Illinois couples now option for collaborative divorce

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

On Jan. 24, the Jenner & Block firm hosted a celebration of the passage of the Collaborative Process Act in Illinois a year prior. Collaborative law professionals met to honor their work in the advancement of collaborative law in Illinois and Chicago.

Divorce may not be easy, but in Illinois, the process can be less burdensome when couples use collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is different from litigation and mediation. Through the process, a team of professionals trained in collaborative law, including attorneys and divorce coaches, come to an agreement outside of court. A judge ultimately signs off on the agreement, but the focus is not the amount each party can get.

“It is an interest-based process and focuses on the goals of each individual,” collaborative attorney and mediator Rita Ghose said. The goal is not necessarily what the parties are entitled to legally, but is about what is most important to each side.

“Each party signs an agreement that is binding to commit themselves to the collaborative process and not bring it to court,” Ghose said. If one of the parties decides to break the agreement and litigate, new attorneys must be hired. The entire process is private and not a part of public record.

“We have been working on collaborative law in Illinois for about seven or eight years,” attorney Carlton Marcyon said. The process has been law for just over a year and advocates say it’s working out well.  

“Collaborative law is beneficial to litigants, it’s faster, less costly, and there’s less consternation between parties,” Marcyon said.

The collaborative law process can often lead to better communication between spouses and can be better for any co-parenting endeavors, according to Marcyon.

“The collaborative process is the most supportive way to go through a divorce,” divorce advisor Karen Covy said. “Everyone is on the same page to serve your goals, not the attorney’s goals.”

To learn more about collaborative law, visit collablawil.org

Published on March 15, 2019

Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopens after repairs

(Published March 14)

By Jesse Wright

After being closed for months for repairs, Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopened its doors on March 8.

The popular New Eastside bar and grill, at 225 N. Michigan Ave., was packed by 5 p.m. that day and longtime fans said they were happy to have their favorite spot back.

“I had come here about a dozen times before it reopened,” customer Ken Goncharoff said.

In the two months since the restaurant closed, construction crews added stainless steel accents, more seating options, including more bar seats, and an updated ceiling.

But Goncharoff said he didn’t notice most of it because his favorite parts of the bar are unchanged.

“To be honest, it looks the same,” he said. “The bar looks different and the ceiling looks different, but I love the atmosphere here. That’s why I come here, and that hasn’t changed. I liked it before and I like it now.”

Sweetwater is gearing up for a massive St. Patrick’s Day patio party March 16.

The bar and grill will open at 9 a.m. and will offer green beer, bagpipes and Irish food, including corned beef Reuben, shepherd’s pie and corned beef poutine.

For more information, visit sweetwatertavernandgrille.com.

SHE SAID YES!: The Maggie Daley marriage proposal heard ‘round the world

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Bob Lempa wanted to do something big for Peggy Baker, his longtime girlfriend.

They’d been dating for years and he knew she was special and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. It was just a matter of finding the right time and place to ask her to marry him.

So, one snowy morning, armed with twine, some stakes and a snow shovel, he went to work in Maggie Daley Park, first marking out the letters and then shoveling.

Six hours later, the words “marry me” were written across the snowy canvass of Maggie Daley Park.

“I had no idea whether security would kick me out when I started doing this,” Baker said. “But they were supportive. I wasn’t writing something negative, it wasn’t something political and it wasn’t a commercial.”

It was painstaking, Baker said.

But it worked.

After he wrapped up, Lempa called Baker. It was a day after Valentine’s Day and he had told her she’d be getting a card.

“At four he called and said, ‘Did you get my card yet?’ and I said, ‘no’ and then he said ‘look out your window,’” said Baker. “I knew it was for me and I saw the message and my co-workers overheard and they started congratulating me and giving me hugs. They clapped and cheered. I met Bob at the park and the park district people were there and I got to say yes officially when I went down there.”

Lempa caught more than Baker’s attention though. Since the public proposal caught the attention of downtown, Lempa said he’s seen his name pop up in stories around the world.

“I wasn’t doing it for the publicity, although I thought I might get some,” Lempa said. “But it is all across the States and it hit Mexico, Spain and New Delhi.”

Baker said she’s thrilled to be part of a good news story.

Prior to the engagement, Baker had been thinking about a fun vacation as a way to shake up her winter.

“I was thinking a week ago, I need to plan a vacation or something exciting,” she said. “Who knew how the week would go? So many people are reaching out and this got so much attention. It is amazing. I was on TV this week! So many people are talking about it.”

Lempa said he certainly doesn’t mind.

