Chicago Tribune moves to New Eastside

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

This June, the Chicago Tribune staff will be making the trek up Randolph Street to their new digs at the Prudential Plaza.

New Eastside residents, keep your eyes out for some familiar faces wandering around—you might see the person whose column you read in the morning. The team behind the newspaper will now be in New Eastside—reporters, columnists, editors, copy editors, marketing reps, office personnel, advertising folks and of course, my favorite person, the one in charge of
the obituary page.

Keep in mind, this is not just your standard, location-based move. This one is dramatic for the Tribune’s employees, some of whom might feel sad that executives from the paper’s parent company Tronc, Inc., sold the paper’s namesake office building, the Tribune Tower at 435 N. Michigan Ave., which had been the newspaper’s home since 1935.

The tower was recently sold for a cool $205 million. With renovations and major changes planned, Tronc Inc. had to make a move. After an extensive search of a variety of locations, the company settled on the New Eastside building, One Prudential Plaza.

The Tribune will occupy the second through fourth floors, but if you want to mingle with the head honchos of Tronc, you will have to go a little bit higher. The corporate offices will be on the top two floors of the 41-story building.

As we welcome employees of Chicago Tribune to New Eastside this month, it doesn’t matter that it’s a 171-year-old newspaper—they are still the new kids moving into the neighborhood. Remember what we were told in our childhood days? “Make sure you are nice to the new kids.”

They may feel a little bit shy or a touch unsure while still getting used to
their new surroundings.

New kids, we understand it’s tough to move after being in one location for so long—83 years—but we think you will find our neck of the woods quite welcoming.

Cohn-Fuscious thought for the month: “Whoever said nothing is impossible never tried slamming a revolving door.”

Published June 5, 2018

Perspective: No bronze medal for Wanda, up for sale

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

Published March 4, 2018

In case you haven’t heard, there have been a few twists and turns in the saga of our omnipresent Wanda Vista building, 363 E. Wacker Dr., which has now been knocked to fourth place in the “tallest building” category. To add insult to injury, the building is now up for sale which leads us to speculate…will the building be getting a new name?

Touted as being Chicago’s third tallest building—which would stand 1,191 feet at completion in 2019—we took pride in bragging that Wanda Visita would land us the bronze medal for Chicago’s tall buildings right in our own backyard. But we found out Los Angeles-based CIM group has announced plans for a 1,338- foot structure—a.k.a. monstrosity—at 201 E. Illinois St. in the parking lot behind the Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.

To add salt to our already wounded New Eastside ego, Wanda Vista is up for sale.

Before it is even completely built? What’s that all about?

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s, Dallian Wanda Group, the proud creators of the Wanda Vista have apparently gone “Hasta La Vista.” According to Bloomberg News, increased scrutiny by Chinese regulators into Wanda’s overseas investments have forced the company to sell the property.

New owners are being sought as you read this (I did put a bid in, but haven’t heard
back yet). As we all hold our breath to see if the Hancock Tower will follow the Sears Tow-
er in yet another mind jarring renaming, we find ourselves wondering if Chicago’s
fourth-tallest tower will find a new name as whimsical as “Wanda Vista.”

Yet construction goes onward and up-ward. The building’s almighty and inescapable footprint is growing bigger. The early morning builder’s noise wake-up call will still be with us, and the great parade of trucks will continue on a daily basis.

Coach’s Corner

New Eastside entering tween years

By John Cohn | Community Contributor

In an interesting and uplifting gathering, the staff of New Eastside News got together for an annual staff-wide meeting. It was a refreshing mix of both young and old. Actually, truth be told, mostly young—I think I was a party of one representing “the old.” Nevertheless, it is great to see so many new and enthusiastic young reporters jumping on board for our newspaper. During the meeting, we discussed anything and everything in regards to our neighborhood and the many potential stories and creative ideas.

I found it interesting that the overriding factor is one I hear and even “feel” all the time here in New Eastside—how lucky we are to be living in such a unique neighborhood of the city.

Many Chicagoans are only just discovering our area and some are not even aware it exists, but that is okay. We don’t mind growing up at a normal pace without all the mad rush. That, I am sure, will come soon enough.

Speaking of growing up, this got me thinking about where our neighborhood is in its current stage of development. Construction on the Lakeshore East part of the neighborhood started in 2004, so, could you say our neighborhood is at the preteen stage, waiting for the onset of the dreaded teenage years? With new buildings going up, and infrastructure changes, we might be in for a full course of upheaval, angst and uncomfortable disturbances.

