Stay ‘inn’ luxury this February with local hotels

by Stephanie Racine

Don’t have time to get away this winter? Take a staycation at one of Chicago’s best hotels. 

The Ivy Hotel, 233 E. Ontario in Streeterville, offers an at-home getaway for Chicagoans. The hotel has spacious and apartment-size rooms, with rainfall showers and deep-soaking tubs. The hotel is offering a special staycation deal for Illinois residents. With a state ID, rooms are 10% off for one night, plus a dessert of choice from the hotel’s restaurants. Options include Divine Lounge’s Carrot Cake or Cookie Sundae. With the discount, a studio queen starts at $98. For information, visit ivyhotelchicago.com.

The Park Hyatt has sumptuous food and spa experiences in February for downtowners looking for an escape. The Chef’s Counter Tasting Menu at The Park Hyatt restaurant NoMI is an exclusive and decadent experience. With just four seats at the counter, the chefs prepare an eight-course meal right in front of you. Menus change every 4-6 weeks and focus on one food group. The current focus is alliums—think garlic, shallots, onions and leeks. The offer is available for $145 per person on the reservation website Tock.

The Park Hyatt’s spa has a “tasting menu” of their own. Pick three spa treatments, each lasting 45 minutes, for a well-rounded relaxation experience. Options include facials, massages and body treatments. Pricing starts at $410 and treatments can be booked by calling the spa at (312) 239-4200.

Hotel Julian is offering romantic “Cultured and Cuffed” packages, during “cuffing season,” a slang term used for the colder months when love tends to bloom. Each package is based on a famous Chicago couple. The Barack and Michelle Obama package includes tickets to the Art Institute and an in-room champagne toast. Hotel Julian suggests their Smart TVs, using personal streaming accounts, to view “Southside with You,” the biographical film based on the couple’s early years. 

The Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone package is based on the Hollywood comedic pair, who met at a writing class in Chicago in 1998. The deal includes Second City tickets and pre-comedy show cocktails at Hotel Julian’s restaurant, ALK. To book one of the packages, email info@hoteljulianchicago.com

The Loews Chicago Hotel staycation offer is for the whole family. The hotel encourages visitors to “get snowed ‘inn’” with them. The package includes valet parking, 20% off restaurant and room service and two free cocktails. For the kids, enjoy one free movie rental (up to $19.99), hot cocoa, a decorate-your-own cookie set created by Loews’ pastry chef and a kid’s pop up tent and “campfire.” Book between Feb. 7-12 and the package will include two free tickets per family for the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. Visit loewshotels.com/chicago-downtown. 

Development reshaping city’s skyline

by Jacqueline Covey

Several skyscrapers marching upward in New Eastside and  Streeterville will soon add thou- sands of square feet of residential,  hospitality and retail space. Vista  Tower, sisters Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  Tribune Tower and an upcoming hotel and apartment tower in a  location dubbed Site O will trans- form downtown Chicago’s east- ern border. For local residents  living amidst the daily hum of construction, completion of these towers is just around the corner.

Vista Tower

363 E. Upper Wacker Drive

Expected to open in 2020, Vista Tower will be the third-largest  building in the city and the tallest designed by a woman—Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang. Another first for the city is a blow-through  on the 83rd floor that helps alleviate wind pressure. The building  topped out in April and currently interior work is being completed. The 101-story structure will house 400 condos and a luxury hotel.

Cascade and Cirrus

197 N. Harbor Drive and 225 N. Columbus Drive

These sisters of Lakeshore East are still in the first of two phases, as the dirt has barely settled since the dual-groundbreaking on Sept. 18. Ted Weldon, executive general manager for Lendlease Development in Chicago, said the first stage of construction  consists of Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  in addition to Cascade Park. Residents will also see work being done to the pedestrian and bicycle path that connects the development to Lake Michigan under Lake Shore Drive. There’s  been interest in Cirrus since pre- sales for condos began in spring,  Weldon said. Visit cirruscondos.com or call (312) 469-8090 for an appointment.

Tribune Tower

435 N. Michigan Ave

Unveiled April 2018, the redevelopment and new construction  project at Tribune Tower began  in 2016 after Golub & Company and the Los Angeles-based  CIM Group purchased the  Gothic landmark and surrounding buildings for $240 million.  The complex will be converted to 162 condos and update the stores below.

The team also hopes to build the second-largest building  in the city. At a Nov. 19 community meeting, Streeterville  Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) and Alderman Brendan Reilly offered details of the plan after residents raised concerns about traffic congestion. Crain’s reported developers have added a  passageway connecting the south and west sides of the building. The through road will mainly serve the hotel, with drop-off lanes and short-term parking.

