Illinois couples now option for collaborative divorce

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

On Jan. 24, the Jenner & Block firm hosted a celebration of the passage of the Collaborative Process Act in Illinois a year prior. Collaborative law professionals met to honor their work in the advancement of collaborative law in Illinois and Chicago.

Divorce may not be easy, but in Illinois, the process can be less burdensome when couples use collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is different from litigation and mediation. Through the process, a team of professionals trained in collaborative law, including attorneys and divorce coaches, come to an agreement outside of court. A judge ultimately signs off on the agreement, but the focus is not the amount each party can get.

“It is an interest-based process and focuses on the goals of each individual,” collaborative attorney and mediator Rita Ghose said. The goal is not necessarily what the parties are entitled to legally, but is about what is most important to each side.

“Each party signs an agreement that is binding to commit themselves to the collaborative process and not bring it to court,” Ghose said. If one of the parties decides to break the agreement and litigate, new attorneys must be hired. The entire process is private and not a part of public record.

“We have been working on collaborative law in Illinois for about seven or eight years,” attorney Carlton Marcyon said. The process has been law for just over a year and advocates say it’s working out well.  

“Collaborative law is beneficial to litigants, it’s faster, less costly, and there’s less consternation between parties,” Marcyon said.

The collaborative law process can often lead to better communication between spouses and can be better for any co-parenting endeavors, according to Marcyon.

“The collaborative process is the most supportive way to go through a divorce,” divorce advisor Karen Covy said. “Everyone is on the same page to serve your goals, not the attorney’s goals.”

To learn more about collaborative law, visit collablawil.org

Published on March 15, 2019

Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopens after repairs

(Published March 14)

By Jesse Wright

After being closed for months for repairs, Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopened its doors on March 8.

The popular New Eastside bar and grill, at 225 N. Michigan Ave., was packed by 5 p.m. that day and longtime fans said they were happy to have their favorite spot back.

“I had come here about a dozen times before it reopened,” customer Ken Goncharoff said.

In the two months since the restaurant closed, construction crews added stainless steel accents, more seating options, including more bar seats, and an updated ceiling.

But Goncharoff said he didn’t notice most of it because his favorite parts of the bar are unchanged.

“To be honest, it looks the same,” he said. “The bar looks different and the ceiling looks different, but I love the atmosphere here. That’s why I come here, and that hasn’t changed. I liked it before and I like it now.”

Sweetwater is gearing up for a massive St. Patrick’s Day patio party March 16.

The bar and grill will open at 9 a.m. and will offer green beer, bagpipes and Irish food, including corned beef Reuben, shepherd’s pie and corned beef poutine.

For more information, visit sweetwatertavernandgrille.com.

Tough and hearty, the tradition of tulips along Michigan Ave. celebrate city’s spirit, history

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

All along Michigan Avenue, flower boxes sit, topped with a layer of pine boughs and inches of snow, ice and street salt.

They are as gray as winter skies.

But, buried within the boxes are bulbs—thousands of tulips and hyacinth bulbs—ready to erupt into a riot of color just as soon as the mercury allows.

The seasonal routine began in the early 1990s, an initiative of Mayor Richard M. Daley and business leaders on Michigan Avenue as a way to spruce up the busy thoroughfare. In the decades since, the flowers have become nothing short of a national phenomenon.

In 2016, the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded the city and the Michigan Avenue Streetscape Association its Landmark Award for 20 years of Magnificent Mile blooms.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Mike Claffey said the flowers have found fans in cities far and wide. CDOT is now in charge of the planting program.

“Many cities have reached out to CDOT for background on how to launch a similar planting program—including New York City and San Francisco,” Claffey said in an email. “When Gavin Newsom (now governor of California) was mayor of San Francisco, he asked for and was given a tour of Chicago’s tulips on Michigan Avenue and he asked a number of detailed questions about the program.”

Maintaining the 2.3 miles of Michigan Avenue included in the program is a big job.

Claffey said each November the city plants 110,000 bulbs on Michigan from Roosevelt Road to Oak and the southern section where the planters are bigger, from Roosevelt to the river, includes 78,000 grape hyacinth.

