Police warn Streeterville residents of cell phone thefts

Police are warning residents of a string of cellphone thefts from people in the Streeterville area.

In each of the six robberies, a group of one to four male teens and young adults approach the victims and forcibly grab cellphones from their hands, Chicago police said in a community alert.

They either run away or leave in a black four-door car, police said.

The robberies happened in the evening hours of:

  • Jan. 28 in the first block of East Ohio Street;
  • Jan. 21 in the 600 block of North Wells Street;
  • Jan. 9 and 10 in the 300 block of East Illinois Street;
  • Jan. 9 in the first block of East Huron Street; and
  • Jan. 5 in the 500 block of North Rush Street.

Anyone with information was asked to call detectives at (312) 747-8380.

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group offers expert care and a friendly environment

By Elizabeth Czapski with North Michigan Avenue Dental Group

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group’s motto is simple: “We change lives by creating beautiful smiles.” The practice, run by Dr. Sanya Kirovski and Dr. Maryann Kelly, offers preventative, restorative, implant and cosmetic dental procedures in an office with large windows overlooking Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower.

The dental group’s core values are clinical excellence, outstanding customer service, and a pleasant patient experience. This has been the case since it was founded in the 1950s, Dr. Kirovski said. “When I took over the practice, I wanted to preserve the style of dentistry we had as well as implement new technologies and move forward,” she said. “We are highly talented and stay current with our knowledge about materials, techniques and technologies that help us diagnose and deliver the highest quality of care possible.”

The dentists at North Michigan Avenue Dental Group take a team approach to care, especially when it comes to restorative procedures. They work together with highly-skilled specialists to change the lives of patients for the better. “Restorative treatment in conjunction with orthodontics, periodontics and endodontics is a life-changing patient experience. The physical and emotional benefits of the restorative procedures dramatically improve patient’s self-confidence, which has a positive emotional impact on their lives,” Kirovski said.

When working with patients, Kirovski said, the goal is to evaluate the patient’s needs and use conservative treatments to preserve his or her own teeth as long as possible. From basic cleanings to full mouth restoration, “we want our patients to know that we are clinically excellent and provide quality materials, techniques and esthetic and functional results that will last. Also, we would like our patients to know we care for them, they trust us and know that we will help them make right decisions for long-term health,” she said.

Everyone who works in the practice ensures the office’s atmosphere is positive and friendly. “We have designed our dental space with an anxiety-free dental experience in mind.
The office is intimate, our team is friendly and the vibe is fun. We treat every one of our patients like friends and family and take time to explain treatment options and cost and to answer all questions,” Kirovski said.

“We spend a good part of our morning reviewing our entire day and discussing patients’ needs and desires,” said patient coordinator Katherine. “We strive to make patients’ visits as personable as they want.  In order to achieve that, from the moment they walk in, we are prepared to see them. I think it’s a very warm feeling to be part of our practice and makes the experience for our patients better. Not a lot of offices do that.”

Dental hygienist Kasia agreed. “My favorite part is making lasting relationships with my wonderful patients that come back for their dental visits,” she said. “It’s really exciting to them to see that you remembered, and it’s very personal—it’s not just another number, another patient. It’s a whole relationship.”

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group “Your smile is our inspiration”

845 N Michigan Ave, Suite #953W 312-337-3543
info@nmadental.com bestcosmeticdentistchicagoil.com


Doctors Sanya Kirovski and Maryann Kelly sit on the expansive plate windows of their North Michigan Avenue Dental offices. Photo credit Nakai Photography]

Snow superstars clear the way at the Aon Center

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

It’s a big building, in a big city, so it’s no surprise that when winter comes, it’s a big job keeping the Aon Center’s perimeter free of snow and ice.

How do they do it? With people and preparation.

Every winter, the Aon Center employs Harvard Maintenance to keep the property dry and safe during even the worst weather. It starts with a plan. Each shift leader decides who and what is needed for the job, depending on the weather.

