Area businesses lend a hand to help Girls Scouts sell cookies

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Girl Scouts are busy selling their famous cookies all over downtown Chicago while partnering with local businesses that provide warm spaces where scouts can sell extra boxes through the end of March.

Troop 20461, from South Loop Elementary, recently sold cookies at Pinstripes in Streeterville on a blustery Saturday morning. Troop co-leader Angelica Prado helped set up, and fourth grade troop members Mia Prado and Katie Boone sold to Pinstripes customers.

“My favorite part of selling Girl Scout cookies is asking people to buy our cookies,” Mia said. “Even if they say no, they know who we are and they can tell more people about the cookies.”

“I like selling Girl Scout cookies because it teaches me to set a goal and try to complete that goal,” Katie added.

“The girls decide on a cookie goal and work to reach that goal,” Katie’s mom and troop co-leader Aimee Boone, said. Troop 20461 set their goal for each girl to sell 100 boxes of cookies.

At the end of cookie season, the troop can decide what to do with their share of the profits, which is about 90 cents per box.

A portion goes to a charitable donation of the troop’s choice. Troop 20461 will be donating to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls this year. They also vote on something fun to do as a troop, as a reward for all the hard work they do during cookie sales.

Girl Scouts will set up booths at select locations until the end of March. Troop 20461 will be back at Pinstripes, 435 E Illinois St., March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On March 2, they will be selling cookies at Sod Room, 1454 S Michigan Ave., from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Inviting them to sell at Sod Room helps shift the ownership back to the child,” Sod Room owner Cynthia Valenciana said. “That’s hard in today’s climate, and there’s so much power in that.”

For a list of cookie booth locations, dates and times, visit the Girl Scouts’ website, girlscouts.org, and use the “cookie finder” to locate nearby booths.

Streeterville, Gold Coast residents hear plans for new Pisor project

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In January, Streeterville and Gold Coast residents got a peek at a proposed 22-story, 12-unit building David Pisor plans to build at 12 W. Maple St.

Pisor, a longtime Chicago developer, said the project will look unique and fashionable and offer a private club and an Italian restaurant, among other amenities. He also projected that the building would bring 500 jobs into the area once complete.

The new tower is set to stand 330 feet tall, and each residence will occupy an entire floor, with an expansive penthouse on the top floor. Designed to be slender—just 50 feet wide—on one side, but long on the other, the facade will be lined with vertical plates of glass to give passersby a streamlined view. “Optically, it’s going to be a very special-looking building. It will be something you’ve never seen before,” Pisor said.

Residents raised concerns about the building’s height and whether it would cast shadows on Mariano Park. While Pisor did concede his building will be tall, he said the building will not cast shadows on the park.

“Of all the things that could be put there, this is incredibly beautiful,” he said.

Curfew enforced at Water Tower Place to mitigate youth ‘disruptive behavior’

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In response to a flash mob attack in December on Chicago Avenue in Streeterville, Water Tower Place issued a notice Jan. 3 that it will no longer allow anyone under 18 to be on the property without the presence of a parent or an adult over 21 on Fridays and Saturdays after 4 p.m.

“In an effort to eliminate disruptive behavior by unsupervised youth, we made the difficult decision to implement a curfew program at Water Tower Place,” said Mitch Feldman, senior general manager of Water Tower Place, in a press release. “The PGR program is intended to help provide a safe, peaceful experience at our shopping center. All are welcome at Water Tower Place and at any time. We simply require that during certain weekend hours, families shop together and guests under 18 are accompanied by an adult.”

Police have posted security camera still images of those involved in the flash mob attack across social media. Hopkins said if anyone has any information about the suspects or the attacks, they should call the police at (312) 747-8380 with reference case JB-571818.

Dave and Busters, Watertower deal is dead

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

A plan to open a Dave and Busters sports bar franchise inside Water Tower Place is dead after Streeterville residents expressed outrage at the proposal. The company had already signed a lease with the owners of Water Tower Place, according to Water Tower Place spokespeople.

On Jan. 14, Alderman Brian Hopkins said that due to mounting public pressure, he would not support the company’s plans and that Dave and Busters management agreed to relinquish the lease on  Water Tower Place. Hopkins added that the company had not submitted an application or a plan proposal to the city.

At a community meeting in December 2018, residents complained of the noise they feared Dave and Busters would bring, as well as the potential for rowdy or drunken incidents.

According to a spokesperson for the company that owns Water Tower Place, they are still seeking tenants for the space.

“While disappointed with the outcome, we remain committed to evolving Water Tower Place into an all-encompassing destination offering the best in shopping, dining and entertainment,” said Lindsay Kahn, a senior manager of public relations at Brookfield Properties. “Our community deserves an amazing experience at our shopping center, and we are currently exploring different uses that would fit well in the available space. We look forward to sharing more information soon.

