Shedd welcomes new whale

(Published July 31, 2019)

The Shedd Aquarium announced Mauyak (MY-yak), a 38-year-old beluga whale, gave birth to a healthy calf on July 3. The entire birth, from the emergence of the baby’s flukes to complete delivery, took 33 minutes. Both mother and calf are progressing well and will remain under 24-hour observation by Shedd’s animal care team for several months. 

Shortly after the birth, the calf swam to the surface and took its first breath, assisted and supported by an attentive Mauyak. The two then began to swim together and bond as Mauyak guided the new arrival around its home. The sex of the calf has yet to be determined. Animal care staff members estimate the calf to be approximately five feet long and weigh about 150 pounds.

Primark fashion opens first Midwest store in Chicago 

Primark is planning to bring its “Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices” to the Midwest for the first time. 

International retailer Primark in July announced it will open its first store in the Midwest in Chicago. Primark has signed a lease with The Georgetown Company for 35 N. State St., the largest lease on State Street since 2014. 

The company has not announced an opening date yet. The location is a former GAP store. 

Primark will take over the entire 45,000-square-foot building and trade from 36,200 square feet of retail space over three levels. Before an opening date is announced the iconic property is undergoing a complete renovation tailored to fit Primark’s specific needs, including modernization of the exterior and complete interior remodeling. 

Located at the intersection of State and Washington Streets, the location is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, entertainment options, cultural institutions and world- famous landmarks. The neighborhood has long been known as one of the top shopping destinations in the United States.

“Primark has been searching for a Midwest location as part of the company’s continued expansion into the United States,” said Tom Meager, Property Director for Primark. “We are fortunate to have found and secured such an impressive location in the heart of the vibrant Chicago market.”

“We recognized an amazing opportunity with the State Street corridor as one of the most sought after retail destinations in the country,” said Adam Flatto from Georgetown. “As one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States, Primark is a perfect fit for the building and will be a welcome addition to a popular list of neighboring businesses in the Loop.” 

Founded in 1969, Primark is a leading fashion retailer headquartered in Ireland. Primark offers a diverse range of the latest trends in women’s, men’s and children’s wear, homeware, accessories and beauty products.

Chicago police report string of thefts in Michigan Ave. stores

According to a warning police issued in July, several groups of young people are targeting Michigan Ave. retail stores for thefts. 

The thefts began in early June, spanned through early July, and were committed in stores in the 400 block of Michigan Ave. According to a news release, in each incident, multiple offenders entered retail stores, loaded merchandise into bags, and exited the store. The offenders fled on foot. In all eight incidents, the thieves worked in the afternoon or evening and the thefts occurred on weekends and on weekdays. 

The police have made no arrests, though the suspects include one-to-six African American adults, ages 18-25 and one-to-three African American women, ages unknown.  

Chicago police urge store owners to keep records of property serial numbers and call police immediately if they are victims of theft and to give officers good descriptions of the thieves. 

Woman sexually assaulted following theft on Randolph Street

A woman had her phone snatched and was then sexually assaulted on Randolph St. between 3 and 3:40 a.m. on July 9.

According to Chicago police, a 27-year-old female was waiting at a Red Line platform at State and Lake when an unknown black male took her phone and started running. 

She chased him down the street and eventually to the 100 block of East Randolph at which point the offender ran into an underground parking garage stairwell. The victim followed and the offender sexually assaulted the victim in the stairwell, and then fled on foot.

No one is in custody, though police describe the suspect as black man, 25-35 years old, wearing long black dreads and, at the time, a red or black hat, a black t-shirt, black pants, black shoes and a dark, multi colored backpack.The victim was transported to Northwestern in stable condition. 

Police are investigating the incident and meanwhile urge residents to remain aware of their surroundings and if confronted by an assailant to remain calm and never pursue a fleeing assailant. 

Carr Workplaces raising funds for education

Carr Workplaces, 200 E Randolph St. 5100, a New Eastside short-term shared workspace, is raising money to help disadvantaged students. 

According to a news release, Oliver Carr Jr., founder of Carr Workplaces, has long sought to address poverty through education. In 2012, Carr created Rising Stars, a private foundation that raises money for schools who provide superior education to children with difficult backgrounds. 

The company’s annual backpack drive raises funds for Rising Stars and all donations are donated to schools to help cover the cost of tuition for a child of limited means.

Through August, anyone can donate to risingstars.org to help pay for someone’s education. 

Three people assaulted on Washington St. 

According to the Chicago Police Department, two people were stabbed and another person was hit July 6 at 11:25 in the 100 block of E. Washington St. 

According to a police report, one black man and one black woman approached three victims, talked with them and then stabbed two and hit the other person. The offenders then ran off. 

The police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the attackers. The male is about 6-foot or 6-foot-one-inch tall and has dreads while the female wears her hair in a braid. 