“Lakeside buildings generally receive more snow than properties inland, so we communicate forecasts and keep our response dynamic in case additional resources or manpower are needed if a storm worsens beyond what was estimated,” said Harvard Maintenance senior director Karen Camerano.

Project manager Kate Krolicki said security at the Aon Center reaches out when the snow begins to fall downtown and a crew is assembled to salt, scoop and dry off the paths using a squeegee.

It’s no easy feat to keep feet dry, and it takes a toll on even the most experienced workers. “Our employees have to be in the cold for long periods of time, so we educate them on frostbite, exhaustion and other potential health concerns,” Camerano said.

Pro-tips:

For those who like a walkway as immaculate as the Aon Center’s—but can’t afford employees to do it for them—Camerano emphasizes readiness. She recommends putting down salt immediately and shoveling before the end of a snowfall. “We aim to never let the snow accumulate to a level where shoveling or lifting the snow becomes too arduous,” Camerano said.  


The Coast upgrades amenities room in latest improvements

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Since summer 2017, when Morguard took over management of the Coast apartments in Lakeshore East, the management company has been improving the property one project at a time.

In January, management announced an improved amenities space: the commons area for residents at the 345 E. Upper Wacker Drive property.

“Loren Stanton was the designer, and he did a fantastic job on that,” said Laura Collins, community manager for Coast at Lakeshore East. “We made it very user friendly. There are ports everywhere for people to work on laptops there. We have new TVs and a new shuffleboard, and we got a coffee service there.”

The apartments house more than 700 residents when at capacity. Collins explained that as residents turn over, Morguard is overhauling the apartments as well.

“Last year we did about 20 unit renovations,” she said. “And then this year we’re slated to do 75.”

Those improvements include new tile, backsplashes, paint, roller shades and cabinets. The company has already upgraded the residency’s entryway and soon, Collins said, they will upgrade the gym and the pool area as part of the ongoing project.

The building got three new grill stations in August, and plans for all new pool furniture are in the works, she said.

Residents made good use of the new grills.

“They saw use all the way through early December,” Collins said. “We had people running out there to grill steak and running back.”

To find out more about Coast at Lakeshore East, visit rentcoast.com.

[Since 2017, Moreguard, the owner of the Coast at Lakeshore East, has been upgrading the apartments. Recently they completed work on the amenities room. Photo courtesy Moreguard.]

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Waiting for a heart in Streeterville

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Jessica Venditto is waiting for a heart.

The 24-year-old woman was born with a heart condition known as pulmonary atresia, meaning her right ventricle didn’t develop properly. As a result, one of the most important organs in her body can’t do its job.

For Venditto, the road to a healthy life has led her to Streeterville, where she has found hope, friendship and one of the best medical teams in the world. Even though the wait for a new heart may take years, she is optimistic.

The heart condition has led to five surgeries and a pacemaker. Each surgery has been met with complications, making each operation more risky than the last. Venditto has the use of one lung after the other collapsed, and she’s developed end-stage liver cirrhosis, an occasional risk for patients who have childhood heart disease.

This isn’t the first time she has beaten the odds.

In 2010, the Long Island-based family got bad news. Debbie, Venditto’s mother, said her daughter needed a Fontan procedure, a tricky type of heart surgery. Without the surgery, her daughter would die, but Debbie said doctors in New York worried performing surgery in a patient so weak might prove fatal anyway.

“They couldn’t do it,” Debbie said.

The Venditto family began looking for a doctor who could work on their daughter. They found Dr. Cal Backer at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“He’s the one who saved her life,” Debbie said.

Dr. Backer said the Fontan procedure is complicated, but at Lurie, the staff is used to complicated.

“We’ve done more than anyone else in the world,” Backer said of the procedure.

The 2010 surgery was a success. Things were looking up.

Until Venditto took a turn.

In 2016, Venditto developed liver cirrhosis and today, at stage four, doctors say she desperately needs a new heart to heal the liver. But again, no one in New York City would work on Venditto.

