Traffic congestion something to get used to

by Mat Cohen

At the New Eastside CAPS meeting, which is now the first week of the month, community members discussed traffic clogs, pedestrian safety and an increase in construction in the neighborhood.

A resident said that due to the construction of three new condos in the neighborhood, there are construction vehicles speeding in and out of New Eastside, where she likes to walk her dog.

“We need a plan because construction is only going to increase,” she said. “There’s no regulation, no signals, no signs—they’re speeding in and out.”

She also stated that the construction is creating a place where the homeless are gathering—on the steps at the end of Randolph Street going up to the middle level.

“I don’t feel the homeless are a problem, but people are starting to gather,” she said. “I’m feeling really uncomfortable where I used to feel safe.”

The CAPS team said they would give the area special attention moving forward.

A man at the meeting asked about strategies to deal with traffic jams occurring on the middle tier of the neighborhood, as well as cars running through stop signs.

With rideshare popularity in the area compounding normal rush-hour traffic, the CAPS team said congestion would have to be something to get used to. Not helping the problem, they said, is the fact that many rideshare drivers from outside the city are not used to driving downtown, but come because they make more money with downtown rides.

Another issue residents discussed was safety in Cancer Survivors’ Garden, a strip located to the east of Maggie Daley Park.

One resident, who said she had been followed in the gardens one morning walking her dog, asked about the patrol presence in neighborhood parks.

The CAPS team said there’s always one patrol car designated for all the parks in the district.

Residents were urged to continue to call so extra patrols could be directed. The CAPS team reminded everyone to call 911 if they witness something is happening on the spot, but to call 311 if reporting an incident that happened in the past.

The next New Eastside CAPS meeting will take place Feb. 6 at 130 N. Garland Court.

Crash victim on mission for safer Michigan Avenue

by Mat Cohen

On Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m., Phyllis Mitzen walked with a cane along E. Delaware Place and across Michigan Avenue along with her husband, Michael. 

She’s on a mission to make cross- walks safer. 

Six months ago at this crossing, Mitzen was knocked to the ground by a van which rolled on her leg. She spent 15 hours in surgery, 10 days in the hospital and three months in rehabilitation.

On Dec. 16 she walked with a cane to the corner of Michigan and Delaware, meeting with 20 people and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)  official Samadi Malihe, to initiate a discussion about making the area safer. 

One of the women supporting the conversation was Janice Lewis. Her son was involved in an accident 10 years ago in Montgomery, Mich. When Lewis went to the hospital she didn’t recognize him.  He died Jan. 4, 2010.

“It changes lives,” she said. “So anything we can do, let’s do it.”

Since 2012 there has been an average of approximately 75 pedestrian deaths each year in Chicago, according to CDOT. The crossings along the Magnificent Mile between Oak Street and Chicago Avenue make the strip the third highest area for fatalities.

One of the main changes Mitzen is asking for is extended traffic lights to give slower walkers a chance to cross.

The group highlighted that slower people, mainly young kids and the elderly, have to start walking as soon as the light changes to have enough time to cross. But with busier intersections, cars try to get through the lights as late as they can, delaying pedestrians from crossing.

Mitzen serves as the president of Skyline Village Chicago and is a member of the Mayor’s Commission for Age Friendly Chicago. She’s also planning, along with State Representatives, a town hall meeting  in February at Ogden Elementary School to focus on pedestrian safety.

“I think they certainly heard what we  had to say,” she said. “And having (Alderman Brian Hopkins) come certainly  helped. We’re following up with a town hall meeting at the Ogden School and two state Reps. will come. We’ll ask for updates there.” 

She will also be asking for updates on the plan for Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities.

“It’s a worldwide initiative for an age friendly city,” Mitzen said. “Chicago is signed on and it’s not clear where they are with the plan.”

For more information on Vision Zero, visit chicago.gov  

Pedway art project features hibernating bears

by Stephanie Racine

It’s hibernation season for bears—and humans. But a Pedway art installation may turn hibernation on its head. 

“Massimals in the Loop,” will be situated across the Pedway from Dec. 20 through the winter. The artwork depicts hibernating bears that vary in color and size as walkers travel through the Pedway. 

“The spirit of ‘Massimals in the Loop’ is to take this underutilized or underappreciated public space and invite people into it to experience it in a new and exciting way,” Chicago Loop Alliance Director of Planning Kalindi Parikh said. 

The Massimals will be in three sections of the Pedway—the hallway underneath Macy’s, the atrium of the Thompson Center and The Daley Center near the Starbucks. The best route proceeds from Macy’s traveling west to the Thompson Center, according to Parikh, but viewers are encouraged to visit the installation at their own discretion. 

Chicago is a city famous for public art, and Parikh thinks the Pedway should be a part of that movement as well. 

“We want [The Pedway] to receive attention and appreciation so people see it as more than an underground route from A to B,” she said. 

The installation is designed by artist Jason Scroggin and curated by Space p11, an art gallery in the Pedway at 55 E. Randolph. 

