January 2022 Newsletter
SLN Events
Speakers Series: Authors Night
6 pm, Feb. 2
Half Sour
755 S. Clark

Night at
Jazz Showcase
806 S. Plymouth
The South Loop Neighbors would like to wish you a very happy and safe New Year!
Speaker Series: Author Night
Feb. 2
Social hour 6-7 pm 
Panel discussion: 7-8 pm
Half Sour
755 S. Clark
Also by Zoom

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.
Planning & Development
Odds are good for a South Loop Casino
Three of the five proposals for a Chicago casino are in the South Loop: at McCormick Place, as the initial phase of One Central, or over Wells south of Roosevelt as part of The 78.

Rush Street Gaming, operator of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and six other casinos across the Rust Belt, proposes a large contemporary architecture gaming and entertainment complex that would actually span over the 1300 block of a new Wells Street. This proposal also includes a 1000-foot observation tower (with glass elevators!) near the river. 

In a separate proposal, Rush Street has partnered with Farpoint Development to propose redevelopment of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, the building east of Pointe du Sable Lake Shore Drive, into a casino.

Hard Rock International proposes a casino as part of One Central, the air rights development envisioned over the Metra railyard at 15th & Indiana. At a December 10 public hearing on casino proposals, the team said it was prepared “to proceed immediately” to construct the casino on its own, without the state funding developer Landmark Development has asked for to build the One Central transit and retail hub. So far, state officials have been noncommittal but chilly about providing such funding.

The other two sites for which proposals were received are the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing plant near Chicago and Halsted, and the McCormick Place truck marshaling yards south of I-55. However, Ald. Sophia King has said for years she wouldn’t give her approval to a casino near Bronzeville.

As a large attraction both for visitors and suburbanites, both road and transit access will need to be improved to any of these sites. South Loop Neighbors will look closely at the offsite impacts of the proposals, and try to influence decisionmakers—but the city is counting on casino revenue to buttress future budgets. Mayor Lightfoot expects to choose a proposal in the next few months and wants the completed casino built by 2025.

New tower for 630 S. Wabash
An 18-story mixed-use tower is set just north of Columbia College’s new student center on Wabash. Holding 151 units and 332 bedrooms, the co-living and student housing tower would also include 3,000 square feet of retail space. Surprisingly, 80 parking spaces would be provided for residents. The $68 million development is within the current zoning, meaning that no city review or approvals are required. Melrose Ascension Capital is the developer; architect is Antunovich Associates. The property has been an empty lot since 2006, when fire destroyed the Louis Sullivan-designed Wirt Dexter Building, a Chicago Landmark that housed the George Diamond Steak House.
Second building for Aspire
A 12-story apartment project at Wabash and Cermak will be the second phase of the Aspire complex. The 150-foot-tall building will rise just south of the developer's 24-story Aspire apartments, which opened in 2020. Previously, a hotel was expected to be built here. The site was previously occupied by a muffler shop and was used as a staging area during the construction of Aspire. The new building would contain 150 rental units (including 15 on-site affordable units), ground-floor retail, and parking for 74 cars. The project’s developer is Draper and Kramer; the architect is Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

Margaret Hie Ding Lin Park redesign
Construction began in fall on reconstruction of the pocket park under the L at 18th and State. The small basketball-focused park is being upgraded with new lighting, trees, bleachers, new asphalt on the full court, addition of a half court, new fencing, an ornamental gate, and ADA ramps. 
Cannabis dispensary at 2114 S. Wabash
An application has been filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals for a cannabis dispensary at 2114 S. Wabash, in a building that recently housed the Tommy Gun’s Garage dinner theater. The application does not require aldermanic approval, but 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell will include discussion of the project in her South Loop Town Hall meeting, online only, at 6 pm, Tue., Jan. 18. Register for the Town Hall Zoom at https://bit.ly/3HZr107 
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 . . .

Recent Past SLN Event

SLN Annual Meeting
Election and Development Update
January 10, 2022

Congratulations to our new board!