North Lake Shore Drive closed for ’emergency’

Just before noon on Monday, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication announced northbound lanes on Lake Shore Drive are closed to Grand Avenue because of a “structural emergency.”

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, a beam is cracked at an on-ramp and the beam was not repaired in time for Tuesday’s morning traffic

It’s not clear when the beam cracked.

This story will be updated as new details emerge.

Lakefront Trail separation project completed

New Eastside News News BriefsLakefront Trail completed

After three years of work, the Chicago Park District announced in December that the Lakefront Trail renovation project is complete.

For years pedestrians and cyclists complained of confusion, accidents and general crowds along the trail. In 2016, spurred by a $12 million gift from Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest man according to Forbes, the city began widening the trail and separating it by direction and by use between bicyclists and pedestrians. The trail extends from Ardmore Avenue in the north to 71st Street in the south. The city has not yet completed all landscaping improvements along the trail. While the trail is completed, parts may be closed due to winter weather advisories. Check chicagoparkdistrict.com to see the status of the trail

400 E. Randolph Building increases security

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After the theft of a classic car in November from the residential building at 400 East Randolph, residents at the January CAPS meeting said that the building’s management has increased its security presence in the garage.

At the meeting, residents of the building and the neighborhood expressed concern to police that not enough is being done to prevent car thefts. The police confirmed that the suspect in the November theft is a repeat offender.

Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski said that since residential garages are private property, it is incumbent on the building owner to take precautions.

Management of 400 E. Randolph did not return calls for comment.

Slalom moves to Aon Center, expands to two floors

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In January, Slalom, a national business services and technology consulting agency, announced their move from the Prudential Plaza to the Aon Center.

The Seattle-based company that consults in a wide variety of departments, including organizational effectiveness and data analytics, now occupies 65,000 square feet over floors 37 and 38 of the Center. This doubles their previous office space. However, in the last 14 years since the company set up shop in Chicago, steady growth demanded a larger space, general manager Justin Odenbach said in a press release.

“With more than 700 employees now—and plans to grow beyond 1,000 in the next three years—we simply outgrew our previous space,” Odenbach said. “Because we have a local business model, our people live and work in the Chicago area, so staying in the city was key. We were thrilled to find a space that met our criteria for location, growth, flexible use, and culture fit right here in the neighborhood we know and love.”

GEMS holds topping out ceremony for last beam in Upper Builing


By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The topping out ceremony is an old ritual for new buildings. The ceremony celebrates when the final beam is laid in place and is a milestone for any project. On Nov. 30, the New Eastside’s GEMS World Academy got to hold their own topping out ceremony for their new building.

With the new building, dubbed the Upper School, the private academy can expand class sizes and will serve grades six through 12. The building is located at 355 E. Wacker Drive, behind the main building at 350 East South Water St. and the Upper School means more than just extra space. Students will get a full-sized gym, music practice rooms, new lockers and classrooms dedicated to design courses.

This represents the largest expansion to date for the five-year-old campus. Thomas M. Cangiano, head of the school since July of 2018, said he understands what a big deal the topping out ceremony is for the students and faculty. “All the work is going to be in the interior from now on,” he said. “When the kids left the school last spring (in 2018), they left a hole in the ground. So to see this frame come up so quickly and to see there were already a few floors built, I think it gives the kids a sense of how quickly the building can go up.”

Cangiano said he hopes the Upper Building will wow the neighbors as well. Much of the first floor will feature practice studios for dance and other activities and all the action will be visible to pedestrians through large plate glass windows.

The building will be ready for move in by the fall 2019 semester.

As Chicagoans will be able to look in, Cangiano wants the students to look out, beyond the school and into the heart of the city. The school has a sizeable international student population, but Cangiano has long maintained that the school must prepare international citizens to also be citizens of Chicago. “You can’t really be a true international citizen unless you’re a good local citizen,” he said. “You have to understand the context in which you live and go to school and play and the economics, economic development, transportation, infrastructure and mundane things like revenue and expenses.”

Just in time for Christmas, dino SUE gets a new home

Staff reports

 

SUE, the iconic T. rex who held the coveted spot on the Field Museum’s main floor until February, will finally be on display in a new home this holiday season.

The skeleton had been removed from Stanley Field Hall tomake room for the museum’s new Titanosaur cast, Maximo. But, on Dec. 21, SUE’s new suite will open, debuting a brand new habitat to museum visitors.