Scroggin wanted to create something that people could interact with.

“I want people to hug architectural form,” he said. 

Scroggin believes The Pedway is an opportune location to showcase his work. 

“I think the Pedway is a great space for (the bears) to hibernate and bring a little color and playfulness to people moving through the underground spaces during the colder months in Chicago.” he said. 

“It’s a reaction to the Pedway in general,” Parikh said. “The combination of the natural aspect of the bears and the man-made Pedway sparks a conversation.” 

Leave hibernating to bears and explore The Pedway and “Massimals” this winter. 

For more information, visit loopchicago.com, jasonscroggin.com and spacep11.com.

Starbucks Chicago Roastery a coffee wonderland

By Elisa Shoenberger

At 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15th, Starbucks Chicago Roastery opened as a temple dedicated to all things coffee. Each facet, from the architecture to food offerings, is a celebration of the exalted coffee bean. 

It’s the “best experiential retail you’ll see anywhere,” guest speaker and Crate and Barrel founder Gordon Segal said. The new store honored the former location of the Crate and Barrel flagship that was designed to be an experience for its customers.

Visitors appear to be filled with wonder as they enter the largest Starbucks in the world. Eyes are drawn to the 56-foot golden cask filled with roasted coffee. It soars up several stories with “symphony piping” shooting roasted coffee to the many bars and coffee stations throughout the store. 

“If you want to come in and just look and grab your coffee, that’s fantastic. But if you want to dig down on coffee and learn everything, then we’re here for that too,” said Marc Wanless, Director of Global Operations, Roasteries at Starbucks. 

Throughout the day, employees roast 25 pound batches of coffee beans that are loaded into the giant cask. All coffee roasted, Wanless explained, was exclusive to the Roastery Chicago location.

By following the cask and symphony piping to the upper floors, visitors will find more than the average Starbucks cup of coffee. There is a holiday special, a three-layered “Pistachio bicerin” at Experiential Coffee Bar on the third floor and exclusive Chicago cocktails infused with Starbucks or Teavana flavors at the fourth-floor bar.

There’s even a station dedicated to whiskey barrel aged coffee where green coffee is put into Knob Creek whiskey barrels, Starbucks partner Shiami Ranasinghe said. 

And as a final nod to the process of coffee, the backstairs feature a five story mural of a coffee harvest by Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega.

While this Roastery is devoted to all aspects of coffee, it’s also a celebration of all things Chicago. The location uses local distilleries for the cocktails and works with Chicago-based chocolatier Uzma Sharif to pair her chocolates with coffee.  

There’s a love letter on the fourth floor of the building with the line: “This Roastery honors all of these years of beautiful coffee in this beautiful city. A shrine to coffee, and a celebration of all we have done and will do here together. Thank you, Chicago.”

GPAC members look forward to wintertime in Chicago

By Mat Cohen

Like the people of Chicago, the parks are gearing up for winter.

The preparations were discussed Oct. 16 at Maggie Daley Field House.

The Grant Park Advisory Council (GPAC) discussed revised by laws, an approach for more signage throughout the park, dog-friendly events and physical park updates.

The revised by laws were passed by unanimous vote. 

Maggie Daley Park Supervisor Jackie Guthrie said winter programming will be announced Nov. 18. The lower Hutchinson Field is being re-sodded and a few broken sprinklers will be ready for spring.

Guthrie added the ice rink at Maggie Daley Park this winter will be operated by Rink Management, a change from last year. Rink Management is one of the largest organizations operating ice rinks in the country.

GPAC President Leslie Recht assured meeting attendees the park is moving in the right direction for improvement of the dog-friendly area, including a possible dog agility event in spring. 

Recht said there are too many complaints of people getting confused while finding their way through the park.

“We need to try and work with everybody to get better signage throughout the park to help with people from Chicago and people who are visiting,” she said.

She said the GPAC wants to work with parking garages surrounding the area to incorporate a validation system. 

“It would be a benefit to everyone bringing more people into the park,” Recht said.

The next GPAC meeting will be Nov. 20 at Maggie Daley Field House. There will not be a meeting in December and dates for the 2020 meetings have not yet been announced.

AmazonGo coming to the Prudential Building

By Stephanie Racine and Mat Cohen

AmazonGo is under construction at the Prudential Building on the plaza level, near Lake St. and Stetson Ave., according to the Amazon website. 

It will be the second AmazonGo location in New Eastside, joining its Illinois Center location at 111 E. Wacker Drive. AmazonGo is Amazon’s version of grocery and convenience store shopping. Customers scan in with the AmazonGo app, take what they need from the shelves, and walk out. 

“Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” the website stated. After Amazon automatically detects what has been taken, the items appear in a virtual cart, and the customer’s account is charged. 

AmazonGo is a popular stop for workers and busy people in New Eastside. “I’m about to get on an airplane so just wanted to stop in quick to grab a bottle of water” said AmazonGo Shopper Bill Meier. Meier has been to the AmazonGo in San Francisco as well, and is a big fan of the convenience. “It’s high tech, futuristic and where things are going,” said Meier. 

