Rock casino proposed across DuSable Lake Shore Drive from Soldier Field, and the so-called “Rivers 78” plan backed by billionaire Neil Bluhm for the South Loop. Those are key considerations for city officials desperate to start pumping casino tax revenue into depleted police and firefighter pension funds.

If this reporting is accurate from the Sun-Times, the South Loop got lucky.  Although a casino would have given these developments a big shot in the arm and likely accelerated their plans, it would have brought a completely new element to the neighborhood which likely would have altered it dramatically forever.

It's not over yet, but seems like a positive development for the neighborhood.


Monday, May 2, 2022

Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen Opens at NEMA (1210 S. Indiana Ave)

Looks like the new Dollop Coffee at NEMA is now open and providing some unique options from their other locations (via Eater Chicago):

South Loop: There are now 19 Dollop cafes around town and in the suburbs, but the location that opened Thursday, April 28, is special, says a rep. Unlike the majority of the other locations, Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen will have full table service and offer all-day breakfast and lunch — including chicken and waffles and smash burgers — in addition to the usual coffee and pastries, with evening hours and cocktails coming next month. Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen, 1210 S. Indiana Avenue, Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Ambulance Stollen in Chinatown - Doesn't End Well for Thief

Interesting vehicle to take in Chinatown/South Loop.  Obviously this didn't end well (via Sun-Times):

A man has been charged with stealing a Chicago Fire Department ambulance Monday in Chinatown and leading police on an 80-mile chase downstate.

Benjamin K. Herrington, 46, entered the ambulance as it sat empty, parked on the street outside a fire station in the 200 block of West Cermak Road around 4:40 p.m., police said.

The Twitter video was interesting


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

CPS CEO Decides Not to Remove Jones College Prep Principal

From Block Club:

Jones College Prep’s controversial principal will remain at the high school after the head of Chicago Public Schools opted not to remove him — despite the local school council’s vote to oust him.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez issued a statement saying he would not go forward with dismissal proceedings against Joseph Powers, citing “insufficient evidence.”

Several members of Jones’ local school council had been working for months to oust Powers, accusing the principal of ignoring problematic teachers and doing little to disrupt a culture of racial and gender-based discrimination at the school. CPS launched an Title IX investigation into Jones earlier this year after allegations of discriminatory practices involving the school’s athletic teams.

Tensions reached a fever pitch when Powers reversed a previous decision to allow a budding cross country star to train with the boys’ team due to inadequate facilities on the girls’ teams.

The school’s LSC voted 8-2 last month to ask Martinez to approve written charges against Powers and start the process to fire him after 14 years at Jones. The post-midnight vote came after a tense and combative seven-hour virtual meeting.

There has been a lot of discussion in the neighborhood about the topic and imagine local parents aren't happy with this latest development.  We will see what happens next.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Aldermen in "Special Committee on the Chicago Casino" to Meet Today to Discuss Next Steps

We've been watching the potential Chicago casino very closely, but the process has been unclear (maybe because it wasn't clearly defined?).  With staunch opposition from residents in each community (South Loop and River North) along with our Aldermen we were curious how this would unfold.  Well WBEZ has an information quick read with likely timing:

Facing a chorus of opposition from Chicagoans near the remaining three possible casino locations, a committee of aldermen will begin meeting Monday to discuss where to allow the city’s first flashy gaming and entertainment district to be built. 

The locations still in the running are: a site from Bally’s Corporation at the Tribune Publishing Center in River West, a site from Hard Rock just west of Soldier Field at a proposed development known as One Central and a site from Rush Street Gaming west of the South Loop in a megadevelopment known as The 78. 

Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, chairs the new Special Committee on the Chicago Casino created by the mayor and approved by City Council last month. 

“We’ll probably be narrowing it down,” Tunney said. “Sometime between April and May, I think we’re going to reconvene with the mayor and really try to fine tune and announce a finalist.” 

No vote will be taken Monday, Tunney said, but rather aldermen will have a chance to talk to city officials and department leaders who have been involved in the casino planning process. The three bidders will not be at the meeting, but Tunney said there may be revisions submitted to the committee that take into account community feedback.

The article goes on to give good info and it sounds like they're hoping to make a decision this summer (June or July).

