A Starbucks roastery could could offer a better brew of retail on Mag Mile

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

On Michigan Avenue, the old cliché is true: the only constant is change.

As online stores continue to hurt brick and mortar retailers, churn on Mag Mile is near constant, with Tommy Bahama and Forever 21 being only the most recent announced closings.

In December, the Chicago Architecture Center hosted an evening conversation with a panel of Chicago retail experts to discuss the continuing promise of the Magnificent Mile and how, even in a virtual world, creativity could save the day—and the bottom line—of brick and mortar stores.

Much of the conversation centered on Starbucks’ plan to this year transform the old four-story Crate and Barrel store into a massive roastery, a high-end coffee space that is poised to be a café with major cache. It’s a gamble designers hope will pay off with a new type of store that’s as much an experience as it is a selling space.

“Things change, nothing is permanent, and if something is genuinely out of place on this street it will get replaced,” explained David Stone, a landlord and tenant representative in the downtown area.

Stone said the whole of the street reflects changing trends—and that’s a good thing, as it keeps the area relevant and vital. One trend, Stone said, is windows. Over the last few decades, more retailers have transformed building facades with windows, giving the shopping district a more open, airy feel.

One building that typifies this is the Crate and Barrel outlet.

After 27 years, the retailer shuttered its Michigan Avenue flagship store in January 2018. Still, whatever retail trends ended a home décor store haven’t touched the aesthetic appeal of the store’s face—a massive, bright and open façade featuring more windows than brick and mortar.

Jay Longo, principal designer at the firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, said the new roastery on Michigan Avenue will be as daring as a four-story, glass-paneled home décor store was in 1990. He expects it will keep the area relevant to a new generation of shoppers who are as prone to shop online as they are in any brick and mortar space.

Longo pointed out that the Crate and Barrel store’s design on Michigan Avenue was unique in 1990, and that is still an asset.

“It set a lot of trends that other buildings on Michigan Avenue have followed,” he said.  

He pointed out it’s not a virtual space; it is a space for people, and that means it’s a space for experiences. Longo said a roastery is a manufacturing facility as much as a café, and the combination is an experience shoppers can’t get anywhere else.

“The idea that brick and mortar is more of an experience than simply retail is definitely what the roastery is all about,” he said.

“Retailers are trying to build brand loyalty and that’s hard to do in cyberspace,” Stone said. “That’s the biggest attraction to brick and mortar.”

Program moderator Cheryl Durst, executive vice-president and CEO of the International Interior Design Association, put it in simple terms. No matter the age and no matter the trends, humans want to be wowed.

“Human beings need to be captivated,” she said.

Young Professionals Streeterville mixes services with mingling

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

This November saw the start of something in Streeterville when the first meeting of Young Professionals Streeterville kicked off.

The group is in part the brainchild of Mario Hollemans, an attorney, who was installed as president of the group, though he is far from the only young professional eager to kick off a networking group in Streeterville for the under-40 set.

Vice President Casey Doherty said he’s lived in the area since graduating from college in 2017. These days he is in law school and hopes the organization will give young people an opportunity to socialize and volunteer in the neighborhood.

“There is a strong young demographic in the neighborhood that wants to give back. We wanted to showcase the talents of young people and we wanted to create a vibrant community of young professionals in the neighborhood.”

Doherty said that while the group is a younger demographic, it is professionally diverse. Another member, Dr. Valerie Mayuga, is a physician who is also in charge of the group’s philanthropic efforts, and Doherty said it’s just nice to know people who share common interests and hobbies.

“It’s nice to have strong community connections,” he said.

Hollemans said he did little to plan the group; the whole organization sprung more or less fully formed by the membership who wanted to formalize something. That said, the group will hold monthly mixers to attract more members and to network—but also to do more for the neighborhood.

“There are a lot of young professionals in the neighborhood looking to give back,” said Doherty. “I think young people have always wanted to get involved and give back to their communities, and recent times have shown how important that really is.”

Anyone looking to get involved with the group can email Hollemans at ypstreeterville@gmail.com or check out their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/YPStreeterville.

Get your gifts close to home: Shop Streeterville

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Streeterville hosts the Mag Mile and a slew of name-brand national retailers in addition to some local hidden gems. Why not shop at both? Here is a list of some of the must-haves in Streeterville.


Kriser’s Natural Pet

Kriser’s Natural Pet store, 356 E. Ohio St., is a national brand that started right here in Chicago. Be sure to support this success story for all your pet presents.

This year’s hot ticket items include HuggleHounds holiday pet toys retailing for around $15. If you’re a more practical pet parent who want to keep your dog warm, try a coat from Canada Pooch. Prices vary depending on size and style. Of course, you’ll want a dog coat with some matching boots. This season Pawz rubber boots are the way to go, with most boots costing around $15.

Kriser’s Natural Pet store is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. most days. For more information, call 312-951-1331.



For the finicky and fabulous person on your list, check out Sephora, a high-end beauty store with a variety of makeup and skin products. This year, the store offers two new products that are flying off shelves.

First, customers are going crazy over the Charlotte Tilbury Stars in Your Eyes Palette. This is a limited-edition eye shadow palette retailing for around $75.

The next big thing this season is the Pat McGrath Labs’ Mothership V Eye Palette. Pat McGrath Labs made news this year when its value soared north of $1 billion, and it’s easy to see why with this flashy, tasteful offering, retailing at $125. There are two Sephora locations in Streeterville, 605 N. Michigan Ave. and Water Tower Place at 845 N. Michigan. The 605 N. Michigan Ave. location will not have special hours for Black Friday, but it will offer specialty miniature sets for sale for a limited time that day. The store is open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 312-649-9343.