If anyone is a victim, police recommend calling 911 immediately and if anyone has information about this incident they should call the bureau of detectives at 312-747-8380.

Cirrus releases new interior renderings, expects to break ground in Sept. 

In late July, Cirrus developers began to stage the construction site for the proposed 47-story condo unit. This included installing barricades and fencing, though the groundbreaking is not scheduled until September. 

At present, pedestrian traffic will be diverted, though the project will not yet impact vehicular traffic. 

Even so, LendLease, one of the developers, released some new interior renderings showcasing the views from several of the planned 363 units. 

The units will range from 650 to 3,000 square feet and will be priced anywhere from $400,000 to $4 million and will include one-to-four bedroom plans and two townhome residences at ground level and 15 penthouse units on the top floors. 

Pre-sale for the 211 N. Harbor Drive units started in April, and according to LendLease, sales have been healthy. The Cirrus development will later be joined by two other units. All three buildings are designed by New Eastside’s bKL Architecture.

City council passes stricter drag racing, drifting penalties 

In the last week of July, the Chicago City Council passed Alderman Brendan Reilly’s drag racing and drifting ordinance, which will increase the fines for drag racing and drifting to at least $5,000 to no more than $10,000 per offense.

The ordinance also establishes a $500 fine for operating a motor vehicle with an altered muffler within the City of Chicago. 

Reilly has been working with the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Transportation to combat the issue of dangerous drag racing and drifting on Lower Wacker Drive.

According to a press release, Reilly believes that his new ordinance will help deter drivers from partaking in this illegal behavior, and will assist the Chicago Police Department in combating this issue. 

The ordinance will take effect on Sept. 28.

Grant Park Music Festival to close with Mahler’s ‘Resurrection Symphony’

The 85th season of the Grant Park Music Festival, led by conductor Carlos Kalmar with chorus director Christopher Bell, concludes in Aug. 17 at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The season closes with Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, featuring the award-winning Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus with guest soloists.

Until then, all concerts take place on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Concerts on Aug. 2 and 3 move indoors to the Harris Theater during Lollapolooza. The complete Grant Park Music Festival schedule is available at gpmf.org.

Kalmar conducts the final weeks of the festival beginning with Mozart’s Prague Symphony (Aug. 2-3) featuring violin soloist Vadim Gluzman in a performance of Bernstein’s Serenade.

The Grant Park Orchestra returns to the Pritzker Pavilion with The Mambo Kings, known for their explosive blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz improvisation, for Hot Latin Nights (Aug. 7). The week concludes with the rarely performed A Mass of Life (Aug. 9-10) by Frederick Delius featuring soprano Melody Moore, mezzo-soprano Ewa Plonka, tenor Andrew Staples, and bass-baritone Nathan Berg.  

The final week at the Grant Park Music Festival includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s famed Flight of the Bumblebee, Aug. 14, from his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Amy Beach’s Variations on a Balkan Theme, and Morton Gould’s Cowboy Rhapsody.

Patrons can order one night member passes for reserved seats, starting at $26, by calling 312.742.7647 or going online gpmf.org. and select a seat down front in the member section of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Membership support helps to keep the Festival free for all. For every Grant Park Music Festival concert, there are seats that are free and open to the public in Millennium Park’s Seating Bowl and on the Great Lawn, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

CPD: Woman sexually assaulted following theft on Randolph Street

(Published July 9, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

A woman had her phone snatched and was sexually assaulted on Randolph Street between 3 and 3:40 a.m. July 9.

According to Chicago police, a 27-year-old female was waiting at a Red Line platform at State and Lake when an unknown black male took her phone and started running. 

She chased him into the street and eventually to the 100 block of East Randolph, at which point the offender sexually assaulted the victim, police said. The offender fled the scene.

No one is in custody, police said. The victim was transported to Northwestern in stable condition. Area Central detectives are investigating.

Chicago PD: New Eastside June festivals go off without incident

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Chicago police officers gave New Eastside residents some good news at the monthly CAPS meeting.

Police sergeant Anthony Dombrowski reported June events,  Blues Festival and Gospel Festival, saw few problems, despite drawing large crowds to Millennium Park.

“Things went pretty well in those two events. We had challenges last weekend because there wasn’t just the Blues Festival, there was also a Formula One event at Soldier Field,” Dombrowski said.

In addition, he said the police continue to crack down on people who trespass at Vista Tower. The tower is nearing completion, and Dombrowski said the Vista, which will be one of the tallest buildings in the city, continues to draw explorers.

“We had some incidents at the Wanda Tower” he said, referring to the project by its former name. “We’ve had some young rascals that want to challenge the height of the building. We’ve had people parasail off the building, successfully.”

He said police are arresting people who trespass on the property.