“I don’t always have a ton of time in the middle of the work day, or when I’m trying to get home at the end of the day,” said shopper Catherine Phaneuf. For Phaneuf, stopping at AmazonGo is the easiest and fastest way to grab a snack, or a full meal in a hurry. 

Beyond groceries, AmazonGo offers ready-to-make meal kits, which can be cooked for two people in 30 minutes. Local bakery and other artisanal items are also available.

AmazonGo even has organic raw beef or chicken to pick up. “It saves an extra trip to the grocery store if you decide to cook something on a whim last minute,” says Phaneuf. 

For more information about AmazonGo, visit amazon.com or download the AmazonGo app.

Mercy Home Marathon Runners Run for Home

By Stephanie Racine

Mercy Home is a privately funded full-time home for displaced youths that has operated in Chicago since the 1800s. 

In 1887, Reverend Dennis Mahoney put together a plan to refuge homeless young men. Mercy Home’s 1140 W. Jackson Blvd West Loop location still exists as its headquarters. Today, Mercy Home offers comprehensive support for youth in need.

“We provide kids with safety, housing, food, therapy, job opportunities, tutoring, and career guidance 24-7 throughout the year,” said Director of Communications Mark Schmeltzer.

Running the Chicago Marathon as a Mercy Home Hero is a way to support the organization. The Chicago Marathon is set for 8 a.m. Oct. 9.

Mercy Home Heroes can be anyone. Two heroes running this year, Reggie Williams-Rolle and Patrick Zamkin, both former youths at Mercy Home, are running to support their home.

“I’ve made it my life’s mission to do everything I can to make sure that folks know about [Mercy Home]” Zamkin said.

This is Zamkin’s fourth year running the marathon. Despite a number of metal replacements following a motorcycle accident when he was 20, Zamkin is gunning for five Chicago Marathons.

“It gives my orthopedic surgeon fits,” Zamkin said.

Zamkin was dropped off at Mercy Home on his 15th birthday. He said the support he got from the home helped him move forward. He works as a financial advisor after 10 years at the Chicago Board of Trade. 

“You got these guys in your corner. There’s nothing you can’t do,” Zamkin said.

Williams-Rolle is preparing for his first marathon. Training has been difficult, he said, but he’s excited to be giving back to Mercy Home.

“It’s just been a matter of being able to give back in any way that I can because I understand the importance of Mercy Home,” Williams-Rolle said.

Williams-Rolle was at Mercy Home for his final two years of High School. He graduated from St. Ignatius and got his Bachelor’s in Political Science from Emory University. He works in HR and is working on his Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Both runners are looking forward to the point in the marathon that passes by Mercy Home at mile 16.

“It’s at the perfect time because you’ll be at that point in the race where it is a little exhausting,” Williams-Rolle said.

“What a boost, seeing my family out there, all the employees, and the kids, they’re really out there rooting for you.” Zamkin said.

Mercy Home invites everyone to join their cheering section on Jackson Blvd. between Aberdeen and Racine.

For more information about Mercy Home, visit their website mercyhome.org.

GPAC Meeting Focuses on Revitalization

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

The Grant Park Advisory Council met at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Maggie Daley Field House. The meeting was mostly dedicated to the proposed revitalization of the southwest corner of Grant Park. Other topics included the dog-friendly area of Grant Park, by-law updates, and adding instructors at Maggie Daley Park.

Ernie Wong from Site Design Group, presented his vision for an overhaul of the southwest corner of Grant Park, located at Roosevelt and Michigan Ave. The location is currently home to the Agora art installation by Magdalena Abakanowicz. The art would not be affected by any changes to the surrounding area.

Wong focused on keeping the area connected to its historical roots, while creating more accessibility through updates.

The changes would have “more connection to nature,” Wong said. The new design includes naturalistic plantings, water installations, and soft materials used. 

Attendees liked the design, but wondered if it was too contemporary, or took away green space from the park. Wong assured he was willing to work with GPAC on their feedback and that his presentation was only a preliminary discussion.

Pam Foscia, the Dog-Friendly Committee President, suggested more funding to fix the infrastructure of the dog-friendly area of Grant Park. The dog-friendly area of Grant Park, located between 9th and Balbo, needs updating. It was added to the park thirteen years ago and has since become dilapidated. There is a lack of lighting, and visitors often feel unsafe in the area, she said.

Communities are built by people who own dogs,” Foscia said. The updating of the dog park would not only be for the dogs, but for the owners as well.

GPAC President Leslie Recht assured meeting-goers that she and other members of the committee were lobbying the Park District about funding for a variety of improvements. The lobbying will also include asking for more instructors to teach fitness classes at Maggie Daley, as more classes are a common request of the park.

Meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of each month (except December) at 6:30 p.m. in the Maggie Daley Field House. The next meeting will be Sept. 18.

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.

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