“We reached out to many hospitals,” Debbie said. “Everyone said it was too risky, she wouldn’t make it. The hospitals in New York wouldn’t do it. But Dr. Backer feels he can put a new heart in there and it will rejuvenate the liver. … We know it’s a risky procedure, but it’s our only option.”

Dr. Backer said this is a common story at Lurie Children’s Hospital, which offers one of the top pediatric heart transplant programs in the country.

“The program has been active for 30 years,” he said. “Last year we were number two in the country for pediatric heart transplants. We get some of these most complex cases that have been turned down elsewhere, and we have patients from the other side of the world in our unit right now waiting for transplants.”

Waiting for a new heart means moving to a new home, because when the heart comes in, the patient must go into surgery immediately. Debbie and her daughter left the family in Long Island and moved to Streeterville in August 2018.

In Long Island, the family had a home. But in Streeterville, the Vendittos didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know how they could afford an apartment that would accommodate mother, daughter and Debbie’s parents in addition to a mortgage back in Long Island.

They found Gail Spreen, a realtor with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty.

“I knew relocating here would be a financial burden, but on top of it all we had to get an apartment, and that’s why God brought us Gail Spreen,” Debbie said.

Spreen heard the Vendittos’ story and was determined to help them find an apartment that was the right fit.

“When I met the Vendittos, I understood what they were needing and looking for in their housing needs. I knew it would be a unique find,” Spreen said. “They were so incredibly honest, wonderful people and Jessica’s story [was] so heart-warming, that I had to see what I could do to help them.”

Spreen was looking for a condo owner who would appreciate their situation, and she found just the couple, the Standfords.

“They were also from New York,” she said. “After everyone met and worked out the details, we got the Vendittos moved in and now part of the fabric of Streeterville.”

“A win-win for all,” Spreen said. “Besides, how could you say no to smiley Jessica and her caring mother, father and wonderful grandparents?”

With that, the Vendittos moved into the 474 North Lakeshore Building.

“It’s beautiful,” Jessica Venditto said. “I love seeing the Ferris wheel everyday.”

“We love Streeterville,” echoed Debbie. “It’s so amazing. … If my husband’s job could relocate, I would move here. Everyone is so much nicer. I don’t want to slight New York, but come on, everyone is so much nicer. It’s our home away from home all because of Gail Spreen.”

The task now is finding a heart.

Originally, Venditto was categorized as 1A, meaning she was at the top of the list for heart donations. Debbie said they might have waited only six months for a heart. But after a rule change because of her age, she was moved to the fourth category, the category for adults.

“It’s going to take years to get a heart,” Debbie said.

Dr. Backer said he hopes the Vendittos’ situation inspires people to become organ donors.

“I think organ donation is extremely important,” he said. “Organ donation takes place during very sad circumstances, but often there could be something good that comes out of it for the family who donates their loved one’s organs.”

In the meantime, the Vendittos are asking people to contribute to a GoFundMe account. Over the past two years, the family has depended on donations.

“We used all the money for medication that wasn’t covered by insurance,” Debbie said.

To contribute, visit gofundme.com/Jessicavenditto.

[Jessica Venditto holds a handmade pillow designed by a family friend. The pillow reads, “Every day is a great day,” which is a personal motto of Venditto’s. Photo courtesy Debbie Venditto]

A gem on Jeweler’s Row: Hamilton Jewelry makes it special by hand

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Along Wabash Avenue, between East Washington and East Monroe, sit 350 jewelers.

This two-block stretch of downtown is Jewelers Row, Chicago’s historic diamond district, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. Still, Kailee Swift’s Hamilton Jewelry stands out, her store a cut above the rest.

With her store nestled in the art deco Mallers Building at 5 S. Wabash St., New Eastside resident Swift has been quietly burninishing her reputation—and wowing clients—for decades by custom designing perfectly personal pieces.

Swift has been creating custom jewelry since she opened Hamilton Jewelry in 1997. Despite the Internet bringing a fundamental change in how people shop, Swift has kept with her handmade, traditional approach. It has served her well.