The Oriental Theater gets new name

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Chicago’s Oriental Theatre opened May 8, 1926, and 93 years later it’s undergoing a name change. After Feb. 12 the theatre will be known as the James M. Nederlander Theatre. The transformation includes the construction of a new marquee, Curbed Chicago reported.

The Nederlander family is known for owning theaters across the country, including the CIBC Theatre at 18 W. Monroe St., according to the Chicago Tribune. New York has its own Nederlander Theatre, named by James M. Nederlander to honor his father, David T. Nederlander. James, who died in 2016 at the age of 94, will be honored by his son, organization president James L. Nederlander, by the renaming of the Oriental Theatre at 24 W. Randolph St.

Lyric Opera releases 2019/2020 season lineup

Staff reports

The Lyric Opera of Chicago released their 2019-2020 lineup which includes a mix of drama, comedy and of course music.

The season will highlight a complete Ring cycle in April with package purchases now available to all members.

The Ring, the ambitious series of four epic operas by Richard Wagner, is considered one of the most significant works in the Western canon. The story revolves around a magic ring which grants power to rule the world which characters based loosely on Norse sagas and a German epic poem. It will be conceded by Sir Andrew Davis and directed by David Poutner.

Besides the Ring, the Lyric will also stage Verdi’s Luisa Miller as part of a multi-season showcase of Giuseppe Verdi’s work. Other familiar operas will include The Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly.

Besides the classics, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking will make its Lyric premiere. The opera is based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean with a libretto by Terrence McNally.
This year’s Broadway musical will be the Lyric debut of 42nd Street.

Lyric regulars will note Sondra Radvanovsky will return this season in main stage performances of The Queen of Spaces and the concert The Three Queens.

Another beloved artist, Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel will return to the Lyric stage for the first time in 15 years for a recital.

For more information about any of the performances, visit lyricopera.org or call (312) 827-5600.

The top Chicago openings for 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Year will bring new developments to the city. Here are the top new developments residents can look forward to this year.

Hotels

1.     Actor and New York developer Robert DeNiro is coming to Chicago. DeNiro’s development team is opening the Nobu Hotel in December 2019 along Restaurant Row. In addition to luxury hotel rooms, the property will boast a street level Japanese restaurant and a rooftop lounge.

2.     The Hotel Essex has been working on its Michigan Avenue property for a while now, and it’s expected to open in May of 2019. Located at 800 S. Michigan Ave., across from Grant Park, the hotel will be in the heart of the city and offer 254 rooms.

4.     The Hilton brand will open another Homewood Suites in downtown Chicago in May. This one will be across from Grant Park at 1101 S. Wabash Ave., within easy walking distance to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

Restaurants

1.     Some of the top names in Korean food are coming to the city. Dave Park and Jennifer Tran operated Hanbun in Westmont until early 2018, and now they’re looking to open Jeong at 1460 W. Chicago Ave. Park offers a modern take on Korean food in a fine-dining space, and Jeong will hold about 40 people.

2. James Beard Award-winning chef Zach Engel’s Israeli restaurant Galit is nothing if not ambitious. Engel will serve up the usual pita and hummus, but he will also feature Midwestern produce to combine the familiar with the foreign against a formal dining background. Galit will open in Lincoln Park at 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.

Residencies

1.   New for the New Eastside, the Vista Tower project is expected to wrap up this year. At 1,191 feet, the tower has 101 floors and at floor 47, there is an outdoor pool, a reservable kitchen and a wine-tasting room.

2.    Nema, at 1200 S. Indiana Ave., will be completed this year. The building will offer 76 floors and 800 units and stands 887 feet tall and the luxury apartments are sure to make a mark on the South Loop.

3.    In Streeterville, the One Bennett Park building at 514 N Peshtigo Court is already open, but on the top floors of the luxury apartments, the work continues. However, the 70-story building will be completed in 2019 after the final condominiums are finished.

Young Professionals Streeterville mixes services with mingling

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

This November saw the start of something in Streeterville when the first meeting of Young Professionals Streeterville kicked off.

The group is in part the brainchild of Mario Hollemans, an attorney, who was installed as president of the group, though he is far from the only young professional eager to kick off a networking group in Streeterville for the under-40 set.

Vice President Casey Doherty said he’s lived in the area since graduating from college in 2017. These days he is in law school and hopes the organization will give young people an opportunity to socialize and volunteer in the neighborhood.

“There is a strong young demographic in the neighborhood that wants to give back. We wanted to showcase the talents of young people and we wanted to create a vibrant community of young professionals in the neighborhood.”

Doherty said that while the group is a younger demographic, it is professionally diverse. Another member, Dr. Valerie Mayuga, is a physician who is also in charge of the group’s philanthropic efforts, and Doherty said it’s just nice to know people who share common interests and hobbies.