“We had two guys who were intoxicated and decided to climb up the tower,” Dombrowski said. “People in the community started Facebooking this live on their community pages. They did it during the day where it was pretty obvious they were doing it. We arrested both gentlemen who are suburbanites.”

With warmer months, police are also seeing an uptick in drag racing on Lower Wacker Drive. Historically the phenomenon has been a problem and Dombrowski admitted the perpetrators are a challenge for police.

“Frankly, we’re overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s hundreds and hundreds and it’s not the same group every weekend, its different car clubs.”

The drag racing is dangerous for the drivers and for other drivers and it creates noise issues, but Dombrowski said the police have a new strategy to stop the problem before it starts. He told residents that many of the drivers meet in private parking lots prior to drag racing and, if the businesses are closed when they meet, Chicago police are arresting drivers for trespassing. In early June, officers made nine arrests.

“Hopefully it sends a message,” he said. “These aren’t bad kids. These are kids who are into cars and they want to live that lifestyle.”

Dombrowski reminded residents to report any crimes they see or hear. He pointed to some gang graffiti recently removed due to quick reporting from a New Eastside resident.

“If you do see graffiti,” Dombrowski said, “if you can take a picture of it and send it to the alderman’s office and send it to our office and we’ll get rid of it.”

The next CAPS meeting is 6:30 p.m. July 8 at 400 E. Randolph St.

With a message of optimism, Lightfoot sworn in as mayor

By Jesse Wright | Published on May 20, 2019

On May 20, US District Judge Susan Cox swore in Lori Lightfoot as Chicago’s mayor at a ceremony attended by thousands at the Wintrust Arena.

Lightfoot is the city’s first openly gay and African American female mayor, and the significance was not lost of Lightfoot.

“I can’t help but feel the spirit of the late great mayor, Harold Washington,” she said.  Washington was the city’s first African American mayor and he stepped into office in 1983 and left in 1987. Lightfoot’s mention of Washington drew a standing ovation.

But it was a historic day for others, too, as Lightfoot noted. Besides Lightfoot, Melissa Conyears-Ervin was sworn in as city treasurer and Anna Valencia was sworn in as the city clerk. All are African American women and this is the first time voters elected African American females to all three citywide positions.

The city’s aldermen were also sworn in.

For her first speech as mayor, Lightfoot’s message was an optimistic and firm promise to unite the city, and work for the betterment of those who need help. In addition, she promised to end aldermanic privilege after the inauguration ceremony.

“I’m looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child regardless of neighborhood or zip code,” she said. “A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors and where every job pays a living wage. A city of fairness and hope and prosperity for the many, not just for the few, a city that holds equity and inclusion as our guiding principles.”

She made reference to recent anti-abortion laws passed in Alabama, and she promised that Chicago would fight for women’s rights.

“We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices,” she said. “We cannot go back – not in Chicago, not as a nation.  We will join together and we will fight.”

This, too, drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

She also looked inward, at the problems within City Hall, an institution plagued by a history of corruption and she promised reform. She told the audience after the inauguration, she would sign an executive order ending aldermanic privilege, a tradition that allows aldermen to pass or block city government actions that could hurt or benefit their wards. Critics have charged the system allows for corruption, favoritism and inconsistent application of ordinances around the city.

“It means this,” she said. “It means ending their unilateral and unchecked control over every single thing that goes on in their wards. Aldermen will have a voice but not a veto. This is the time of for a new era of trust.”

This promise drew some of the loudest, most sustained applause.

Following the ceremony, City Hall hosted an open house for the public.

Lendlease Development, Magellan pre-selling units at Cirrus

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer|May 1, 2019

Lendlease Development, a leading international property and infrastructure group, along with Magellan Development Group, announced in April the start of pre-sales for Cirrus, a 47-story, 363-unit luxury condominium tower at 211 N. Harbor Drive, along Chicago’s lakefront in the Lakeshore East community. Scheduled to begin construction this summer, with first deliveries in fall 2021, Cirrus is part of a three-tower addition that represents one of the final phases of the Lakeshore East master plan.

“With Cirrus, we’ve worked with our partners to carefully design a tower that complements this idyllic site at the prominent juncture of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River,” said Tom Weeks, executive general manager of development at Lendlease in a press release. “In addition to being thoughtfully placed to maximize views of the lake, river, skyline and adjacent Cascade Park – a public green space for the entire neighborhood – Cirrus fills a void in the new-construction condo market with a range of floor plans and price points that presents a unique opportunity for the downtown buyer, especially in such a prominent location.”

Rendering courtesy Lendlease

Buyers can choose from one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom condos, as well as two townhome residences at ground level and 15 penthouse residences – including one duplex – located on floors 42-47. Units will range in size from 650 to over 3,000 square feet and be priced from the mid-$400,000s to over $4 million.

All residences will showcase one of two curated finish palettes with several alternate options available. Nine-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows will highlight the panoramic views.

