Reilly announces updates to Parcel O plans

Staff report

In late September, Alderman Brendan Reilly announced that Magellan Development agreed to work a number of public improvements into their project at 193 North Columbus Drive, commonly known as Parcel O.

The public improvements came from a public meeting held with the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) in July. Reilly pointed out that the development group did not need to agree to any public improvements by law, but they agreed to build the improvements after extensive negotiations with Reilly. In a recent newsletter, Reilly credited the public support for the public improvements with the success of the negotiations.

Magellan will pay for the improvements, which are expected to aid pedestrian and traffic safety.

The proposed improvements include a pedway connection through Village Market and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the greater pedway, improved lighting, public elevators servicing the 3 levels of Columbus Dr., as well as numerous improvements for pedestrians and vehicles.

Some of those improvements include:
•    A new traffic signal will be installed at Upper Columbus and East South Water Street.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, the crosswalk will be realigned on the south leg of the intersection. The east end of the crosswalk will move to the corner next to the Aqua building rather than the corner next to the fire station.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, a curb bump-out on the southwest corner will be installed to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distance on Columbus Drive.

Reilly said the project must get Lakefront Protection Approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, and when that vote occurs, Reilly will announce it in his newsletter.

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.

 

The Chicago Tribune moves into a new digital ‘space’ age

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

The Chicago Tribune’s move from the Tribune Tower to Prudential Plaza was not just a change of address for the storied paper, it was a change in the corporate organism itself.

With the move, newspaper leadership used the opportunity to shake up the newsroom and reconfigure the layout, transforming a legacy newspaper into a 21st century media player, active online and in print with its reporters feeding stories into myriad digital platforms.

Christine Taylor, managing editor of audiences, explained how the new newsroom layout—devoid of a lot of offices and cubicles—is improving how the staff reports the news. “We can move quicker to facilitate a more organic conversation,” she said of the open floor layout.

Reporters hard at work in the new Tribune newsroom.

The editorial department has five offices reserved for senior staff while everybody else, including multimedia editors, mostly digital natives, work shoulder to shoulder, she said.

Those editors help shape reporters’ stories as they’re written to better deliver the news to specific digital platforms.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation,” Taylor said.

In this way, the journalism giant hopes to compete with digital-only news outlets, like Buzzfeed, that operate across social media platforms in order to maximize exposure to a younger, tech-savvy audience, she said. Taylor said the Tribune will not sacrifice quality for clicks.

“I try to understand why [readers] tend to gravitate toward [digital] storytelling and then ask how do we participate in that space,” Taylor said. “How do we sell stories on those platforms and get those readers to interact with us?”

If that is the main question facing legacy news outlets, Tribune leaders believe the Prudential Plaza could provide the answer. Without walls to divide the newsroom, the operation works like a hive—each reporter working on his or her story, toward a common goal of greater readership. At the center of the newsroom, reporters have access to digital metrics, scorecards that track how well stories are performing and connecting with readers.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation.”

– Christine Taylor, Managing Editor, Audience

“One of the ideas around the restructuring was to put the audience at the center of everything we do,” Taylor said.

It’s a new way of reporting, in a new location, and Facilities Director Lynne Allen said the move was rough, especially on long-time employees who felt a personal
connection with the old tower.

“It was hard for people,” Allen said. “It’s an iconic building.”

For nearly a century, that iconic building was home. The Tribune moved into the Tower on July 6, 1925. Within those walls, presidents visited with editors, Ann Landers, Mike Royko and Gene Siskel banged out innumerable columns and hundreds of reporters pursued leads, called up sources and did the work that earned the paper 25 Pulitzer Prizes.

Despite the move, that history is far from forgotten in the Tribune’s new home in Prudential Plaza. In one corner, two couches, relics from Ann Landers’ office, sit ready for reporters to use during a break.

Historic front pages, etched in glass and illuminated from behind, line hallways. Quotes, taken from Tribune Tower’s front lobby now glisten in new shiny steel, old relics and artwork juxtaposed against a sleek modern day office interior. A historic wooden editorial board table, with chairs so worn that the leather has split, are given prominent positions in the the office landscape.