“I was looking to hit a homerun and I hit a grand slam,” he said.

The couple hasn’t set a date for the wedding yet, but Lempa said they’re thinking about sometime over the summer.

A look behind the dye

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Dyeing the Chicago River green is a downtown tradition that spans decades.

Plumbers with the Plumbers Local 130 union began using dye for spotting water leaks and river pollution in 1962, after Mayor Richard M. Daley sought attractions to draw crowds downtown and to the river—which at the time wasn’t developed.

Pat McCarthy, a recording secretary with the Plumbers Local 130 union and the boat coordinator, said volunteers still prepare the dye and sift it by hand into the water.

“We use about 50 pounds of dye,” he said. “It’s a powder and it starts off [as] an orange color. We sprinkle that into a quarter mile stretch of the river.”

The group dyes the same stretch of the river every year—the section separating Streeterville and the New Eastside starting at either Wabash or State Street and following Wacker to the lake. The exact portions of the river that will be dyed are announced closer to the day of.

The dye—whose exact formula remains a mystery—is harmless to fish and other living organisms in the river, and McCarthy said it only lasts a day or a day and a half.

It’s a messy job that leaves volunteers covered in color.

“There’s a lot of cleanup on the boats afterward,” he said.

McCarthy works to coordinate the St. Patrick’s Day parade in addition to his river duties. It’s a busy, dirty and long day for him, but he doesn’t mind.

McCarthy said he’s proud to be involved in the events because he’s a first-generation American. His parents emigrated from Ireland, so being involved with an Irish holiday in the city that adopted his family is a special experience for him.

Mega companies coming to downtown Chicago leads to opportunities in housing market

By Urban Real Estate

A new year has brought a wait-and-see attitude as the national climate, interest rates and a major local mayoral election bring some pause to buyers and sellers looking to make their next move. Chicago City Hall, the future of the city’s pension plan and property tax proposals all have people watching to see what the next Chicago will look like.

Multinational companies, however, have bigger bets set on the Windy City and that might be the key difference to our future over any other market.

Matt Farrell, managing broker of Urban Real Estate, sees this as the opportunity that makes downtown neighborhoods desirable even when the national and local climate may differ.

“Each of these companies has hundreds of employees who are also making their move into the city. Some are renters, others are prospective buyers. They all need a place to live, and there are few communities like the New Eastside that offer an immense level of convenience, privacy and beauty, all within steps of the hustle and bustle of the city.”

Chicago has a great deal to offer, both to companies and residents.

“There is really no surprise as to why this city continues to draw investors and businesses from across the globe,” Farrell added. “We may have our winters, but the access to public transportation, universities, museums, medical systems, an unrivaled lakefront setting, paired with O’Hare’s planned expansion, make Chicago the perfect fit.”

“The best advice we can give our seller clients is to do everything they can to make their homes look as pristine as possible. Beautiful, updated homes will always do better than a home that hasn’t been tended to. Consider your own personal and financial goals, and plan whether this may be the time to sell your home or to seek a second home at a great price,” Farrell said. “The market pace may have stabilized, but Chicago has and will continue to find its way to continued growth.”

Restaurant Week extended for a week

For the News

Choose Chicago and its partner restaurants announced today that Chicago Restaurant Week has been extended through Feb. 12. 

More than 235 restaurants will participate in the extension, which will continue to offer specially designed prix fixe menus, starting at $24 for brunch and lunch, and $36 and/or

$48 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity).

“We are excited to offer locals and visitors an extra five days of dining deals at some of the city’s best restaurants,” said David Whitaker, Choose Chicago President & CEO. “There’s no better time to get out and enjoy some incredible meals at equally incredible prices and catch a show or two during Theatre Week.”

Chicago Restaurant Week’s extension coincides with the 7th Annual Chicago Theatre Week which kicks off on February 7 and runs through February 17, allowing diners to combine an amazing culinary experience with a night out at the theatre.

Presented by the League of Chicago Theatres in partnership with Choose Chicago, the 7th annual Chicago Theatre Week will again provide visitors and residents the opportunity to choose from more than 120 productions and sample the extraordinary range of theatrical offerings in Chicago.

“This year, Chicago Theatre Week kicks off The Year of Chicago Theatre, reminding people of the rich theatre tradition in Chicago. Certainly, in this city of innovators, risk-takers and big hearts, the standard of excellence by both the theatre and restaurant scenes set Chicago apart from other cities,” said Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres. “With the overlap of Theatre Week and Restaurant Week, audiences will once again be able to take advantage of both of these great deals to create a quintessential Chicago experience.”

