February 2022 Newsletter
SLN Events
Speakers Series: Authors Night
6 pm, Mar. 2
Half Sour
755 S. Clark
Also Zoom

St. Patrick's Day Meet Up
6 pm, Mar. 17
Half Sour
755 S. Clark

Night at
Jazz Showcase
806 S. Plymouth
Speaker Series: Author Night
March 2
Social hour 6-7 pm 
Panel discussion: 7-8 pm
Half Sour
755 S. Clark
Also by Zoom
Meeting ID: 824 2688 5555
Passcode: SLN2022!

Join us and hear from four local authors: 

Beth Finke, Writing Out Loud
Amy Bizzarri, 111 Places in Chicago that You Must Not Miss
Sylvester Boyd, The Road from Money
Greg Borzo, Chicago's Fabulous Fountains

Amy Bizzarri has written four books focused on Chicago history, but her experiences don't stop there. She's a teacher, tour guide and certified wine expert. She lived in Rome for five years and has hosted radio and TV segments. Oh, yes, her great, great grandparents met in Chicago the night of the Great Fire!

Beth Finke is an accomplished author, teacher and columnist, familiar to many South Loop residents because she's a regular contributor to the Dearborn Express, our local online newspaper. She teaches memoir writing, is an NPR commentator and moderates a blog for Easterseals' National Headquarters.

Sylvester Boyd Jr. was born in Chicago and in 1981 founded one of the largest minority-owned advertising specialty companies in southwest Michigan, selling products to major corporations, businesses, colleges and universities. He has worked as a movie extra, motivational speaker and substitute teacher for CPS.

Greg Borzo has written several books about Chicago history, including Chicago's Fabulous Fountain, which features the Printers Row Park Fountain -- a water tosser that currently being renovated. He's also a tour guide, pickleball player, avid cyclist, and member of the South Loop Neighbors board.
St. Patrick's Day Meet Up
March 17
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Half Sour
755 S. Clark

Don your green apparel and shamrock accessories and join SLN for a pint or a bite at Half Sour. This will be an informal gathering and you are responsible for the purchase of your own food/beverages. Perhaps enjoy a corned beef sandwich or a reuben. Please feel free to stop by any time and say hi to your neighbors. 
Planning & Development
Imagining the Future of the Museum Campus
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed a working group to look at ways to “reimagine” the Museum Campus. Of course, central to the future of the area is whether the Chicago Bears will continue to play in Soldier Field after their lease is up.

Two dozen prominent Chicagoans were named to the panel, but no one seems to represent South Loop residents, surprising 4th Ward Alderperson Sophia King. The 23-member “working group” will be chaired by Mesirow Chairman and CEO Richard Price. Former Chicago Plan Commission Chairman Martin Cabrera, CEO of Cabrera Capital, will serve as “athletic facilities lead.” Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann will lead discussions on “open space and recreation.” Poetry Foundation President Michelle Boone, a former Commissioner of the city’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will take the lead on cultural amenities.

Mayor Lightfoot has said she is intent on improving the fan experience at Soldier Field and maximizing year-round revenues. In early February, she discussed roofing over Soldier Field, which would not be a simple undertaking. Although the Bears lease at Soldier Field runs until 2033, Friends of the Park ExecutiveDirector Juanita Irizarry, another member of the select group, told the Sun-Times that she’s assuming “the Bears have already decided to be out the door.”
Tribune Favors Casino Site at The 78
The Chicago Tribune on Feb. 20 editorialized that Rush Street Gaming’s proposal for a casino as part of The 78 was the city’s best option. That’s unlikely to greatly influence city decisionmakers, but the CEO of McCormick Place last week raised objections to the three casino proposals that involve the convention center’s property, and said changes in state law may be needed before its sites can accommodate gambling.

Three of the five casino bids the city is evaluating call for using part of the convention complex, either Lakeside Center, McCormick Place North (temporarily, until a new building can be built as part of the One Central project over the Metra tracks at 15th), or the truck marshaling yards south of the exhibition halls. Any change in their use would disrupt operations and may cost Chicago convention bookings, said Larita Clark, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.

Lakeside Center, the oldest McCormick Place building, has been overshadowed in recent decades by new additions to the complex and its occupancy lags the others. But Clark said it still has significant use, and replacing it would require a new $1 billion hall that would take six years to build.