“If we had good furniture, we tried to reuse it,” Allen said.

In the middle of it all, a broad highway of a staircase connects the Tribune’s three floors. Allen calls them the “town hall stairs,” designed to accommodate staff for all employee meetings. The staircase also opens up the space, unifying the separate floors.

Eastlake Studio designed the space, and Allen said adding the wide staircase through the heart of their property in Prudential Plaza was no small feat.

“This was probably the most ambitious part of the project,” she said. “The stairs interconnect our space and make everything make sense.”

This, Allen explained, is a big difference from Tribune Tower.

“The Tower was a dark space with small windows,” she said. Floor to ceiling windows surround the office space at The Prudential Plaza. “Here, it’s nice to look out over Millennium Park all day long,” Allen said.

She said the newspaper looked at several properties but Prudential Plaza
was the best.

“We couldn’t have ended up at a better place,” she said.

EXPO CHICAGO brings top international art to Navy Pier

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Artists, critics, collectors and connoisseurs will converge on Chicago this month for the seventh annual EXPO CHICAGO at the Navy Pier.

The international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art will run Sept. 27–30 and will showcase the work of artists from 63 cities in 27 countries.

The international work was chosen by world-renowned gallerists including Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta, Rhona Hoffman, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey. Eleven Chicago galleries will be included, along- side art from cities like Seoul, Cape Town, Paris, Athens and Singapore.

“With over 3,000 international artists represented, there will be a wide variety of artwork for sale at EXPO CHICAGO this year,” said Tony Karman, President and Director of the EXPO.

The annual EXPO CHICAGO will unveil hundreds of top art pieces for audiences at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO

“Most importantly, the artwork is always provocative. Whether it is evocative of sheer beauty or challenging in its content, the artwork presented at this year’s fair will do what contemporary artwork has always done—capture the moment and reflect what is happening in the world today,” Karman said.“That is what I always look forward to.”

This year, the EXPO will feature four sections of exhibits.

The “Exposure” section will give new artists a chance to shine with exhibits that will feature presentations from galleries that have been around for eight or fewer
years.

The “Profile” exhibits will focus on more established galleries and will present solo booths, focusing on major projects artists. The “Editions and Books” exhibit will showcase limited editions and publications by established and emerging artists. The “Special Exhibitions” will focus on non-profits based locally, nationally and internationally, including 11 Chicago-based organizations, like the Hyde Park Art Center and the University of Chicago Department of Visual Arts.

Karman said the Profile section of solo artists projects will be a definite highlight this year, along with the curated programmatic sections In/SITU and EXPO Video.

The EXPO will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27–30 and and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30.

Reilly unveils revised designs for Lakeshore East

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published Sept. 4, 2018

More green space and three towers are planned for the I, J, K and L sites in Lakeshore East.

A year after the initial proposal was unveiled for the Lakeshore East development, Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and developers met in August with members of the community and the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) for an informal discussion of revisions and updates on the project.

The Lakeshore East development will feature public walking and biking ways, intended to
Turn to IJKL, Page 4 facilitate thoroughfare in the area. Rendering courtesy of bKL Architecture

The project will develop land parcels I, J, K and L, which are located from 197 to 302 N. Harbor Drive and from 452 to 500 E. Waterside Drive. Representatives from the Lendlease Development Inc. and Lakeshore East LLC development teams were present.

The key announcement from the meeting was that residents can expect to see a larger park area developed and one less tower. Initially the master plan called for four towers, and hotel space. Now the hotel is scrapped in favor of condominium space. The space will include up to 1,700 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail. The buildings will be approximately between 80 and 45 stories tall. Tom Weeks, a representative for the development team at Lendlease, said he believes the new plan is an improvement.

“I think we have a better plan tonight,” he told the audience. “Had you asked me that a year ago, I would have been skeptical of that.”