Cirrus residents will enjoy 48,000 square feet of exclusive amenities. In the lobby, residents will have access to a 24-hour concierge and lounge with an open, circular fireplace. An adjacent outdoor pool overlooking Lake Michigan will include a deck with seating and cabanas. Other amenities include an indoor pool lounge, private workspaces, conference rooms, a social lounge with fireplace, conservatory overlooking the adjacent park, dry-cleaning lockers and a package room. Additional owner amenities will be located on the 41st floor, including a wine cellar with tasting room, separate show and prep kitchens with a dining area and chef’s corner lounge, and an east-facing outdoor terrace with barbecue and fire pit.

Cirrus will share additional amenities with Cascade, an adjacent 37-story, 503-unit apartment tower that will break ground simultaneously and be developed by the same partners. These common areas, which will be located in a shared podium, include a 25-yard indoor lap pool, heat therapy pool and splash pad; children’s playroom; fitness center with adjacent yoga/spin studio, HIIT training area and locker rooms; massage and steam rooms; game room with golf simulator and billiards; screening room; shop space; music room; multi-purpose community room; dog-washing station; and indoor dog run.

Artists renderings of Cirrus Condominium Tower in Lakeshore East. Rendering courtesy Landlease

Door decoration ban sparks confusion


(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Leanne Fox is a mother of two, Ryan, 4 and Ethan, 3 and like most young children, they like to draw and paint.

Fox, a resident in North Harbor Tower, 175 North Harbor Drive, doesn’t know why anyone would object to her sons’ artwork but in March, she said someone did—her building’s management.

Fox said she had been hanging the artwork on the outside of her apartment door as a way to show off her kids’ artistic ability and the most recent piece had been on display since Mother’s Day of last year when she got an email from her building management.

Fox said most of the email concerned maintenance issues at her apartment and was routine. Until the end.

“And by the way,” Fox said, paraphrasing the email, “The apartment across from you is now vacant and my bosses up there were showing it or looking at it and they noticed you had pictures on your front door and you need to take it down.”

Fox has no idea why. She said she’s not seen any written policy on door decoration and other apartment doors are decorated.

“We hung up a wreath for Christmas,” said Adam Birch, a resident in North Harbor Tower.

His brother, Noah Birch, who lives at the Shoreham, said so far as he is aware, the Shoreham does not have a problem with door decorations.

More to the point, after Fox protested the notice on Facebook, two other residents who live in the building responded that they or someone they know posted children’s artwork without any consequence.

Waterton manages the property, but an executive with the property management company declined to offer any statement or provide clarity on any policies. If Waterton does ban all decorations, they may be an outlier in the neighborhood as several nearby residential units allow decorations.

So, Fox is left confused and her door is left without decoration.

“It’s not religious, it’s not political,” she said. “It’s not offensive. It’s just squiggly lines.”

And Ethan, Fox said, is left hurt.

“He asked, ‘what happened to picture? Mommy no like it anymore?’” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

While Fox has seen no written rule on the incident, she did say an employee at the building warned her the residence could look bad if everyone decorated their door.

“When I repeated again, why him? Why the target? I was told, ‘Well, imagine if every person was allowed to put art or decor on their door, it’d look like a college dorm,’” Fox wrote in an email. “OK. If that is the thought then why allow some and not others? Why target a 3 year old’s picture? Other families have artwork up on their doors as well. So what’s going on?”

With temporary fix, north Lake Shore Drive open again

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 12, 2019)

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two cracked girders on Lake Shore Drive and another cracked girder on a ramp from Wacker to south Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day. Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

At an on-site press conference with CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, she explained the cracked beams were bolstered with four shoring towers.

“This will allow us to make repairs,” she explained. “We expect permanent repairs will be done over the next several weeks.”

The shoring towers can withstand a total of 300,000 pounds of pressure each.

The total cost of the temporary and permanent fix isn’t yet known.

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT engineers are continuing to inspect other girders throughout the road system for cracks.

Northbound Lake Shore Drive is open

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two broken beams on Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day.

Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT says Lake Shore could be fixed by Tuesday evening rush hour

By Jesse Wright Staff Reporter

Some ramps to Lake Shore Drive are open Tuesday after a Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two broken beams on Lake Shore Drive Monday morning.

However, by noon on Tuesday, traffic remained congested as northbound Lake Shore Drive remained closed. Since the problem was discovered just prior to noon, CDOT workers have been working nonstop to repair the street and a CDOT spokesperson said she’s hopeful repairs could open Lake Shore Drive by evening rush hour.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work is going well.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night. The shoring towers under northbound Lake Shore Drive are in place and we are starting to jack them up around (Tuesday morning). The goal is to re-open before the evening rush. However once the road is raised up, it will take additional time to salt and clear ice off the roadway. Safety is the top priority.”

Hofer said updates will continue throughout the day.  


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