As it relates to the special council, we found it interesting that the alderman who represents the site of The 78 - And. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez isn't on it:
The City Council members who represent the three sites and the surrounding communities have all come out against the specific proposals in their backyards. 

Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., 28th Ward, told Block Club Chicago he hoped the Bally’s proposal in his ward would not be chosen. He declined an interview request from WBEZ. 

Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward, issued a lengthy statement opposing the Hard Rock proposal at One Central in her ward. She said it would be “dropped into an existing, well-established family community” and added that even though the developer insists the casino and the megadevelopment are separate projects, it’s difficult to see them as anything but “interrelated projects.” 

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, is against the Rivers casino at The 78 in his ward. “It is clear that the residents of the 25th Ward — 80% of the residents — do not support this proposal,” Sigcho-Lopez said. He is the only alderman who has a finalist in his ward but is not on the special committee. 

Tunney said he wants all Council members to participate in the meetings and said Sigcho-Lopez will not get left out despite not being on the committee.

We're no experts on the inner workings of Chicago City Council or Aldermanic politics, but we'll go the cynical route and say it's harder to influence from the outside.  

If you think all bids have an equal chance of winning at this stage, then we have a 67% chance of a casino landing in our neighborhood.  If you adjust based on simple observations - such as the special council thought above - it seems more likely than not that this big development is coming to the Sloop.  

Should be an eventful spring and summer on this front for the Sloop.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Casino Bids Face Stiff Opposition from Neighbors

Last week was when the three remaining Chicago Casino bids had a chance to further lay out their vision and get public support.  Judging by all the reviews from the meetings, nobody wants a Casino in their neighborhood.

For us in the Sloop, it seems as if this poses a big problem as two of the sites sit squarely in high profile spots in the neighborhood.

Interestingly, one Alderman came out and said he couldn't support the plan in his ward (via Block Club):

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez  (25th) wrote in a letter to a powerful colleague this week that he “cannot support” a proposal for a casino to be built as part of “The 78” mega-development brewing in his Near South Side ward, imperiling the proposal’s chances as it competes with two other plans.

Sigcho-Lopez’s support hinges on the backing of the 78 Community Advisory Council, a group made up of neighbors and community leaders who should collectively be considered a “subject matter expert” in the vetting process for any new development along the 62-acre swath being developed by Related Midwest, the alderman wrote in a letter to Ald. Tom Tunney (44) on Monday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Tunney last week to chair a new Committee on the Chicago Casino, which will head up the city’s consideration of the three remaining casino projects. 

In his letter, Sigcho-Lopez pointed back to a resident survey conducted by the 78 Community Advisory Council that found overwhelming opposition to the casino plan last month. Of the 378 neighbors polled, 78 percent said they were either “highly unsupportive” or “somewhat unsupportive” of Related’s and Rivers’ casino proposal. 

So you're telling me that 78% of South Loop neighbors don't support a casino at the 78 development?  Well that's a funny coincidence.

If you look at the other proposed South Loop casino site - One Central - just west of Soldier Field, it doesn't sound like it went much better (via Block Club):

If the team behind the Hard Rock casino proposal hoped to win over the public, they may have their work cut out for them.

In a contentious Tuesday night meeting at Harold Washington Library in the Loop, residents blasted city officials and company leaders for the lack of details around the project, and questioned how it would affect crime in the area and spur community investment. Some roundly rejected the idea, saying they worried about the scale of the project on the southern end of One Central, a massive mixed-use project covering 32 acres between Museum Campus and McCormick Place. 

Alderman Dowell - who represents that ward - hasn't officially stated where she stands on this project, so in some respect it would seem like One Central currently sits in a better space than The 78 proposal.  That said, she could very well come out and say she's against it.

It also seems like the proposal for the Bally's location on the Chicago River just north of the city also is facing stiff neighborhood opposition.  So should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Apolonia Earns Bib Gourmand from The Michelin Guide

Big shout-out to Apolonia for their recent Bib Gourmand award (via Eater Chicago):

The Michelin Guide announced seven new additions to its Chicago Bib Gourmand list, its annual selection of “good value” restaurants where it’s possible to have a two-course meal plus wine or dessert for about $40 per person. Next week, the guide will announce its starred restaurants on Tuesday, April 5, along with the other 48 spots on the Bib Gourmand list.

