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.