Similarly, Clark told her board that McCormick Place North was booked nearly to its maximum level in the years before the pandemic knocked out most convention business. The marshaling yards, she said, reduces truck congestion and helps exhibitors and contractors set up and take down items quickly, a competitive advantage.”

The two other proposals being considered are the one at The 78 and one at Chicago & Halsted. Mayor Lightfoot expects to choose a proposal in the next few months and wants the completed casino built by 2025.
Development update
A roundup of what's proposed and underway for the South Loop was the program at last week's annual meeting. You can watch it on YouTube.

The latest information on planning and development in our area can always be found at our website SouthLoopUpdate.org
Briefly noted . . .

Public Safety in the South Loop
2021 Crime Increases in Potential Violence

Chicago’s Loop and South Loop have experienced a significant reduction in reported crime over the past two years. Unfortunately, “Violent Crime”, those types of crimes that have the most potential to cause injury or death reversed that trend in 2021. 
During the “Covid years” of 2020 and 2021, the total number of reported crimes in the Loop and South Loop dropped dramatically as isolation and store/office closings lowered opportunities for such crimes as retail theft, credit card fraud, and pick-pocket.  But that drop didn’t protect victims as much from crimes such as Assault, Battery, Criminal Sexual Assault, Homicide, and Robbery. These specific crime types are used by the FBI to compare standardized results from across the country and are identified as Violent Index Crimes.

Compared to the “pre-Covid years” of 2017, 2018, and 2019, total annual crime reports in the Loop and South Loop dropped by 46% in 2020.  But Violent Index Crimes only dropped by 31%. From 2020 to 2021, total Loop and South Loop crimes increased by 8%, but Violent Index Crimes increased by 26%.

That increase in Violent Index Crimes was most pronounced  in two Police Beats, 131 and 132, which cover from Roosevelt Road to the Stevenson Expressway, a combined 63% increase from 2020 to 2021. The only Police Beat in the 1st Police District that recorded a drop in Violent Index Crimes was a 4% decline in Beat 133, which covers from the Stevenson to 31st Street.

Location Makes a Difference

The 1st Police District covers the Loop and the South Loop down to 31st Street, as well as the portion of the West Loop east of the Kennedy Expressway.  It is divided into 11 Police Beats.

The five Violent Index Crimes had differing results across 1st District. Assault reports increased 29% from 2020 to 2021 with the largest increases in Beats 113 (82%) and 132 (70%). The descriptions of where these crimes occurred was quite mixed.
Battery reports, the most common of these violent types, increased 24%.  Most of these happened in apartments, residences, hallways and stairs.  Battery increased 60% each in Beats 131 and 132.

Criminal Sexual Assault reports increased 60%.  Even though these report numbers were smaller (thankfully) than those for Assault, Battery, and Robbery, this was the largest percentage increase.  Most of these reports were from hotels and motels along Wacker Drive and down Michigan Ave.

Homicide reports remained at six for both years.  In a year when homicides across the city increased dramatically, the 1st District’s 2021 result could be considered good news.
Robbery reports increased 25%, with the highest increases happening in Beats 112 (79%) and 113 (97%), in the heart of the Loop. Only Beat 133 reported a decrease of 17%. These crimes were reported in public locations: streets, sidewalks, and the CTA. 

Violence on the CTA

Police presence on the CTA is under the control of the Department’s Transit Unit, but is supported by officers from the 1st Police District. The increase in violence on and around the CTA has been noted by many South Loop residents. Across the 1st District in 2020, Violent Index Crimes at CTA locations dropped only 21% while total CTA crime dropped 54%.  In 2021, Violent Index Crime reports at 1st District CTA locations actually increased 23% while total CTA crime continued to decline an additional 12%.

These increases in Violent Index Crime reports were most pronounced on CTA “L” trains, stations, and platforms compared to buses and bus stops or to CTA parking facilities. From 2020 to 2021, “L” reports increased 31%, while bus/bus stop reports decreased 31%.
Most of this increase in Violent Index Crimes at 1st District CTA locations occurred at the “L” stations along the Red Line. The accompanying chart sorts out CTA “L” Violent Index Crime reports from north to south.

Chicago Police, Aldermanic Wards, and many other organizations are working together to address this issue. South Loop residents have joined efforts through organizations such as South Loop Neighbors, 1st District CAPS, Neighborhood Watch Beat 123, and 4th Ward South Loop Community Advisory Council.

Recent Past SLN Event

SLN Annual Meeting
Election and Development Update
January 10, 2022

Congratulations to our new board!