Swift offers a personalized, full-service experience. Due to her location on Jewelers Row, she can easily connect with goldsmiths who work nearby.

“I have more control and can oversee the projects firsthand,” she said. “Also, there is no need to ship jobs or have a messenger as retail stores do. Everything stays right here, which saves time and money.”

The hunt for the perfect piece of jewelry can seem daunting.

“Everyone’s afraid they’re going to be ripped off,” Swift said, “so I want people to trust Hamilton.”

Kevin and Allison Carnahan are longtime clients of Swift’s.

“I first used Kailee for Allison’s engagement ring,” Kevin said. “When I got there, I knew next to nothing about diamonds or bands or how diamonds were set. Kailee was able to explain the different diamond characteristics to help me design the perfect ring.”

“We love working with Kailee,” Allison added. “She is patient and she produces beautiful customized jewelry that you are excited to show off.”

Besides custom designs, Swift can also help with repairs and appraisals and help customers find a specific vintage piece.

Swift loves educating customers on just about everything jewelry-related.

“People come in so nervous,” she said, “I try to keep them at ease, provide tons of education and help them relax.”

In addition to serving her regulars, Swift is a familiar face at holiday shows, trunk shows and charity events.

“I love to give back, and [fundraising] is something that I hold close to my heart,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on quality, exceptional value and service over a lifetime,” Swift said.

Visit the store online at hamiltonjewelryinc.com.

Dave and Busters Watertower Place plans dead

Staff reports

A proposed Dave and Busters plan to put the popular sports bar franchise inside Watertower Place is dead after considerable outrage from the residents in Streeterville.

The company had already signed a lease with the owners of Watertower Place.

On Jan. 14, Alderman Brian Hopkins announced that due to mounting public pressure, he would not support the company’s plans and he said Dave and Busters management agreed to stay out of Watertower Place. Hopkins added that the company never submitted any 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 potential rowdy or drunken incidents.

Police seek public’s help in IDing ‘flash mob’ suspects

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After a group of unknown young men attacked a group of bystanders and destroyed public and private property in Streeterville, Alderman Brian Hopkins is asking for the public’s help is identifying the suspects and one property group is cracking down on unaccompanied minors during the weekend.

On Dec. 29 a group of young males attacked people around Michigan Avenue and Chicago Avenue and Chicago Avenue and State Street. Hopkins called the attacks the work of a “flash mob.”

“The 18th District patrol officers responded immediately and appropriately, but unfortunately, they had no advance warning that such a large group of youth was assembling and therefore the police were vastly outnumbered,” Hopkins said in a statement. “Some time passed before reinforcements could arrive and regain control of the streets.”

In response Water Tower Place, one of the larger shopping centers on Michigan Avenue, 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. “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.”

Meanwhile, Hopkins said if anyone in the public has any information about the suspects or the attacks, they should call the police at (312) 747-8380 with reference case JB-571818.

Streeterville activism might make Chicago a little quieter in 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Year—and every year thereafter—should be a bit quieter for Chicago residents due to a noise ordinance that goes into effect Jan. 1.

In August 2018, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a noise ordinance allowing ambulance drivers to use their sirens only when necessary to warn pedestrians and drivers or in the case of medical emergencies. The law only applies to Illinois cities with populations greater than one million, so it applies in no other cities outside Chicago.

Before the new law went into effect, ambulances drivers were required to use sirens on the way to and from calls, regardless of traffic or pedestrians or whether it was a medical emergency. The law passed because of the efforts of Streeterville residents and Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill.

The representative said the law is a win for residents. “This bill is a critical measure addressing quality of life and safety for downtown residents, where excessive siren noise can cause erratic driving patterns and permanent hearing loss,” Mitchell said in an email. “The new law allows first responders the discretion to turn off their sirens on occasions when the patient or situation has stabilized.”