The biggest and most complete T. rex skeleton in the world, the skeleton that had been on display had, nevertheless, grown out of date given new scientific understanding of T. rex anatomy. So, since coming down, scientists and museum workers have been updating SUE’s skeleton to match the latest science.

One of those updates will be the addition of a set of bones across SUE’s abdomen called gastralia that helped the T. rex breathe, according to Pete Makovicky, the museum’s curator of dinosaurs.

SUE will now live in the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet in a 5,100 square foot suite filled with interactive displays that mimic the environment an actual T. rex would have lived in.

Among those displays will be “cutting-edge animations showing how SUE would have interacted with other dinosaurs and what the landscape would have looked like,” said Jaap Hoogstraten, Director of Exhibitions, in a press release.

The move has been in the works for quite some time, said Field Museum president Richard Lariviere, in a press release.

“We’re excited to finally complete our decades-long plan to put SUE in a proper scientific context alongside our other dinosaurs and offer an experience that really shows off why SUE is widely considered the greatest dinosaur fossil in the world,” said Lariviere in a press release.

SUE’s new environment “will give visitors a glimpse of the world SUE lived in,” said Hoogstraten in a press release. The new display will also explain how SUE made it to Chicago.

“People will also get to learn about SUE’s discovery and the things scientists have learned about SUE over the last few decades—there’ll be lots of new information and experiences that we weren’t able to get across with the old display,” said Hoogstraten, in a press release.

“This is the biggest, scariest, and most impressive SUE’s ever looked,” said Lariviere, in a press release.

 

Reilly nixes Spire for now over community concerns

Staff reports

After months of speculation, Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly rejected the 400 N. Lake Shore Drive development, also known as the Spire Site.

In late October, Reilly announced that he would reject the proposal after the developers failed to consider any community concerns. This is a setback for a development that has been in the works for over a decade, but it does not mean the project is dead.

“As you know, I joined with SOAR to host a community meeting on May 15 to review the developer’s proposal,” Reilly wrote in an email to constituents. “The meeting was very well attended and we received a tremendous amount of community feedback. My staff catalogued all of the community input from that meeting and we created a list of priority issues that needed to be addressed during my negotiation process with the developer.”

Reilly said he sent the developer a “detailed memo” in August enumerating community concerns, and that their reply did not address any of those issues.

 

“Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal,” he wrote.

Reilly said the community had concerns about the hotel use, the tall podium base of the buildings, traffic concerns and security concerns along the Riverwalk and at DuSable Park.

However, the alderman said the project is not dead because Related Midwest may still address the issues at some point in the future, allowing development to move forward.

“In the event the developer chooses to address the legitimate concerns regarding their proposal, my office will be sure to provide all impacted neighbors with an update,” he said.

Reilly then listed exactly what must be addressed.

  • Access to the site via East North Water Street must be significantly restricted
  • Proposed hotel use should be eliminated
  • Podium height and bulk must be reduced
  • Make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below grade parking system to manage deliveries, services vehicles and pick-up/drop-offs.
  • Developer must assemble a security plan for the Riverwalk and DuSable Park
  • Elimination of the proposed Ogden Slip Public Esplanade

 

Disability Summit focuses on benefits from disabled workers

Ben Lumicao, a senior attorney with Allstate, talks with Jill Houghton at the Fourth Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit.

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

Business leaders from across the city met in October for the fourth annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit, a daylong meeting of breakout panels and discussions on how to better include disabled workers into the workplace.

The Chicagoland Business Leadership Network and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce presented the summit, bringing together hiring professionals to discuss things like mental health in the workplace, online accessibility and best practices for disability recruitment.

Rob Hitchcock, the president of government and consumer solutions for the Health Care Service Corporation welcomed attendees and said there are ample opportunities for disabled workers.

“We’re struggling to fill open positions,” Hitchcock said. “We view this as a wonderful opportunity to recruit and get talent into our organizations, and I know many of you feel the same way.”

The summit did more than focus on employers and their needs. At one point, the conversation turned to the disabled employees themselves.

“We’re going to talk about the power of owning your identity and the power of the beauty that exists within us.” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability: IN. “One in five of us have a disability. And it’s cool.”

Houghton said disabilities have workarounds and disabled people don’t need to be labeled as differently abled or special because there is nothing wrong with being disabled.

Suhail Tariq, one of the panelists, echoed this sentiment with his own experiences at work. He said he can compete with coworkers who are not disabled because he is willing to work hard.