Last year’s Chicago Bib Gourmand list consisted of 58 restaurants with 10 new additions. Of those 58, only Pizzeria Bebu, the Lincoln Park thin-crust specialists, is closed.

The new Bib Gourmands are Apolonia, Stephen Gillanders’s (S.K.Y.) contemporary South Loop restaurant; Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, the Wicker Park vegan spot from Rodolfo Cuadros (Amaru); Dear Margaret, the Lakeview restaurant that proves French-Canadian cuisine goes beyond Labatt’s Blue and poutine; Lardon, Logan Square’s popular all-day salumeria; Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, a modern regional Vietnamese spot in Lakeview; Superkhana International, which mixes and mashes up Indian flavors in Logan Square; and Tortello, the Wicker Park pasta shop and cafe.

While they probably wanted a star from the venerable tire company, inclusion in the Bib list is still noteworthy (especially given their proximity to McCormick Place we imagine this will really help their business).

For those not aware, Apolonia sits prominently at the corner of Michigan and Cermak and opened about a year ago and has garnered a lot of positive press.



Monday, March 28, 2022

Donation Requested for PAWS Chicago from South Loop Montessori Student

From a young Sloopin reader and contributor at South Loop Montessori:  

Elementary Pet Supply Drive 
The elementary class at South Loop Montessori is holding a pet supply drive in the month of April. A donation box will be set up in front of the classroom from April 4th to April 29th. 

All items will be donated to PAWS Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter. 

More information about this organization can be found here: https://www.pawschicago.org/ 

PAWs accepts the following supplies: 
● New and unopened: dog and cat food and treats, brushes 
● New or gently used: dog and cat toys, leashes, collars, metal crates, stainless steel food bowls, litter boxes, clean sheets and blankets, clean towels, gallon ziplock bags, paper towels, newspapers, cat litter, dog poop bags, garbage bags

You can email us at sloopin@gmail.com and we can cooridnate with the young student who is trying to get donations.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

City Announces 3 Finalists for Casino Locations ; 2 of them in the Sloop

Looks like two Sloop locations made the cut (via Chicago Tribune):

And then there were three.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has narrowed down the city’s five proposals for its first casino to three finalists: Bally’s at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers at The 78 and Hard Rock at the proposed One Central megadevelopment, the city announced Tuesday.

The three remaining bids advanced by the city may represent the path of least resistance for a Chicago casino. But none has landed without some objections or concerns, which the city may have to confront before it whittles the group down to a single favored plan, which officials said will be by early summer. It would still need to win state approval.

Not going to lie, a bit unfortunate to see that the McCormick Lake Side center cut but seems like that ran into some stiff resistence from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority - the powerful group that runs the giant convention complex.

The proposal for a casino at The 78 seems like the most straightforward of the remaining bids in our opinion.  Although the River North option at Ashland and Halstead (formerly known as the Chicago Tribune Printing Center) also wouldn't be hard to envision.

The one that seems to have the biggest question mark (but maybe the most strategic opportunity for Chicago and Mayor Lightfoot) is the Hard Rock option on the train tracks west of Soldier Field:

Hard Rock is proposing a $1.74 billion casino at One Central, a massive mixed-use project developers hope to build over train tracks west of Soldier Field. The proposal includes a 3,500-seat live entertainment venue, a 500-room hotel and other amenities.

While Landmark Development’s proposed $20 billion One Central megadevelopment may still need $6.5 billion in state funding to get off the ground, the city said Tuesday that the Hard Rock Chicago can proceed independently from the broader development.

“The Hard Rock proposal proposes a phase one where the remainder of One Central does not need to move forward,” said Jennie Bennett, the city’s chief financial officer. “It’s not contingent on state funding.”

The One Central development is massively controversial, complex and seems unlikely.  However, judging by that last quote it seems like this could move forward without full approval of One Centra.

In theory this proposal sits at an interesting spot and one that could help the city re-envision what the Museum Campus and Soldier Field is for the next couple decades. 

It's been well documented that the Chicago Bears are potentially (likely?) going to move to the burbs.  As a result, it's caused city hall to rethink how it can utilize this iconic, but dated building and the area more broadly.  