Over eight days in November, a 10-person crew of A Safe Haven workers plant the bulbs. A Safe Haven Foundation employs at-risk youth, veterans and people recovering from substance abuse. This year’s tulip varieties are show winner, margarita, orange emperor, double negrita, apricot impression and pretty princess. Later, the beds are covered with pine boughs to protect the bulbs from extreme cold.

The flowers must be chosen carefully, as not too much can survive Chicago’s winters which can be downright arctic, even without polar vortices. But, Claffey said, when the bulbs bloom, usually in early April, it’s a treat for Chicagoans.

“They represent the spirit of Chicago,” Claffey said, adding that the city’s motto is urbs in horto, Latin for city in a garden.

“It’s a way to celebrate another winter is over in Chicago and the toughness of the city,” he said.

By May, however, it is over and the city replants the planters with summer selections. But the bulbs live on.  

“They’re transported to the Garfield Park Conservatory where each year the public is invited to pick up a bag of tulip bulbs in late May for the low, low price of zero dollars,” Claffey said.

A look inside 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.

Spark joy with organizing tips from Chicago’s experts

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

With spring warmth just around the corner, it’s time to clean house and local pros have some advice.

Monica Friel, president and founder of Chaos to Order, a Chicago-based organizing company, recommends decluttering the house twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, to keep on top of the clutter.

Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying emphasizes discarding anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” The method suggests going through items by category (books, clothes and so on) and touching each one. If it sparks joy, keep it—then, once you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t want, you can organize the rest.

Friel said Kondo’s Netflix show has resulted in an uptick in her business.

“I think it’s great that Marie Kondo has inspired us to declutter and get rid of things that don’t bring us joy.”

While Kondo’s methods don’t work for everyone, Friel said getting rid of excess baggage is healthy. “I believe that the clutter that accumulates in and around our homes really weighs us down, and it’s kind of a burden that you carry,” Friel said.

Terri Albert of The Chicago Organizer said the KonMari Method doesn’t tend to work well for her clients because they often need more hands-on coaching.

Instead of “sparking joy,” Albert uses three words with her clients: need, use and love. Items that you need in your life, use regularly, and have a strong attachment to can stay. Everything else can be thrown away or donated.

The time it takes for someone to go through their entire house varies, so Albert suggests setting a timer and working for 15 or 30 minutes at a time. “People will be very amazed that they can get a lot more done if they really focus,” she said.

As for staying organized, Albert said it’s necessary to have a realistic “baseline,” or vision of what your ideal space looks like.

Albert said changing habits is hard but can be done by taking baby steps.

“A good one is to open up your mail every single day, immediately recycle the junk mail, immediately enter important event dates in your calendar, and if you can’t get to the rest of it, attend to the rest of it as soon as you can,” she said.

Tavern at the Park to close in March

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After nearly 12 years as a New Eastside staple, the Tavern at the Park will close.

Owners of the popular restaurant, 130 E. Randolph St., completed the deal with Sterling Bay in December. The restaurant is expected to close in March, though partner Peter de Castro said he’s not sure when the last day will be—they have to be off the property by March 29.

“It’s kind of a moving target for the closing date. It depends on how much staff is left,” he said. “As soon as we decide we don’t have the staff to do things to our standards as we’ve always done them, we’ll make that decision and close it from there.”

De Castro said he and the other partners hadn’t planned to sell but Sterling Bay, the group that owns Prudential Plaza, approached the partners and made an offer. De Castro had mixed emotions about closing up shop.

“The decision was tough for staff because we had to give them 60-days notice, and so you want to make sure you take care of them,” he said. But from the financial side, it was an easy choice.

“A 12-year-run is a long run for a restaurant. At that point you have to talk about major remodeling anyway to stay fresh, and that shuts you down,” he said.

The news was especially tough on some longtime customers.

Robert Ogonovich said he’s been visiting the restaurant for years—practically since it opened—when he visits his daughter, who works downtown.

“I always pop in for a drink, when it’s convenient,” he explained.