Site O

Nestled between Aqua and 300 E. Randolph, parcel O is expected to see action in the coming months. Plans include a 33-story luxury apartment building and a 20-story tower that will host two hotels.  

Doggie Dips isn’t a party without water and treats

By Mat Cohen

While overlooking companions playing in Bennett Park, dogs enjoyed treats, their own photo booth, a plethora of tennis balls and a warm pool to think about jumping in.

The annual Doggie Dip hosted at One Bennett Park Apartments on Oct. 26 offered much to see and do for dogs and their loved ones.

Out on the fourth floor terrace dogs enjoyed treats, goody bags made by Pawstreet Pets, a photo booth with toys and the main attraction, the pool.

Although the pool didn’t have many takers plunging head first, most of the attention of the four-legged friends was focused squarely on the water.

Owner Michelle Goldberg happily tried to get the pups in for a dip but a paw or two was all that was getting wet. Millie, Goldberg’s 10-month old Portuguese Waterdog, ironically didn’t want to swim.

“We’re having a lot of fun out here trying to get our dog to swim,” she said. “It’s been a really nice event.”

Ann Caron and Carrie McCormick, realtors in Streeterville, helped to put on the event. Pawstreet Pets, a dog walking and pet sitting service in downtown Chicago, also sponsored the event. . They were handing out goody bags featuring doggie towels, snacks that looked like they were for humans and doggie tennis balls.

Costumes were welcome, although only a few dressed up, including a soon-to-be bride.

For more information about Caron, visit https://www.atproperties.com/agents/1325/ann-caron. For more information regarding McCormick, visit https://www.atproperties.com/agents/2617/carrie-mccormick

Learn more about Pawstreet Pets at pawstreetpets.com.

University of Chicago’s outpatient facility set to open early 2020

by Stephanie Racine and Elisa Shoenberger

University of Chicago Medicine will open a state-of-the-art clinic at 355 E. Grand Ave. in Streeterville in early 2020. The 42,000-square-foot center, which encompasses two floors, will house several medical departments. Primary care, urology, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, X-ray services, women’s care and other services will be provided in the new facility, as well as extended-hour urgent care.

UChicago Medicine has two other clinics in Streeterville, 150 E. Huron St. and 680 N. Lake Shore Drive. Previously, these locations were home to a multispeciality facility at 150 E. Huron, and a women’s health facility at 680 N. Lake Shore. After the new clinic is constructed, these locations will be consolidated into the new Grand Avenue location. It will be the first clinic outside its Hyde Park campus that can provide immediate care, according to a news release.

“This is in recognition of patients’ growing needs to access quality health care when their physicians’ offices are closed or when they need urgent medical attention that isn’t life threatening,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, dean and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago.

UChicago Medicine serves the estimated 387,500 people who live in proximity to the new facility, plus the estimated 62,000 residents in UChicago Medicine’s planning area who commute downtown. 

“This $17 million construction project represents a continuation to develop UChicago Medicine’s footprint and reach, increase access and convenience for our patients, and meet the growing demand for health services in the area,” Polonsky said.

For more information about the new facility, visit uchicagomedicine.org.

Hotel plan for 227 Walton meets local resistance

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Would-be developers of a condo at 227 E. Walton got an earful from angry neighbors at a community meeting in August.

The property is a historically significant 13-story, 25-unit condominium and developers with BRAD Management would like to turn it into an extended-stay corporate suite.

The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents organized the meeting and Alderman Brian Hopkins attended. He said he wanted to hear community feedback from the proposal. The development first came to light in June at a SOAR land use meeting, and since the plan was floated, residents have opposed the possibility of turning a condo into a hotel. Hopkins acknowledged the unpopular proposal early in the evening.

“We’re starting the discussions to see if there’s anything that can be done to make this more palpable to the community,” Hopkins said at the top of the meeting.

Harry Weese designed the building 63 years ago and the city deemed the property a landmark in 2012. Because of that status, the developers cannot alter the outside significantly, and two spokespeople assured the community that wouldn’t happen—but that assurance didn’t go far.

Community members said they were concerned introducing a hotel—even an extended stay hotel—would invite strangers and trouble into the neighborhood.

“We moved in here because it’s a neighborhood and because it has a neighborhood feel,” a man said. “I would hate to think that because it’s a neighborhood building, we can’t live in the neighborhood and can’t have the environment we enjoy. We don’t want to have transients coming in all day long and all week long.”