“It’s nice to have strong community connections,” he said.

Hollemans said he did little to plan the group; the whole organization sprung more or less fully formed by the membership who wanted to formalize something. That said, the group will hold monthly mixers to attract more members and to network—but also to do more for the neighborhood.

“There are a lot of young professionals in the neighborhood looking to give back,” said Doherty. “I think young people have always wanted to get involved and give back to their communities, and recent times have shown how important that really is.”

Anyone looking to get involved with the group can email Hollemans at ypstreeterville@gmail.com or check out their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/YPStreeterville.

 

[The Young Professionals of Streeterville meet monthly, as they did at this gathering in Nomber, to socialize and plan events for neighborhood improvement and development. Photo by Jesse Wright]

Parcel O’s a go as plan commission OK’s design

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

The Chicago Plan Commission approved plans for a high-rise building at 193 North Columbus Drive, also known as Parcel O.

The new building will be about  610 feet tall and contain space for residential units and hotels. There are also plans for a green roof that will allow the building to become LED Silver certified.

During the hearing, an attendee asked about how many jobs the new structure will create and the number of affordable housing units, and another person expressed concern about the large number of parking spaces created with the construction of this building.

Alderman Brendan Reilly listed aspects of the project that he believed would be beneficial to the surrounding neighborhood. Reilly announced these improvements in late September, they include numerous traffic changes and improved lighting, as well as:

– A pedway connection through Village Market and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the greater pedway network.

– A new traffic signal at Upper Columbus Drive and East South Water Street.

– Public elevators connecting the upper level of Columbus Drive to intermediate lower and park levels.

– At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, a curb bump-out on the southwest corner to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distance on Columbus Drive.

 

Treasure Island grocery chain to close all stores

Treasure Island, the 55-year-old Chicago grocery, announced it is closing.

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Reporter

 

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago grocery chain Treasure Island announced to employees in late September every store will close.

The Streeterville store is located in the 680 North Lake Shore Drive building.

“Me personally, I’m really sad to see it go. It kind of, I felt like we were a little family here. I bonded with some of the employees there so I’m sad to see it go,” said Joi Taylor the manager at the Ace Hardware in 680 North Lake Shore.

Employees did not answer the phone or return a comment by press deadline and a company spokesperson said, “I am sorry I have no comment on that, before hanging up the phone.

It’s not yet clear what will replace Treasure Island inside 680 North Lakeshore Drive and Marc Killips, the general manager of the building, did not return a comment by press deadline.

According to a story in the Chicago Business Journal, the chain has six locations around Chicago and began in the city 55 years ago.

The place to go when you want to put a lid on it

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

Wherever there are sports teams, there is passion—and for the passionate, there are
hats. For New Eastside sports fans, Lids, 175 N. Michigan Ave., is the place to go.

Based in Indianapolis, Lids sells hats in more than 1,000 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The clientele at this Lids location is diverse, said assistant manager Justin Gordon. “We get a lot of international shoppers, and then we have a lot of residents from the South Side and West Side of Chicago,” Gordon said. He added it’s also a favorite of locals.

Lids, 175 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

Gordon said there’s often a morning rush, with a line outside a half hour before the store opens. He said the most popular items are fitted Cubs and Sox hats. “People love those. Those always are flying off the racks, and we always have to replenish them,” he said. With fall just around the corner, Gordon said customers have been looking for bucket hats and beanies.

When the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, demand for Cubs gear soared sky-high.

“This store got really good numbers off the Cubs,” Gordon said. “Any place that was selling Cubs anything was packed. It was crazy.”

Lids also offers custom embroidery with anything from Chicago stars to a favorite player’s name and number, Gordon said.

Lids can also add kingpins to the hats, with numerous design options available.

A White Sox and Bears fan himself, Gordon said he has about 300 hats from Lids. Ryan Kaul, from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, was visiting Chicago with his family and bought a Durham Bulls hat to add to his collection. His younger brother J.T. bought a Brewers hat.

“I collect hats, and it’s an easy, good way to bring something back to Wisconsin from Chicago not Cubs-related,” Kaul said.

Yvonne Fernandes, who is from Australia and lives in the U.K., was in Chicago because her husband was attending a conference.

“I was sent by my children to go look for hats, for Cubs hats, apparently,” she said as she searched through the Lids displays for the perfect hat to take home.

When asked if the Cubs are popular in the U.K., Fernandes said, “I have no idea. I just do as I’m told.”

truCrowd connects companies and investors in city’s startup scene

By Elizabeth Czapski | Community Contributor

Published July 31, 2018

Crowdfunding can be used to raise money for anything from financing a film or helping people in need. Now, one company, truCrowd Illinois, figured out how crowdfunding can launch startups.

