Market trends indicate buying a good bet in Chicago

By Urban Real Estate

Chicago has historically remained a steady market for home buying and selling as residents have often made Chicago home (versus other markets where second home investing was more prevalent and often also the first to feel the impact of a distressed marketplace).

That said, interest rates remain low and with a lower rate, comes housing affordability. If the Federal Reserve announces interest hikes before the end of the year, it is likely that that, too, will impact mortgage rates, increasing the cost of a home and decreasing the buying power a consumer might have today.

Matt Farrell, managing partner with Urban Real Estate, has these recommendations for contemplating what to do in today’s market:

First, there are great opportunities to buy in the Chicago market. If buyers are on the fence, lower rates today can be locked in through Urban’s recommended lender for a fixed limited time with a pre-approval, giving you the buying power to negotiate strategically on your next purchase. Buyers are not obligated to make any purchase, but at least have the “financial house” in order, with a low interest rate locked in.

Next, sellers are motivated, especially with good offers. A solid offer is better than no offer to a seller and often sellers have a variety of reasons why they may be looking to move. While buyers may have not planned to purchase in the winter, there may be a chance to secure a great primary or investment property and appreciate the residual benefit of a more aggressive decision.

Finally, If interest rates drop in the future, buyers can always refinance. The reality is, that is a better situation to be in rather than to miss a great opportunity, or to not find what one is looking for later. Moreover, as housing prices continue to increase in Chicago, buyers may later fight the battle of both a higher priced home, and higher interest rates.

Contact one of the trusted advisors at Urban Real Estate to help consider buying or selling in this market, and help get on track for a pre-approval with Urban’s preferred lenders who have a loan program right for you at (312) 528-9200 or visit us at UrbanRealEstate.com.

A closer look at the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade has been bringing joy to residents for decades. The event started in 1934 as a way give people a little happiness during the Great Depression and this year’s parade promises to be as joy-filled and as fun as ever, with a few modern flourishes.

What’s new…

Viewers should tune in on time because right in the very first hour of the Uncle Dan’s Outdoor Store Thanksgiving Parade will feature a performance by the Black Ensemble Theater. The performing arts group will offer a preview performance of their “Women of Soul” production, which runs through Jan. 13. The performance will include a special salute to Aretha Franklin as well as a celebration of some of the biggest stars of soul.

What’s returning…

Every parade features familiar balloons, floats and music. But how many have Wookies?

Yes, the The 501st Legion – Midwest Garrison is back again. In late October parade officials announced the return of the largest Star Wars costuming club in the area.

The star warriors will be joined in the parade by another group of relics—knights. Returning this year will be Medieval Times’ Knights of the Realm.

Also returning is the The Southland College Prep band, a college band that formed in 2010. The band has grown in recent years and is now considered one of the premier marching bands in the parade, boasting 100 members with 25 dancers to boot.

Speaking of bands, local favorite Kelly High School Marching Trojans will return to perform their 2018 winter festival show.

The grand marshal…

While this year’s grand marshal had not been announced by press time, Chicagoans and parade fans can expect the marshal to be beloved and a part of the city’s history. Past marshals have included Ronald McDonald (2017) (the company is headquartered in Chicago),Chicago native and actor Matt Walsh (2016) and Chicago native and wrestler CM Punk (2012).

For a complete list of what to expect, check out the parade website, www.chicagothanksgivingparade.com.

Behind the scenes…

Of course, there is more to the parade than the floats and smiles most people see. Amanda Caswell, who does public relations for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, provided some of the parade’s fun facts. Here’s a look behind the scenes at the parade:

In 2014, 400,000 people attended the parade — that’s almost equivalent to the entire population of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That year, 2,500 gift bags were handed out.

There are 5,280 feet in the parade route, which is exactly one mile.

It’s a global phenomenon with 19 states, 16 countries and 23 different cultural groups were represented in the 2014 parade, making it a true international affair. Thanks to television coverage, the parade is annually available to approximately 80 million homes and viewed by millions around the world. In addition, many visitors come from around the world, from places like Switzerland, Mexico, Australia, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Canada and beyond.