Michael Monu, one of the spokespeople on behalf of the developers, tried to assure the community the hotel would not attract rowdy crowds. He said the hotel would not allow overnight stays and would average stays of four-to-five nights at least. He added that the lobby would have cameras and noise meters and that individual units would have decibel meters and marijuana and cigarette meters. Finally, he said, guests would be screened through a background check.

Still, residents said a hotel would drive down property values and one woman said she was afraid the development would “ruin this neighborhood.”

However, Graham Grady, a lawyer for the development team, said the building has limited potential as a residence.

“There’s not a great market demand for large, two-bedroom units,” Grady said. “If you lower the rent too much it’s not going to operate in the black for too long.”

By the end of the discussion, few—if any—residents seemed convinced and Hopkins said he, too, would wait and see whether or not the developers would agree to address community concerns before he would sign off on the project.

“They have to convince me as well as everyone else in this room,” he said.

Hopkins did point out that the city could include deed restrictions on the property that would limit not only how the current owners developed the project but how the property could be forever used in the future—meaning even if the property is re-zoned, it would still be held to certain restrictions in line with community support.

The next step in the process will be in mid-September, when the developers are scheduled to file a zoning map amendment application, though city council action on the project is still months away and tentatively scheduled for some time in December. In the meantime, Hopkins’ office is seeking community input, and residents can weight through his website, www.aldermanhopkins.com.

Navy Pier breaks ground on first pier hotel

(Published July 31, 2019)

Developers broke ground in mid-July on the first hotel on Navy Pier. ACRON, a real estate investment firm; Maverick Hotels & Restaurants, a hotel management and development company and Navy Pier are developing the project. 

The property, scheduled to open spring 2020, will operate under the exclusive Curio Collection by Hilton, which includes more than 50 independent hotels around the world.

The new hotel will be located adjacent to Festival Hall at the eastern end of the complex. The hotel will offer 222 guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase views of the city’s famed skyline, Lake Michigan and the Pier. The hotel will also offer a first floor restaurant, a fitness center and a 30,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant, bar and event space.

Officials said the hotel development has already led to 600 construction jobs and is expected to create 300 permanent positions.

Kaliflower restaurant launches on Michigan Ave.

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Next month New Eastsiders will see a new restaurant in Kaliflower, a fast-casual spot that offers healthy options packed with flavor.

Owner Ben Arnstein said his 333 N. Michigan Ave. restaurant is a passion project for him and his fiancee. Arnstein, a former management consultant, travelled a lot with his fiancee and, by necessity, they ate out a lot. He said, it was awful.

“We’re eating out almost every meal and we’re travelling a ton and there weren’t a lot of options that were flavorful and had spices and warm options that were also healthy options,” Arnstein said.

The tired of eating salads or settling for burgers and pizza for every meal either. From that, the idea of Kaliflower was born.

The restaurant will offer bowls and salads as well as sides, like daalafel, a baked lentil dish with chickpeas, cilantro, parsley and a hint of jalapeno. It will be served with a side of cucumber and mint yogurt.

The bowls are equally flavor-packed. One of the offerings is the path to enlightenment bowl, which includes daalafel, roasted carrots, marinated lentils, cucumber and red pepper salad, marinated kale, creamy avocado yogurt, finished with chopped cilantro and lemon garlic vinaigrette dressing.

The bowls and salads are $11.50 and all of it, Arnstein said, will be fast and ready to go for area residents and professionals.

“It is fast casual, so there will be almost no seating,” he said. “It is designed to take away. We’re really focusing on quality food and a good value price point.”

Arnstein said he designed the menu himself with a chef advisor, and the selections combine flavors he and his fiancee are familiar with.

“My fiancee is first generation Indian on her mom’s side,” he said. “The spice road type flavors are something I grew up eating.”

Arnstein said Kaliflower is still under construction and he doesn’t have an opening date yet but is hoping to launch in mid-to-late June.

Roberts Pizza and Dough Company to re-open May 10

May 1, 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Write

After a year of searching for the perfect new home, husband and wife team Robert and Dana Garvey are reopening Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company in Streeterville. Located at 465 N. McClurg Ct off the Riverwalk, Robert’s Pizza will continue the pair’s commitment to contribute to the pizza landscape of Chicago and showcase their signature ‘Za Dough’– a 20-year-in-the-making, family dough recipe perfected by Garvey himself. To celebrate its highly-anticipated return, Robert’s Pizza will be giving away one free slice of pizza per guest from the to-go counter between 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on May 10.

“The Streeterville neighborhood is our home and where we launched our pizza journey,” says Garvey. “It was important for us to find a location that would allow us to grow operationally, while still serving our community. We’re thrilled to be bringing back our pizza and can’t wait for Chicago to try our new menu items and experience our new, expanded location.”