For a listing of restaurants participating in the extension, visit EatItUpChicago.com. To learn more about Chicago Theatre Week shows, tickets and venues, visit ChicagoTheatreWeek.com

The things in your home really should bring you joy

By Urban Real Estate

Winter in Chicago is the perfect opportunity to stay inside and tidy up. With the popularity of organizer-extraordinaire Marie Kondo’s Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” many are turning closets inside-out with the goal of finding happiness while decluttering.  

In real estate, decluttering ensures that a prospective buyer can “visualize” themselves in a space, so that a buyer is less focused on your life, and more focused on the home. The bonus is that living in a residence that looks and feels great is a win, all the way around.

Kondo’s six-step method is both a physical and emotional journey. The importance of loving your space isn’t just about the walls you live in – but also the momentos that share your home, as well. Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with Urban Real Estate, sees clients who struggle with what to do with belongings.

“When we are preparing a home for sale, all things will need to go at some point, so we recommend starting that packing process before we bring buyers in the door,” Emery said. “The goal behind bringing joy to your home is compounded with emotionally being prepared to remove a loved one’s belongings who has passed, clothes that simply don’t fit or you will never wear, or items from your children that simply need a new place other than your front closet,” Emeray adds.

As you declutter, think about how you want to use the items in your home. Some things you might want to keep, but it may not be necessary to keep them in your home.

“That’s what storage facilities are for. Think about what could go where, what you might keep for a second home or investment property, or what could be better used by someone else you know, and proceed confidently,” Emery added.

Contact us at Urban Real Estate for a consultation on the resources we have for organizing and staging, or for your next home. UrbanRealEstate.com or (312) 528-9200.

[Winter is a great time to declutter a home. Photo courtesy Urban Real Estate]

First dates in the digital age mean shutting down the phone

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

As times change so, too, does dating.

Chicago matchmaker and dating coach Stef Safra, who operates the dating company Stef and the City, said young people have more college debt than older generations. Some still live at home, and many young people work well into the evening. These factors affect dating today.  

The traditional weekday drinks or dinner for a first date has become more challenging because of cell phones—it’s hard for people to put them down and focus on the present, Safra said. “People with cell phones are still doing work. They haven’t detached themselves for a date during the week.”

She suggests people meet on the weekend for brunch when their minds are more relaxed, and she urges those about to embark on a first date to decompress for 20 minutes prior to the date.

Also, Safran pointed out, a first date dinner is a bad idea because if the date doesn’t go well, it could be a long and uncomfortable meal.

Safran also suggests treating the first date like an informal interview—don’t take it so seriously.

“It takes three dates for the person to get comfortable and think you’ll stick around,” she said. “It takes time for people to get comfortable with you and let down their guard.”

Even with the many dating apps that exist today, professional matchmaking services are still thriving because digital apps require time to navigate, and even then, matches may not pan out or, worse, the match could be a catfish scam.

“Matchmaking becomes much more necessary [now] and a lot of men actually ask for it, which is surprising because men don’t always like to ask for directions,” she said.

To find out more about Safran’s services, visit stefandthecity.com

Snow superstars clear the way at the Aon Center

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

It’s a big building, in a big city, so it’s no surprise that when winter comes, it’s a big job keeping the Aon Center’s perimeter free of snow and ice.

How do they do it? With people and preparation.

Every winter, the Aon Center employs Harvard Maintenance to keep the property dry and safe during even the worst weather. It starts with a plan. Each shift leader decides who and what is needed for the job, depending on the weather.

“Lakeside buildings generally receive more snow than properties inland, so we communicate forecasts and keep our response dynamic in case additional resources or manpower are needed if a storm worsens beyond what was estimated,” said Harvard Maintenance senior director Karen Camerano.

Project manager Kate Krolicki said security at the Aon Center reaches out when the snow begins to fall downtown and a crew is assembled to salt, scoop and dry off the paths using a squeegee.

It’s no easy feat to keep feet dry, and it takes a toll on even the most experienced workers. “Our employees have to be in the cold for long periods of time, so we educate them on frostbite, exhaustion and other potential health concerns,” Camerano said.

Pro-tips:

For those who like a walkway as immaculate as the Aon Center’s—but can’t afford employees to do it for them—Camerano emphasizes readiness. She recommends putting down salt immediately and shoveling before the end of a snowfall. “We aim to never let the snow accumulate to a level where shoveling or lifting the snow becomes too arduous,” Camerano said.  

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.”

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