“I am no different than any of you guys,” Tariq said. “We’re no different than anyone else. It’s just hard work. I like my mantra to my executive committee, which is, ‘You may through a certain way get to the end goal, but I’ll get to the end goal too, the way I am comfortable doing it, and if I need any help because of my disability, then I will raise my hand.’”

Panelist Ben Lumicao, an attorney for Allstate, said open dialog about abilities is welcome because the days of ignoring a disability are over—and that’s a good thing.

Another panelist, Shannon Maher, a recruiting programs specialist with Exelon, said the challenge is two-sided, as disabled workers need to own their disability and recognize it, just as much as employers do.

“We bring many talents to the table because of our disabilities,” she said.

Innovation Awards highlight local tech talent

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

On Monday evening, Chicago Innovation recognized a host of Midwestern ideas at the 17th annual Innovation Awards.

Among the recipients, the Bra Lab won people’s choice for designing better brassieres, the Adler Planetarium won the collaboration award for their work with high school students and Ballot Ready won the Social Innovator award for their work on an elections app.

Besides the specialty awards, general Chicago Innovation Awards went to Abbott, Advanced Valve Technologies, Cameo, Ensono, Farmer’s Fridge, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Sterling, UPshow, Sittercity and Molex. Neighborhood awards went to Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center, Aspire and Lakeview Pantry. Up and comer awards went to Catalytic, Codeverse, Esquify, ExerciseBuddy, GuardianVets, Jlobit, Parker Dewey, PanaceaNano, Truss and Unanimous AI.

The event, at the Harris Theater in the New Eastside, was a chance to celebrate some of the people behind innovative ideas and inventive companies.

The evening was kicked off by Mayor Rahm Emanuel who praised the city as itself an up and comer for technology firms.

“We have more women innovators than any other city,” Emanuel “But that’s only the beginning of where we need to go.”

The mayor explained that Chicago businesses should recruit young talent from the city’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools programs in order to encourage kids and to keep talent local.

“If we do that, then to Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo and London I have one word, watch out. Chicago is coming for you,” Emanuel said.

Transit Tees launches LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, an urban adventure game

Staff reports

 

Chicago-based Transit Tees, an official manufacturer of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) products announces the debut of LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, an adventure game based on the elevated commuter train.

 

The game is designed to capture the commuter experience on Chicago’s train system in an engaging way for two to seven plays, any age from 9 and up. The object of the game is for the player to discard all the cards in hand while navigating the L train system.

 

Along the way players—as riders—must negotiate buskers, train preachers, manspreading commuters, rush hour crowds and other everyday train hassles like forgotten fare cards, falling asleep on the train, sitting in a weird puddle or going to the wrong airport.

 

“Chicago transit riders are true urban warriors,” said Transit Tees owner and founder, Tim Gillengerten. “They encounter and deal with many obstacles in their daily commute and, in our opinion, have an ‘elevated’ ability to navigate our train system. We would joke around the studio about all the hilarious, and not so hilarious, things that happened to us on the ‘L’ and came up with the brilliant idea to merge art, design and all that’s irreverent about living in and getting around a big city in creating Loop: The Elevated Card Game.”

 

Just in time for the holidays, Loop: The Elevated Card Game will be available Nov. 15 online and at both Transit Tees locations in Wicker Park, 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave. or in Andersonville at 5226 N. Clark St. The game will sell for $20.

 

A free public launch event will be held Nov. 15 from 6-9 p.m. in conjunction with the sixth Anniversary of Transit Tees’ Wicker Park location. Guests will be the first to play the new LOOP card game, preview other holiday gift ideas, and enjoy light bites and refreshments from Antique Taco and Revolution Brewery. No RSVP is required.

Conceived and designed at the Transit Tees design studio in Wicker Park, LOOP: The Elevated Card Game is the first game created by the locally owned and operated company that designs and produces more than 100 original local and transit-themed apparel, housewares and accessory products each year. In fact, the LOOP game and ‘L’ Stop Cards are based on the design of Transit Tees’ popular Transit Magnets, which now include all 185 unique ‘L’ stops in the transit system represented in square magnet form.

“The transit system’s signage, maps, and colors are the epitome of contemporary artwork and remind us of game play action.” said artist Tom LaPlante, who spearheaded this project at Transit Tees’ in-house design studio. “The graphic look of the LOOP game is inspired by the look, shape, colors, and icons of the Chicago’s ‘L’ system.”