The plan includes 27 percent more green space and the elimination of a grand staircase, to be replaced with a meandering path. Developers said the plan is currently about half green space and that should improve pedestrian and bike traffic through the area. The green space will be developed and maintained by private developers but it
will be a public park, similar to Lakeshore East Park.

Alderman Brendan Reilly unveiled updates for the Lakeshore East development plans. The new
designs include one less tower and more green space. Rendering courtesy of bKL Architecture

“We wanted it to be universal access. We wanted it to be universal to all,” said Tom Kerwin, an architect from bKL Architecture.

For the most part, residents’ concerns and complaints were focused on traffic and safety, both of which Alderman Reilly said the development group would continue to address.

Upon news of the larger green space, several residents complained of people using illicit substances and homelessness in nearby parks. Reilly suggested residents call 911 and be willing to make an official complaint if they see illegal activity in parks.

The proposed green space will have a camera system and a funnel to
direct pedestrians through surveillance areas, he said.

“You’ll be able to get eyes east and west,” Reilly said. “We will know who’s going through the neighborhood.”

Last summer Reilly introduced construction plans to the NEAR group and since then, his office has been receiving feedback.

“If we have to say no, I’ve failed in my job because I’ve failed to find the middle ground and move the project forward.” – Alderman Brendan Reilly

Reilly has not signed off on the project and the meeting was intended to show how resident feedback has been incorporated into the designs.

“Negotiations have been many, many, many hours long,” Reilly told the audience at the start of the meeting. Those negotiations, he said, stemmed from community concerns.

“I don’t know if you’ve read, but there’s a story about the municipal race and it’s suggested there’s a habit that I drive developers crazy,” Reilly said. “And while I cringed a
little bit, I realized it’s part of doing my job.” Reilly told the audience he must also work for business interests.

“If we have to say no, I’ve failed in my job because I’ve failed to find the middle ground and move the project forward,” he said.

One objection he would not entertain was that of residents who complained the
new development would block views.

“I can’t protect your view,” Reilly told a resident. “That’s not the role of an alderman and that’s not how development works in a big city. If you want me to protect your view, I’m not your guy.”

Another concern involved pedway development. Several residents asked about forcing developers to build an underground pedestrian walkway but Reilly said that wasn’t going to happen.

“I don’t have the jurisdiction to assign a $10 million dollar obligation for a pedway system,” he said.

Following the meeting, Reilly said he
thought the discussion went well and while he does not expect to have any more public meetings on the development, his office is still taking resident concerns. Alderman Brendan Reilly can be contacted via his website, ward42chicago.com.

Chicago artist opens U.S. Pizza Museum

With museum, Chicago gets a slice of the pizza history pie

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Everyone knows pizza has long been big business in Chicago. With dozens of restaurants all through the city and suburbs offering a wide variety of styles and traditions, it is no surprise that Chicago is known as a destination city for pizza aficionados.

The newly opened U.S. Pizza Museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon

But now there’s more than pizza. Last month the U.S. Pizza Museum opened at the Roosevelt Collection Shop, 150 Roosevelt Road, adding an important side dish to the meal itself—history.

Kendall Bruns founded the museum several years ago as a series of pop-up events at various pizza restaurants. With gathered steam—and funding—he is hoping to make the Roosevelt Collection address a permanent home of his pizza memorabilia. Indeed, the museum itself is less a collection of pizza lore and myth as it is a collection of pop culture ephemera—important to pizza lovers of the late 20th century and a fun trip down memory lane for most people.

An ode to Chicago-style pizza at the new museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

The space opened Aug. 10 and judging from the people waiting to go inside, there are plenty of people who are interested in checking it out.

“We’re just here to learn about pizza and Chicago,” said museum visitor Shaheen Thasa.

The pizza museum made national news and, maybe predictably, the announcement was met with outrage among New York City pizza fans who took to Twitter to complain that any pizza museum should belong to New York.

“I’m not biased or anything, but Chicago pizza is the best,” Thasa said. Bruns, the founder, has taken pains to remain neutral in the debate. He displays memorabilia from around the United States and in interview after interview, he would not pick a favorite style of pie.