“The easiest way to describe it is if you’ve heard of Kickstarter [or] Indiegogo where you can put money in a project and maybe get a thing, a t-shirt or a hat or some experience or even a product,” said Florence Hardy, 36, CEO of truCrowd Illinois and COO of the national platform. “What we do instead of that, is that if you [invest in] a business…in return you get ownership in that business.”

Located at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, truCrowd, which also has branches in Florida and Texas as well as a national platform, requires startups to complete an application process to be listed on the site. Companies that make the cut need to be “willing to take on debt or sell equity,” not just look for donations, Hardy said. They also need to have a goal of at least $50,000 and have a solid management team.

The startup scene in Chicago is small, but vibrant and dynamic, Hardy said. truCrowd accepts all kinds of startups and Hardy described the platform as “industry agnostic” with companies ranging from entertainment to transportation to finance. She explained the most successful companies tend to be ones that are, “looking for consumers as their end user and not other businesses.”

One thing the companies do have in common though is size. truCrowd specializes in pairing smaller companies with investors whom Hardy said are, usually individuals who are used to investing, but they never had the opportunity to invest in small businesses before.”

The main goal of the platform is to “democratize the investment landscape” and to “introduce investment opportunities to the masses” because “investing in private companies was once something that was only for the very, very rich,” Hardy said. truCrowd also wants to help startups get funding when they might be denied by banks or other institutions.

Published July 31, 2018

Joffrey Ballet dances its way to new attendance records, ticket revenue

By Julie Whitehair | Community Contributor

Published July 4, 2018 

The Joffrey Ballet’s 2017-18 season was its highest-grossing season in the Chicago-based dance company’s 62 years, with attendance for the season also reaching a record high, according to a press release.

More than 100,000 people were in attendance for the 2017-18 season. The Joffrey—which is based at 10 E. Randolph St. but also tours—earned more than $7.7 million in ticket revenue, showing an 11 percent increase compared to the year prior.

“I am incredibly proud of the Joffrey dancers and staff for producing art of the highest quality,” Artistic Director Ashley Wheater wrote in the press release. “One of our goals is to engage people through diverse programming, whether it be a classic like ‘Giselle’ or a wild adventure like ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ There is much more to come in the seasons ahead.”

The company attributes its feats largely to the successes of Lola de Ávila’s “Giselle” and Alexander Ekman’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The productions grossed more than $2.3 million combined and earned spots in the Joffrey’s top five best-selling productions, excluding “The Nutcracker.”

Executive Director Greg Cameron said in the press release that the Joffrey is remaining loyal to its founder, Robert Joffrey, by honoring both the classics and the new.

“The numbers tell a story of success, though I assure you that our work is far from finished,” Cameron said. “Focused planning will keep the Joffrey at the forefront of the local, national and international world of dance.”

Earlier this year, the Alphawood Foundation awarded the Joffrey a one million dollar grant to fund a three-year project focused on expanding and sustaining its audience as the company grows.

Completing the 2017-18 season was Christopher Wheeldon’s production of the winter favorite “The Nutcracker”—which exceeded $4.6 million in ticket sales—and “Modern Masters,” the Joffrey’s program of various modern works.

St. Jane Chicago Hotel opens

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

The St. Jane Chicago Hotel opened July 1 in the famed Carbide & Carbon skyscraper, 230 N. Michigan Ave., in the former home of the Hard Rock Hotel. The hotel includes 33 floors with 365 guest rooms, 33 of which are higher-end suites.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the number of rooms was reduced from 381. Becker Ventures retained ownership of the hotel and, together with
the Aparium Hotel Group, they rebranded the hotel as the St. Jane Chicago Hotel.

“Chicago deserves this beauty, and the Carbide & Carbon building deserves to be as impressive on the inside as much as it’s inspiring on the outside,” said Carrie Meghie, principal at Becker Ventures, in a press release.

According to Kevin Robertson, the co-founder and CEO of Aparium Hotel Group, The St. Jane hopes to be a destination for tourists and residents alike with its amenities, restaurants and event spaces setting it apart from other Chicago hotels.

“The hotel will be home to Free Rein, a contemporary American brasserie from Michelin-starred chef Aaron Lirette, a 24th floor lounge, market cafe and 11,000 square feet of meeting space,” said Jordon Aluise, the hotel’s public relations director.

Free Rein will be a New American all-day dining facility, with French influences. It will feature locally sourced food and drink, like Chicago-based Dark Matter Coffee and Arize Imperial Kombucha.

The St. Jane will also give back to the community. “The 365-key hotel will embrace the arts and culture that define Chicago through local partnerships with Marwen, educating and inspiring young people from under-resourced communities through the visual arts,” Aluise said.

According to their press release, they plan on hosting many charity events in their event spaces.

For more information, call the hotel at (312) 345-1000 or visit their website, Stjanehotel.com.

1 2 3