Transit geeks will especially appreciate LOOP’s technical authenticity: all the Transfers are accurate, and all Stops include the precise coordinates on Chicago’s grid. Each deck also includes an iconic ‘L’ Map Card with interesting facts about the train system and its history. Now, daily commuters, tourists and Chicago buffs alike can learn how to navigate and ride the CTA through playing the LOOP game.

For more information, visit www.transittees.com or call 773-227-1810.

Chicago Innovation Awards recognize Midwest creativity

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Writer

 

Midwestern ingenuity will be honored at the annual Chicago Innovation Awards on Oct. 29 at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.

This year’s awards show will feature a keynote talk imagining Chicago’s place in the future of tech led by Chris Gladwin and Penny Pritzker. The presentation will outline a plan to transform Chicago into one of the world’s tech hubs.

Executive Director Luke Tanen said the awards show was born out of a desire to show Chicago as a competitive hub of innovation by co-founders Tom Kuczmarski and business journalist Dan Miller.

“They were finally tired of Silicon Valley getting all the credit for innovation and they wanted to do something to shine a light on Chicago,” Tanen said. “They wanted to make sure that when people think about innovation that it does not just mean high tech and it does not just mean start-ups.”

Tanen said the awards recognize “high tech, low tech and no tech.” There are plenty of submissions to consider. He said 519 innovators were nominated for 25 awards this year. Despite the array of ideas and innovations, Tanen said there are some common traits.

“There are certain trends that we see in Chicago that might be unique to Chicago,” he said. “For instance, we see more B2B (business to business) innovations rather than B2C (business to consumer) innovations.”

Long term sustainability sets Chicago innovators apart, Tanen said. Unlike some tech startups, Chicago innovators seek to solve real, existing problems.

Tanen explained that Chicago Innovation judges look hard at business models and measurable, quantifiable outcomes, so there isn’t a lot of guesswork when it comes to which companies will be successful. “The winners rely on strong business models,” Tanen said. “There are not a lot of companies that are trying to get a whole bunch of users and then trying to monetize later.”

The winners won’t be announced until the awards event, but Tanen said food development is hot right now. “There was a higher than average amount of innovations in the food industry,” he said.

A regular source of innovation is healthcare and Tanen said education is another popular field for innovators in the Chicago area. He explained this is because innovators tend to look for problems to fix. “If those challenges exist, then you’re going to see people who want to address them,” Tanen said.

Tickets can be found at the event website, chicagoinnovation.com.

 

Streeterville police focus on noise in Sept. CAPS meeting

Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski addressed a CAPS meeting in September. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski discussed theft, ridesharing and street performers with residents at the September Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in the 001st District.

 

According to Dombrowski, pickpockets are very effective, and theft made up more than half of the district’s crime from Aug. 10 to Sept. 13.

 

Dombrowski said pickpockets tend to go to crowded locations such as a restaurants where people aren’t focused on their personal safety.

 

Theft, he said, is better than robbery, where violence can occur.

 

Thieves also target people whose valuable items are visible.

 

“You should try to be as circumspect as possible with your personal possessions,” Dombrowski said. “I would say 50 percent of our robberies are because people are exposing their cell phone.”

 

A resident asked about fake Uber and Lyft drivers in the city.

 

Dombrowski said fake Ubers and Lyfts are most often out during the late night and early morning, looking for intoxicated people to victimize. During the day, real Uber and Lyft drivers are victimized when drivers open their car doors and people come into the car and steal items, he added.

 

Passengers should look at the car’s stickers and verify the driver’s identity before getting into the car, Dombrowski said.

 

Dombrowski said he doesn’t think fake Uber and Lyft drivers are a big safety concern as long as the passenger is taking common sense precautions.

 

A resident raised concerns about the bucket beaters downtown. The resident said they bought a decibel meter and measured 100 decibels near the bucket beaters, which they said could harm hearing.

 

Dombrowski said dealing with this issue is challenging. “The municipal code is very clumsy and very difficult to enforce,” he said. The noise is irritating to many who live and work in the area, but at the same time, the bucket beaters receive a lot of monetary support from people downtown, he said.

 

Dombrowski said people who are not affected by loud street performances think it’s “charming.” He said the solution is unclear, but being able to quantify the level of noise is “wonderful” and suggested the resident contact the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

“These different lifestyles, these different activities are clashing with people that wanna live a normal life in downtown Chicago. Where’s the balance in that? I don’t know,” he said.

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