According to media reports of last year’s parade, there were around 5,000 parade participants, 1,300 volunteers, 15 floats of all kinds and 18 marching bands, according to numbers from Thrillist, the Chicago Tribune, and Patch.com.

Finally, about 200 people handled the parade’s balloons in the 2014 parade, and those balloons were filled with 39,500 cubic feet of helium.

For the record, in 2014 there were 70 members of the “poo crew,” who ensure State Street would not smell like manure after the parade was over.

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade will take place on Nov. 22, 8–11 a.m. on State Street from Congress to Randolph. Don’t want to leave the house? Anyone can watch the parade live on WGN America and WGN9.

If you go…

Leave early and plan well. Streets will be blocked off for the parade route and parking will be tough, so give yourself lots of time. Public transportation will be running, though on a holiday schedule so if you take a train, check the schedule.

If you want a front row seat on State Street, good luck and set the alarm. It’s best to arrive by 7 a.m. to claim a spot, though there are usually spaces near State and Van Buren not too far from the Harold Washington Library. Expect train noise around that area.

 

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade provided statistics from the 2014 event. Updated stats will be available after this year’s parade.

New takes on the Thanksgiving table

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Thanksgiving does not have to consist of the same canned cranberry sauce, cornucopia and bread stuffing every November. This year, throw out the rulebook and use these tips to augment your favorite holiday classics.  

Lighter dishes

Staying on the lighter side of Thanksgiving can be satisfying. Try adding cauliflower to stuffing in lieu of bread or rice. For vegan guests, swap out animal byproducts for lentils or chickpeas in a stuffing-type side dish. Sweet potatoes are a good substitute for regular potatoes in mashed, baked, or fried forms, while butternut squash soup is a light and classically-inspired alternative to heavier side dishes.

Cultural additions

For extra flavor, try adding a cultural twist to Thanksgiving favorites. A chile rub on the turkey can give your bird a Southwestern kick, while pumpkin egg rolls or turkey dumplings can make great finger foods. For a simpler option, add a dish from a favorite international cuisine: carbonara, stuffed grape leaves, rice pilaf and spring rolls all fit in with Thanksgiving mainstays.

Fun with pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween. Spray paint pumpkins gold, white or silver for a unique addition to a table or decoration. Painting the menu on a pumpkin is a bold way to announce what will be on the table. Mini pumpkins can be used as seat markers or to denote what cheeses are on a cheese plate. Add flowers and glitter or string lights to pumpkins for an extra dimension.

Say goodbye to turkey

For the main course, consider going with a Midwestern classic like a  honey baked ham, and make your stuffing with a meat such as lamb or beef. A pescatarian Thanksgiving could feature lobster or salmon with a cranberry sauce. Or get rid of the meat altogether for a vegetarian spread – mushroom and chestnut “beef” Wellington can substitute turkey for a vegan main dish.

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

 

No ‘paws’ in winter fun for Fido: Indoor activities for your dog

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Doggy Paddle

Doggy Paddle, 1430 W. Willow St., has indoor pools for pups, allowing your four-legged friends to get some aquatic exercise even when the lake is frozen over. Swimming for dogs has many physical and psychological benefits, including improved flexibility and mobility and reduced stress and anxiety, according to Doggy Paddle. where, dogs can swim privately, or in groups based on temperament and experience. An instructor is always present while dogs are in the pool. In the new member pool, the instructor will help guide furry friends. Private swimming lessons are also available. Doggy Paddle also has an indoor dog park, use of which is included with a swim. Vaccinations are required and unneutered dogs can be booked for private swims only. Prices begin at $32 for group swims. For more information, visit doggypaddle.com

K9University

K9University, 2945 W Lake St., has an indoor open-play, climate-controlled dog park, open 9–11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday that allows your dogs to get out all their energy on winter weekends. To use the park, customers pay $15 for the first dog, with $8 for any additional dogs in the family. Staff is on hand at all times, but owners are encouraged to watch and learn what safe play between dogs looks like, according to K9University’s website. The space is also available for private reservations to throw a puppy birthday party or get-together. K9University recommends checking its calendar for special events or a specific pup party. Vaccinations are required. K9U also features boarding, training and daycare. For more information, visit k9uchicago.com

See Spot shop…

Running errands with a pup can kill two birds with one stone by giving your dog some exercise while you knock things off your to-do list. Certain stores and shops welcome pets in downtown Chicago, so you can bring your buddy along with you. Besides pet stores such as PetSmart or Kriser’s, The Shops at North Bridge, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s, at 900 N. Michigan Ave., are pet friendly. Be sure to enter in the Walton entrance for Bloomingdale’s, as the rest of the mall does not allow dogs. Other stores that allow dogs include LUSH, Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie and the Apple Store.