But have faith. We will survive that teenage period, as all people do, and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as the neighborhood enters young adulthood, and later, blissful middle age.

Oh, and one final note to all those young whippersnapper reporters joining our staff—back off. This old guy here plans on sticking around for a while and is not planning on giving up this “Coach’s Corner” anytime soon.

Cohn-Fucius thought for the month: Someday is not a day of the week.

Cars and makeshift structures currently fill the site where the new IJKL towers will be built in New Eastside. Photo by B. David Zarley.

Coach’s Corner – What to do with the last parcel of land


The wait is over. Speculation of what will be built on the remaining empty plots of New Eastside land can now end. Four new buildings are ready to join the O, IJKL parcel party, all of varying shapes and sizes. In maps presented at a recent alderman’s meet- ing, the future sites of these buildings are labeled as lettered “parcels.”

Only one plot of open grass remains free from a fate of concrete and mortar, at least for now. It is one of the two sites
left unlabeled. On the northeast corner of Lake Shore East Park, a strangely angular-shaped plot is closed off completely. One remaining question is what to do with this untouched spot, mysteriously labeled “FUTURE.”

The Alderman has indicated that in the distant future, a school will rise in that space, but no one has any definite plans, as far as I can tell. I have a few suggestions about what should rise in the right-angled “FUTURE” spot. How about a 24-hour yoga and meditation center? A basketball court? A build-your-own pizza joint? A drive-thru, all-night White Castle? There are all kinds of possibilities.

Maybe the best idea, with all the construction scheduled for the next few years, is to turn the space into what I will call a Quiet-torium—a building with soundproof walls. It will be place of perfect silence, where those who need it could come for a brief moment to just sit and listen to, well, silence. The only problem is… there might be a long line.

Cohn-Fucius thought for the day: “There is only one place where you start at the
top, and that is when you are digging a hole.”

— Jon Cohn, Community Contributor

“Odysseo” an equestrian delight

If you’re lucky enough to have a south view from the Lakeshore East neighborhood, you may have noticed the massive tent that went up southeast of Soldier Field last month. “The White Big Top,” as it is called, houses Cavalia’s new show Odysseo, premiering this month only, in the South Lot of the stadium.

The show is unlike any other, yet familiar. Priding itself as “the best show ever,” Cavalia is the equestrian Cirque du Soleil. Although they are separate entertainment companies established decades apart, they both originated in Montreal and share a co-founder. The show is made up of “65 horses and 48 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians,” according to it’s website.

Odysseo is a mesmerizing production beginning to end, with horses, humans, technology, set design and music coming together to create a breathtaking experience. The performance pivots and surprises as you wonder what could they possibly do to surprise you again.

South loop resident Melissa Bakst called the combination of dressage, acrobatics, theatrics and circus tricks “unique and beautiful.”

I had as much fun watching the horses perform with precision, as I did watching them run wild and horse around, challenging each other at times. It provided an opportunity to watch trainers bring unruly performers back into formation using friendship and encouragement.

Cavalia should be at the top of your list if you’re going to see one show this season. Ticket prices range from $79.50 to $144.50 with the show running April 4th through the 23rd.

To purchase tickets, visit

— Ben Cirrus

Why does Chicago smell like dessert?

Late one night last year, as I walked home from the State and Lake train station, I encountered a mystery that I have only recently solved.

As I made my way across Michigan Avenue, I smelled the alluring scent of chocolate brownies. I remember thinking, “Some nearby bakery is getting an oddly early start on the day.” But as I continued my walk up the hill to Columbus Avenue, then back down into Lake Shore East Park, the sweet scent (seemingly impossibly) lingered.

Even the irresistible scent of Garrett Popcorn’s Chicago Mix only emanates a block or so from the store. How had this chocolate fragrance followed me for a half mile? Had I accidentally dipped my sleeve into a chocolate fountain?

No. I checked. Unsure of what had transpired, I was at least happy that for one shining moment, Chicago smelled like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

A short time later, the delicious perfume struck me again as I strolled down the Riverwalk. I smiled with glee as I walked, the scent following me all the way to Merchandise Mart – in fact, growing perceptively stronger along the way.

Chicago had become Choco-Land; not some bleak big city with open sewers and pollution, but a wondrous fairyland of desserts and decadent calories.

My childhood was spent in residences near paper mills and horse farms – never have I lived in proximity to such a pleasing bouquet of smells. But what was the source?

A little Internet sleuthing gave me the answer. The incredible aromatic perk bestowed upon our neighborhood emanates from Blommer Chocolate Company, located just northwest of the Loop.