Robert’s Pizza will continue to offer its classic rotating lineup of up to 15 gourmet brick-oven pizzas, “create-your-own” pizzas with toppings from select premium ingredients and the signature Robert’s Pizza Flight. Local favorites returning to the menu will include The Lia, Peking Duck, Huevos Rancheros, Prosciutto and Arugula and the nightly special Seafood pizza.

The warm and intimate environment seats 142 and includes banquette seating, an 18-seat bar, a private dining room for up to 12, and outdoor and dock-side seating for 70 during patio season.

Robert’s Pizza will be open for dinner Sunday – Thursday from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. and until 11 p.m. for Friday and Saturday dinner service. Delivery will be available via Chow Now, Caviar and the restaurant’s direct website. For more information on Robert’s Pizza, please visit www.robertspizzacompany.com or call (312) 265-1328. Robert’s Pizza is also available for special events.

A look at One Bennett Park

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With work wrapping up, developers of One Bennett Park said residents of the upper floor condominiums will begin moving into the property in March.

Floors one through 39 opened in November.

The 70-story project gives Streeterville one of the tallest buildings in the city and will add hundreds of residents to the 451 East Grand Ave. location.

Tricia Van Horn, vice president of marketing and communications for Related Midwest, said her company is no stranger to the Streeterville area.

Related Midwest has developed highly successful apartment and condominium buildings in Streeterville for more than two decades, including 500 Lake Shore Drive, and we know it’s a terrific place to call home,” she said in an email.

Van Horn cited the neighborhood’s history and proximity to retail, transportation and cultural institutions as attractive features for developers. She said she expects the One Bennett Park development will be a good fit.

The building was designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), and Van Horn said the exterior reflects a classic, historic style.

“One Bennett Park, Related Midwest and RAMSA have created an all-residential, heirloom building whose design pays homage to the city’s beloved pre-war architectural heritage. A limestone podium, formal motor courts, ornamental metalwork, vertical setbacks and a lantern ‘crown’ distinguish the building from most new construction towers,” she said.

The exterior might look old-school, but the inside amenities are modern. Apartments and condominiums range from $3,700 to $18,500 per month, with floor plans from 905 to 3,323 square feet.

Residents will have access to fitness and wellness facilities located on the third and fourth floors. These include training studios, a club-level gym with cardiovascular and strength equipment, a 60-foot indoor pool and a 10,000-square-foot deck overlooking Bennett Park with an outdoor pool, fire pits and grilling stations, Van Horn said.

The third and fourth floor amenities include a children’s play area, prep and catering kitchens, and a “tween room” with games, televisions and modular lounge seating.

Additionally, the two-acre Bennett Park is expected to open in summer 2019. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, the creator of Maggie Daley Park, the park will lie adjacent to the property and include a playground, dog runs and meandering pathways, Van Horn said.

The park will be closed certain days each year for One Bennett Park residents to hold private events.

As of February, units were still available. Contact a Related representative at www.onebennettpark.com for information.



The things in your home really should bring you joy

By Urban Real Estate

Winter in Chicago is the perfect opportunity to stay inside and tidy up. With the popularity of organizer-extraordinaire Marie Kondo’s Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” many are turning closets inside-out with the goal of finding happiness while decluttering.  

In real estate, decluttering ensures that a prospective buyer can “visualize” themselves in a space, so that a buyer is less focused on your life, and more focused on the home. The bonus is that living in a residence that looks and feels great is a win, all the way around.

Kondo’s six-step method is both a physical and emotional journey. The importance of loving your space isn’t just about the walls you live in – but also the momentos that share your home, as well. Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with Urban Real Estate, sees clients who struggle with what to do with belongings.

“When we are preparing a home for sale, all things will need to go at some point, so we recommend starting that packing process before we bring buyers in the door,” Emery said. “The goal behind bringing joy to your home is compounded with emotionally being prepared to remove a loved one’s belongings who has passed, clothes that simply don’t fit or you will never wear, or items from your children that simply need a new place other than your front closet,” Emeray adds.

As you declutter, think about how you want to use the items in your home. Some things you might want to keep, but it may not be necessary to keep them in your home.

“That’s what storage facilities are for. Think about what could go where, what you might keep for a second home or investment property, or what could be better used by someone else you know, and proceed confidently,” Emery added.

Contact us at Urban Real Estate for a consultation on the resources we have for organizing and staging, or for your next home. UrbanRealEstate.com or (312) 528-9200.

[Winter is a great time to declutter a home. Photo courtesy Urban Real Estate]

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