Open for business: Downtown Chicago hotels booming

The Hotel Julian includes a new eatery, About Last Knife. Courtesy photo.

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Downtown Chicago is booming for hotels. In the last month, the Hotel Julian opened in the New Eastside while in the Streeterville area, Aloft opened a new hotel and the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel.

These properties offer hundreds of new rooms for city visitors, along with luxury and easy access to all the downtown amenities.

The Hotel Julian, which opened Oct. 1 at 168 N. Michigan Ave., the corner of Michigan and Randolph, features 218 rooms, with millennium kings and double rooms.

“St. Julian is the patron saint of hospitality, so that is where the name comes from,” said George Jordan, Executive VP with Oxford Hotels and Resorts, the owners and operators of Hotel Julian.

The name of the hotel’s restaurant, About Last Knife, offers an all-day menu.

“You can get an omelet in the morning or at night, or beef Wellington by the slice in the morning or at night,” Jordan said. The hotel pays tribute to the building’s original proprietors Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox of the eponymous Marshall and Fox architectural firm, with Marshall’s image on the restaurant’s wall.

In Streeterville, Aloft Chicago Mag Mile opened Oct. 1, at 243 E. Ontario St.

Aloft is a Marriott Hotel brand, and Tishman is the developer, owner and manager. There are 337 guest rooms and a restaurant, according to their website. The hotel takes inspiration from the site’s former occupant, the Chicago Contemporary Museum of Art.

Additionally, the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel on Oct. 1, at 162 E. Ontario, as a part of their upscale Red Collection hotels.

 

For more information about the Hotel Julian, call 312-346-1200 or visit www.hoteljulianchicago.com/

 

For more information about Aloft Chicago Mag Mile, call 312-429-6600 or visit

www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chiaa-aloft-chicago-mag-mile/

 

For more information about the St. Clair Hotel, call 312-787-3580 or visit www.redroof.com/property/il/chicago/RRI281

New Eastside Doorperson of the Month: John Echevarria transforms a condo into a home

John Echevarria transforms a condo into a home. Courtesy photo

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

John Echevarria, doorperson at the 340 E. Randolph St. Condos, is a people person.

He would have to be —  he’s been at the Randolph St. residence since April 2010, and has been a  doorman for more than a decade.

“The 340 condos are, by far, the best condos I’ve ever been in,” Echevarria said. “The staff, the residents and my boss in particular, she is such a great leader. I’ve learned quite a bit from her in the five or six years she’s been at the building. My growth has [been] multiplied in the powers of ten. My knowledge has exponentially gone up since she’s been here.”

Echevarria said the most important thing he’s learned is leadership skills. He hopes to continue in the service industry as a leader and he is learning how to do that on the job. His role there is nothing short of professional development.

“I’ve learned a lot of leadership qualities,” Echevarria said. “I’m the head doorman here and my boss, she’s showed me how to be a leader, how to train the staff to better themselves and how to provide better customer service for the residents. My ultimate goal is to go into management and she’s given me a lot of management tasks. All of that has helped me prepare to go into management.”

The job-training aside, Echevarria said he residents who motivate him to go to work each day – this love for human interaction is what got Echevarria nominated for Doorperson of the Month and why he excels at his job.

“You have to be customer-service oriented,” he said. “You need to love working with people. You want to be customer- and security-oriented. You want to feel, when you come to work, that it’s also your home.”

A good doorperson has to treat the resident families like part of his or her own family and the property as an extension of the doorperson’s own residence, Echevarria explained. A good doorperson can’t let in just anyone, but they can’t act like a bouncer, either.