Could the Hard Rock Casino serve as a shot in the arm for whatever they want to do?  Will be interesting to see what transpires here.  


Monday, March 21, 2022

Student Athlete Controversy at Jone College Prep Sparks Title IX Investigation

Controversy erupts at Jone College Prep over sports, fundraising and power at the school (via Blockclub):

Chicago Public Schools is investigating Jones College Prep for potential violations of federal sex discrimination laws connected to its sports teams, part of a broader conflict at the prestigious school where students have complained of mistreatment and leaders are pushing to fire the longtime principal.

CPS officials confirmed this week the district’s Office of Student Protections and Title IX is investigating the athletic department at Jones, 700 S. State St. The department is probing alleged violations of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs. A spokesman did not offer specifics, citing an ongoing process.

District leaders would not say when they launched a Title IX investigation, but they said the inquiry was ongoing before local school council members contacted the district in February.

Members of Jones’ local school council reported Principal Joseph Powers to the district in February, alleging, among other things, that he allowed conditions to persist where unequal resources were dedicated to boys and girls sports. Council members also contacted CPS officials in December, highlighting what they said was poor oversight for fundraising that made it difficult to ensure money was being distributed fairly for clubs and athletic teams.

The story is pretty in-depth and surely is important for all those involved, but seems to have morphed into something bigger than the original issue.  The mother of the athlete simply said ‘My Daughter Just Wanted To Run’ - and it does seem like she is being used as a pawn here.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Crane Assembly Underway at 1400 S. Wabash 30 Floor Highrise

Via YIMBY Chicago:

Crane assembly can be seen for the 30-story high rise planned at 1400 S Wabash Avenue in South Loop, replacing a long-empty vacant lot. As of now, permits have been issued for the foundation, tower crane, and the superstructure up to the fourth floor.



While it's good to see and learn about progress at 1400 S. Wabash - there were some other bonkers maps within this post.  While One Central development and The 78 are questionable, could you imagine if these "proposed" buildings actually end up getting built.  Look at how much density it would bring to the Sloop:


Does anyone think all of these buildings will be built by 2030?  2040?  It's mind boggling to think about what would have to happen in Chicago to support that much development.  Just seems impractical looking at the landscape today.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Printers Row Fountain is Getting a Facelift and Fix

Good news, looks like the Printers Row park fountain is getting fixed (via Block Club):

The Printers Row Fountain is getting a six-figure facelift, thanks to the Printers Row Park Advisory Council, the Chicago Park District and Ald. Sophia King (4th).

The park advisory council began restoration efforts in September, launching a crowdsourcing campaign to defray the cost of the project with the goal of raising $110,000 to upgrade the lighting, repair pump and pipes, replace colored enamel reliefs and polish the fountain’s bronze highlights.

The fountain, located inside Printers Row Park, 632 S. Dearborn St., was designed by Edward Winhurst in 1999.

It is unclear if the park advisory council met its goal; members couldn’t be reached for comment. But King confirmed that her office would be matching the park district’s $10,000 contribution.

“It was a big priority for the park advisory council, and we’re happy to add resources. Beautification is important, and it brings safety and other positive things to the neighborhood,” said King.

We posted about the drive to get donations back in September and it's great to see this moving forward.  It's a lovely little park!  

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

7-11 on South State (533 S. State) Closing ; A Sign of Bigger Challenges in the Loop?

Mr. South Loop posting about a 7-11 closure on South State:


While one 7-11 closing isn't much news (especially with two other ones in close proximity in the area), it is interesting to see.  Based on the caption it seems like it's a function of lack of business, but also points to a challenging situation on South State further North.  

If you've been North of Ida B. Wells you'll notice numerous storefronts that are empty.  State street was arguably the second biggest "shopping street" downtown behind Michigan Avenue.  While some stores further north are still open the further you go south it gets pretty bleak and desolate.  

This dynamic has always been in place for awhile, but seems like the pandemic has really exacerbated the problem.  The question is - will this bounce back? and if so when?  

There are some major challenges with the loop and how many office workers will return.  It seems like the typical 5 day in-office work experience ain't coming back.  That puts extreme pressure on these retail storefronts.  The value has decayed quickly.