The Cubs Team Store

The Cubs Team Store, 668. N. Michigan Ave., is the go-to place for all your Cubs fans — for men, women, boys and girls, they have something for everyone. Jerseys are always popular, and this season the top jerseys to buy include the Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo jerseys. The jerseys retail for $135 each.

Looking for something for the little ones? The Cubs Team Store is now offering small Oyo Sports minifigures and buildables (think Legos) for $15 and TY-brand Cubs dolls for $10—perfect for stocking stuffers.

Last year, the store opened early for Black Friday, though no announcement for this year has been made as of press deadline. The store is open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 312-280-5469.

Streeterville officers vow to crack down on drug sales, seek help from residents

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer


On Thursday, CAPS police officials told Streeterville residents they were cracking down on drug dealers and buyers in the area.


Officer Thomas Baker said officers are trying to make cases against drug distribution networks as opposed to people merely carrying illicit substances. However, he said, police need assistance from residents.


“Our biggest thing is, we obviously need help from the community, especially when you guys see everything,” Baker said.


The police action comes amid community concerns that drug activity is getting worse. One resident said open sales along Chicago Avenue are becoming problematic. Baker suggested forming block clubs and said police could help.


“We can train you, if need be, if you have a community room available,” he said. Baker explained block clubs could create email and phone trees to channel information to police regarding problematic areas. The result, Baker said, would be safer communities.


“We will train you to harden the target, to make it more secure for yourself and others to walk through and be safe day and night,” he said. Hardening a target means making an area safer.


A private security officer in the audience said drug dealers are selling to students, starting fights and criminally trespassing on the property of the Chicago Avenue McDonald’s where he works. He said despite arrests, drug sellers return after light sentencing with little consequence.


Baker said police would soon hold meetings with the city attorney to find ways to more effectively stop drug sellers from loitering near a methadone clinic in the area.


Sergeant Christopher Schenk said residents safely taking pictures of drug deals and illicit activity could help arresting officers.


“I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way,” Shenk said. “I have to say that. But if they have photos or anything they can take, or information that could help us out, that would be great.”


He said there have been photos that have helped investigations.


An audience member asked if students buying the drugs were being arrested. Without buyers, she pointed out, drug dealers would not be on the street.


Schenk said officers would arrest anyone who violated the law.


“Whoever breaks the law, and if there is a victim who can sign complaints or if there is an ordinance we can sign, we are more than happy to (make an arrest). Justice is blind,” Schenk said. “I don’t care if you are Caucasian, African American, Asian — justice is blind.”


The officers added that anyone who has crime tips or would like more information can contact law enforcement for non-emergency situations at 312-742-5778 or CAPS.018district@chicagopolice.org.


The next CAPS meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 4 at 115 W. Chicago Ave.


Sgt. Christopher Schenk addresses the Streeterville CAPS meeting Sept. 6.

Streeterville residents say neighborhood is convenient and community-oriented

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Bordered by Rush Street to the west, Oak Street to the north, the Chicago River to the south and Lake Michigan to the east, Streeterville is a bustling community encompassing one of the city’s most popular stretches of road—the Magnificent Mile.

In the 1800s, before the area was developed, there was no Michigan Avenue, there were no high-rises and no restaurants. There was, however, a man named Captain George Wellington “Cap” Streeter.

According to Chicagology.com, Streeter had dreams of running a water passenger service, but one of his boats ended up wrecked on a sandbar east of Michigan Avenue. Streeter and his wife Maria used the ship as a houseboat.

Over time, Streeter convinced developers to dump debris along his sandbar and that fill gave birth to Streeterville.

Today, residents of Streeterville laud the neighborhood’s convenience as well as its community.

Gail Spreen, president and owner of Streeterville Properties Group, referred to herself as “Streeterville’s biggest fan.”

The five-time president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years. She is also on the Streeterville Chamber of Commerce board, was on the board of the Magnificent Mile Association and is vice chair of the Lights Festival parade.

Spreen said she loves Streeterville’s proximity to the lake and feels visitors to the neighborhood bring a “really positive energy.”

New Eastside, she said, is quieter and has fewer retail options, and River North has an energetic nightlife. But for her, Streeterville is just perfect.

“People see each other, they recognize each other, there’s community events that go on that really make it feel like you live in a neighborhood,” Spreen said. “It’s neat
because you would never think that you could create this community feeling in
the downtown urban environment. And you really can.”

Phyllis Mitzen, President of Skyline Village Chicago, a membership organization for older adults, agreed.

“We lived in Evanston, and I loved Evanston … but when I walk down the street here, I almost invariably see somebody I know and we stop and chat,” she said.

Mitzen has lived in Streeterville for 20 years and said the convenience and proximity to museums and good transportation make it a wonderful place for older adults and “an extraordinary community for intergenerational living.”

Donna Dugo, membership director at The Magnificent Mile Association and resident of Streeterville for more than 20 years, said she likes the community.

“I love the fact that I’m steps away from Navy Pier, the lakefront and now the newly developed Riverwalk. I mean, I can be at all of these places in a 5-to-10 minute walk,” Dugo said.

Streeterville is more than just the people. Pets are a powerful connecting force.

Amy Cherner, marketing and leasing coordinator for North Water Apartments, said she and her fiancé walk their dog around the neighborhood each night.

“We’ve gotten to the point where a lot of the faces are familiar, which is definitely kind of cool to have that in the middle of the city, and then really recognize your neighbors,” she said.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website, soarchicago.org.

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