Bruns describes himself as a pizza agnostic and said the national social media debate about his museum was not intentional.

Bruns said he hopes pizza unites more than it divides.

“People can get passionate, but it doesn’t have to be this division,” he said. Bruns said any type of pizza can be tasty.

The collection of pizza memorabilia is located in the Roosevelt Collection. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

“I enjoy all different styles of pizza,” he said. “And everyone should.”

He explained that the food should unify Americans because whatever style they grew up eating, the food itself has a special place in most peoples’ memories.

“People have this connection to their memories of the pizza they ate growing up,” he explained.

Another visitor said good pizza depends less on the region and more on the preparation.

“I think any pizza that has a hand-tossed crust, grated mozzarella cheese and home-
made sauce is good,” said museum visitor Daniel Gulco.

To find out more about the U.S. Pizza Museum, its hours and ticket prices, visit uspizzamuseum.com

Reilly seeks feedback on Aon project

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) is looking for feedback on the redevelopment of the highest floor of the Aon Center into an observatory and restaurant.

The project will turn the highest floor of the Aon Center—in the heart of New Eastside at 200 E. Randolph St.—into an attraction projected to draw more than two million visitors annually.

The proposed space will be accessible by a glass-enclosed external elevator on the Northwest corner.

Reilly co-hosted a community meeting with the Chicago Loop Alliance earlier this year at The Mid-America Club to discuss plans with residents. More than 100 community members attended.

“Neighbors raised concerns related to increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic, privacy and safety,” Reilly said in an emailed statement.

Upgrades coming to Lakeshore East Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

After complaints of graffiti, vandalism and general wear and tear at Lakeshore East Park, repairs are finally coming.

According to a letter from the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly, Magellan Development Group, the park’s developer, have long term improvements planned. These include replacing the play area surface material in the tot lot and new playground equipment that will offer more activities for children of all ages.

Gabby Hart, the director of planning and development for Reilly’s office, confirmed the plans. “Plans are in place for full replacement of the playground surface and upgrades to the playground equipment are planned as well,” Hart said.

Hart said the tot lot will be closed when repairs are being made, but will otherwise remain open throughout the project.

Repairs to the surface area are already underway. The other improvements are expected to take place over the next few months and be completed by the end of the year.

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.

The Palmer House gives guests a glimpse into historic Chicago

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

One of the oldest hotels in America sits right outside of New Eastside, at 17 E. Monroe St.

The historic Palmer House | Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The Palmer House Hilton was intended as a wedding gift from Potter Palmer, an innovative businessman and the hotel’s namesake, to his new, much younger wife, Bertha, an educated socialite who was a champion for women and the arts.

The hotel first opened in 1871, but was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire just two weeks later. It was rebuilt across the street, re-opening in 1873, according to the Palmer House’s director of publicity and resident historian Ken Price.

Price has been with the Palmer House since 1983 and leads a guided tour of the hotel called “History is Hot!” Participants eat lunch in the hotel’s Lockwood Restaurant & Bar, and visit the Palmer House’s one-room museum, which opened in 2010.

The one room Palmer House museum. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The history Price teaches doesn’t rely
on timelines and dry facts. Rather, he takes names and dates and weaves them
into enthralling narratives, giving life to historical figures.

The Palmer House became a social
hotspot over the years, attracting famous
guests from all over the world including
many U.S. presidents, Charles Dickens and
Buffalo Bill. Musicians like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Liberace have performed in the hotel’s Empire Room.

An original recipe brownie served at the Palmer House. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The hotel was advertised as the first fire-proof hotel in the world, and the first to installlighting and telephones. Potter Palmer also invented an early version of the elevator, Price said. Perhaps most importantly, one of the most popular sweet treats in America was invented at the Palmer House—the brownie.

The kitchen still serves brownies made with the original Palmer House recipe.

It isn’t necessary to stay at the Palmer House to experience its historic beauty. Just pop in the lobby for a drink to experience the Grecian frescos on the ceiling, 24-karat gold chandeliers and bronze angel statues.

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