Residents, too, are excited. Debby Gershbein, president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, said the law is the result of SOAR activism. While she praised Northwestern as a world-class medical institution and for a time the only level-one trauma center in Chicago, she said the medical facility also led to a lot of noise. “The ambulance drivers were putting their sirens on even if it wasn’t an emergency and we decided we really had to do something about it,” she said. “We worked with the government and the fire department, and SOAR did surveys with other neighborhoods, and we found that the number one problem with noise for residents was sirens.”

Gershbein said the problem was near constant. “This is a quality of life issue where people were being interrupted 24 hours a day with the siren noise,” she said. “I think we’ve come to a good solution with the new law.”

Gershbein praised Mitchell as well as neighborhood aldermen Brian Hopkins and Brendan Reilly for their support. She said noise is more than a nuisance, and excessive noise can damage health.“There are physical impacts that occur when you’re exposed to loud sirens all the time. It wakes people up, and disturbed sleep is a really big health problem,” she said.

Gershbein said the SOAR group will continue to work for quality of life improvements, such as an ongoing greening effort, to improve the health of trees in the neighborhood. “In an urban environment it’s important to make sure we have as many trees as possible,” she said.

For more information, visit the group at soarchicago.org.

The best places to see and be seen with Santa in Chicago

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

 

Adults may dream of a white Christmas, but for many kids, the holiday evokes another color altogether as a trip to see the old man in red is almost compulsory. Luckily, children in and around the downtown area have plenty of options:

 

Water Tower Place

The shopping’s never been better at Water Tower Place, a Mag Mile institution, and this year just as in years past, Santa will be around to meet with kids and pets. Reservations are encouraged to avoid a wait and there are various theme nights—like pajama night—so be sure to scroll through the options to get the perfect fit. To find the best night for your schedule and to make a reservation, check www.celebrateyourholiday.com

 

The Driehaus Museum

This popular destination has added Sunday dates for Santa. Kids under 2 are free, tickets for kids up to 12 are $15 and adult tickets are $20. The tickets include activities like sing-a-longs, story times and family fun. Anyone interested should get tickets as soon as possible, as several dates have already sold out. For more information, check the museum website at http://driehausmuseum.org

 

Soldier Field Breakfast with Santa

For a full morning with the big man, why not sign up for breakfast with Santa at Soldier Field on Dec. 8? Adult tickets are $50, $25 for kids ages 4-12 and free for younger kids. The tickets include a train display, an ornament contest and a cookie decorating area for children. This event includes a toy drive, so be sure and bring a new, unopened gift for a child in need. For more information, call (312) 235-7063 or email SoldierFieldBistro@aramark.com

 

Shedd Aquarium Breakfast with Santa

The Shedd Aquarium is offering a full morning of fun with Santa every weekend leading up to Christmas. Ticket prices vary for members and non-members, but the event includes breakfast, crafts, a Polar Express train ride and parade, an aquatic presentation and more. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org/

 

Macy’s State Street Santa Events

Breakfast no good? Well, Macy’s has the solution for parents who want more options. The State Street department store is offering breakfast, lunch and/or dinner to folks who need some variety in scheduling time to visit Father Christmas. The events run through the month. For more information, visit http://macysrestaurants.com

 

Skate with Santa at Maggie Daley Park

Anyone who wants to get the kids out and about could do worse than this free opportunity to get the kids out on the ice with Santa at Maggie Daley Park in the heart of the New Eastside. On Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon, kids can lace up and hold hands with the jolly red elf. For more information, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com

 

Swissotel’s Santa Suite

The hotel admits their newly-renovated Santa Suite is over the top, so expect to be wowed on the 41st floor by sights, sounds and decorations. The suite is open through Dec. 23 and tickets begin at $15 for individuals, and family packs can be had for $40. For more information, visit www.swissotel.com

 

Other places to find Santa

If you still can’t get enough Santa, follow the merry fellow as he travels through Chicagoland and beyond. This month, Santa will be visiting a number of nearby suburbs, and families can visit him in a variety of places. For more information, check out www.santainchicago.com

 

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