This month he will have to look elsewhere, and said he is open to exploring the neighborhood.

“I’ll just have to find another place close to here,” Ogonovich said. “I’ll have to survey the neighborhood.”

Looking ahead, de Castro said he doesn’t know what he will do next. He has owned restaurants since 1987, but he said the industry is tough right now. A low unemployment rate is driving up wages for staff, and the city’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $13 an hour this July.

“I don’t know what will happen next,” he said. “There aren’t plans to do anything yet, but that could change tomorrow. I think we’re going to take a log off the fire and sit back.”

Kids focus on Ferris wheels at CAC’s Engineering Fest

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published on Feb. 23)

Melissa Degroot had not visited the Chicago Architecture Center before Saturday, Feb. 23.

But she picked a good day to go with her four kids—all weekend long the center is hosting the seventh annual engineering festival.

It’s a festival aimed at teaching kids how and why the manmade world in Chicago works the way it does

“These kids love building things,” Degroot said, as she watched her kids build model Ferris wheels.

The theme of the engineering fest focused on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, so kids could design Ferris wheels, play with staff—the building material used to cover the exposition’s temporary buildings—and learn about trusses and arches, among other things.

Sophia Monroy and Gabriel Monroy work on a Ferris wheel at the Chicago Architecture Center. Photo by Jesse Wright

By noon Saturday, hundreds of parents and kids had visited the festival and hundreds more are expected through the end of the weekend.

Angela Esposita, the senior manager of education for the CAC said the festival started as a way to end national engineering week and as a way to get kids interested in the built world and focusing this year’s festival on the 1893 exposition made sense.

“We’re celebrating the 125th anniversary of the fair,” she said. “Well, actually, that was last year but the exposition opened a year late, too, so we’re right on time.”

Organizers had planned the exposition to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1492.

Besides building materials, kids had access to professional critics.

“After they build Ferris wheels, the kids have structural engineers test the strength of their wheels and give feedback,” Esposita said. “Access to experts is what we’re all about.”

Besides hands on crafts, kids also got tours of the CAC and outdoor tours had been planned, though the rain cancelled those plans. Still, Esposita said the event is a great way to get parents in the door to see what the center can offer throughout the year.

“This is a small sample of what we do all year long,” she explained. “This is a good way for parents to get a taste of what the Chicago Architecture Center does.”

The event is free for members and $6 for non-members and kids under 14 get in free.

In May kids will compete in the Newhouse Architecture and Design Competition and the registration deadline is April 18. The CAC also offers family build time Sundays, 10-11:30 a.m.

The center is located at 111 W. Wacker Dr. For more information, visit their website at architecture.org.

Anonymous wedding proposal written into New Eastside Snow

An anonymous person on Feb. 19 shoveled a proposal in Maggie Daley Park's snow. Photo by Jesse Wright

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 19, 2019)

Although Valentine’s Day is in the rearview, love is still in the air in the New Eastside.

Shortly around noon Tuesday, Feb. 19, a person began shoveling snow in Maggie Daley Park, eventually spelling out a wedding proposal.

The proposal is visible from the 51st floor of the Aon Center at the New Eastside News’ new Carr Workplaces offices.

It’s not clear who shoveled the message, but by 5 p.m., no one had shoveled a reply.

‘Chicago Fire’ shoot ties up Stetson Avenue

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published on Feb. 15, 2019)

Although passersby might have been shocked to see an SUV rammed into the side of a commercial truck, on Stetson Avenue Friday, it wasn’t a bad accident. In fact, it wasn’t an accident at all. Stetson Avenue was blocked off Friday for shooting Chicago Fire, a popular television drama currently airing its seventh season on NBC.


Chinese New Year kicks off in New Eastside

On Saturday, Feb. 9, New Eastside residents kicked off Chinese New Year with a celebratory lantern procession followed by lion dancing and skating demonstrations.

The celebrations started at 5 p.m. and wrapped at 7:30 p.m.

This is the Year of the Pig and more events are planned Feb. 16 at the Navy Pier.

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