When the chocolate is being made, and the winds blow in from the west, our world becomes a heavenly place to dwell.

— Matthew Reiss | Community Contributor

Joffrey Ballet’s “Winning Works”

I attended opening night of the Joffrey Ballet’s 7th Annual Winning Works program on Sunday, March 13, at the Harold Washington Library’s Cindy Pritzker Auditorium.

Winning Works is a program designed to promote diversity in the dance community. The show featured four performances, each created by a different choreographer. Each performance included a video introduction, in which we saw the dancers in rehearsal, and heard each choreographer’s vision.

The first performance, Scend, was perhaps the closest to classical ballet — beautiful to watch and inspiring to see the amount of technical skill on display.

The second piece, Moonlight, featured Debussy’s Clair de Lune; the lead dancers commanded the stage for this performance, evoking an ethereal quality, and a sense of longing.

Hopeful Undertones explored the heightened emotions of adolescence, the performance feeling very much like a high school hallway before first bell.

And my favorite piece, Suite Hearts, rounded out the evening — a high energy, lightning fast ode to flirting.

Winning Works is an engaging program that reminds us of the power of dance to express emotion without saying a word.

Matthew Reiss has been a Lakeshore East resident since 2007 and a New Eastside News writer since 2015. He married his true love at the Blackstone Hotel and earned a law degree from the University of Kansas, but prefers to spend his evenings onstage, performing and directing for the local comedy group, The Stuntmen.

Food (or lack thereof) for thought

Normally in this column I go pretty light and try to find some of the humor in our daily New Eastside activities. “He who laughs lasts” has always been one of my guiding principals. But not this month. In our city’s coldest hours, I take a slightly different tone.

It started innocently enough on a chilly, but otherwise bright and sunny, Saturday afternoon stroll down Michigan Avenue. I observed something that made me uncomfortable, a sight that I am sure many of you have seen numerous times.

What I saw  was a group of Chicago citizens sitting on the pavement in the cold weather, clearly homeless, looking for any kind of handout of food or money.  Another group was right next to them — and I mean literally right next to them — dining inside a nice restaurant, separated only by a thin pane of glass.

They were less than a stone’s throw away from each other, but as far as lifestyle and circumstance, they might as well have been miles apart.

No moralizing here, it is just an uncomfortable observation.

On a related note, I was more than pleased to read New Eastside News’ recent story about New Eastside for Charity, an organization dedicated to helping the area’s homeless population, founded by a group of our neighbors.

The organization has already had one successful clothing drive.  Here’s to hoping that with the help of many of our readers, this organization will grow and progress over the years — maybe  even to the point where, in the future, that thin pane of glass won’t separate us as much.

Cohn-Fucious quote for the month: “It is better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness.”

A moving experience

reiss001-01I have lived in Lakeshore East for a decade, all of it in the same apartment building, until last month.

For most of you, November 2, 2016, will long be remembered in Chicago lore as the day the Cubs finally won the World Series. I shall also remember that date as the day I chose to move from one Lakeshore East apartment building to another.

I took a vacation day for the occasion, which seems absurd in retrospect, because it was the hardest working “vacation” I have ever taken. It was a full-day affair, moving out of one apartment into a second apartment, then coming back to the first apartment to clean it and turn in the key before midnight. By the end, I was an unpleasant emotional mélange of crabby and giddy from packing fatigue and physical exhaustion.

As my wife and I worked late into the night, we kept track of the Cubs game through the reactions of the only other people using the elevators — a horde of pizza delivery folks. They all had the game on in their vehicles and gave me updates upon request.

moving_truckWe finished just as the Cubs were forced into extra innings. I had no TV and I was too tired to go anywhere, so I tracked the box score on my phone. But I didn’t need the phone to know when the game was over. Ecstatic shouts, car horns and sirens erupted in a jubilant symphony.

I was elated that the Cubs were finally victorious, that the move was over — the only casualty being the mysterious disappearance of our cat’s miniature playhouse, which got lost in the shuffle — and that we could finally go to sleep in our hastily constructed bed.

If I had known that the Cubs’ fate was dependent on me moving, I would have done it years ago.

Matthew Reiss has been a Lakeshore East resident since 2007 and a New Eastside News writer since 2015. He married his true love at the Blackstone Hotel and earned a law degree from the University of Kansas, but prefers to spend his evenings onstage, performing and directing for the local comedy group, The Stuntmen.

— Matthew Reiss

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