“You want to screen people who come in, politely,” Echevarria said. “Your job is to know how to treat this like it’s your home.”

Residents, he said, notice this and it makes them feel more at home in the condo.

“When you have confidence in your door staff, that makes your living environment that much more enjoyable,” Echevarria said.

As Echevarria makes the condos more of a home and treats residents like family, they, too, get to know him and make him almost a part of their family.

As a doorperson, Echevarria watches children grow up and families get larger — and he loves it.

“A lot of these residents have watched me grow and become a father,” Echevarria said. He became a father in 2013 and now has two daughters.

Between being a service industry professional, a husband and the father of two girls, Echevarria said he’s got his hands full of families.

“I’ve got two girls now,” he said. “One’s going to be 5 and one’s going to be a year and I have a beautiful, wonderful wife who takes care of the kids when I am at work. I get a few date nights here and there, but it’s all about work and family right now.”

 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

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.

All alone on Turkey Day with so much to do

In Chicago there is plenty to do on Thanksgiving, even if you are alone. Between the parade, the games, the shopping and movies, there is a full day of activities waiting.

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

At one time, Thanksgiving was a day for families to come together over food and enjoy each other’s company. These days, that’s not necessarily true for everyone. The holiday can be fun for the solo celebrant because Thanksgiving Day is as much a public holiday as it is a private holiday.

 

If you are alone, Thanksgiving could be a great opportunity to spend time catching up on reading, binging TV shows, going for a nature walk or doing whatever else you might want to do by yourself. But, for those who want company, you don’t have to spend the holiday alone.  These days, plenty of restaurants, bars, movie theaters and retail stores take advantage of the holiday and open their doors, so you will really only be as alone as you want to be.

 

First, if you have friends you know will be free, pick up the phone and call them. Don’t be afraid to set up a day for you and all your friends who couldn’t—or didn’t want to— leave the city to see their families.

 

Or don’t. Feel free to pamper yourself with a solo self care day; it is, after all, a holiday.

 

If you’re the athletic sort, join the flock and do the Turkey Trot, Chicago’s annual five or eight kilometer race. To avoid late fees, register as soon as possible www.turkeytrotchicago.com.

 

If standing still is more your style, don’t miss the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. The parade winds its way along State Street from Congress to Randolph. If you plan to see it live, get there before 7 a.m. to find a good spot and expect to stay through 11 a.m. if you want to catch the whole thing.

 

Once the parade ends, you will have several options for turkey day fun.

 

If you’re a sports fan (well, a football fan to be precise) then you have one goal—catch the game. There’s no need to sit at home and watch television,  as plenty of bars will be available for the Bears versus Lions game at 11:30 p.m. ET. In the afternoon, stick around for the Cowboys versus Redskins, and if you want to make a whole day of it, don’t miss the Falcons versus Saints, kickoff scheduled for 7:20 p.m.

 

Not a sports fan? Entertain yourself by dining out. Plenty of restaurants will be open the day of Thanksgiving, so if you don’t feel like cooking for yourself, don’t sweat it. For a full listing of what is available, check out the website www.opentable.com.

 

By the time the afternoon rolls around, you might be feeling ready to relax. Good news! Hollywood typically releases some of its most anticipated offerings in late November, and this year is no exception.

 

Opening the week of Thanksgiving, get ready for Creed II, Ralph Breaks the Internet or Robin Hood, an action movie based on the famous legend of English folklore. Want something a little subtler than a big blockbuster? How about The Front Runner, Jason Reitman’s chronicle of Gary Hart’s doomed presidential campaign, or Peter Farrelly’s The Green Book, the highly anticipated period drama set in the Jim Crow-era South. Finally, if Thanksgiving kicks off your Christmas spirit, check out The Christmas Chronicles, the first Christmas film of the season, opening Thanksgiving Day.

 

And of course,there is always retail therapy. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone else, there are plenty of opportunities Thanksgiving Day. Want something traditional? Check out the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, open Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Grab a glass of Gühwein and browse handmade wonders from around the world. Want something a little more name-brand? Wander down the Mag Mile and enjoy early Black Friday sales on your favorite merchandise.

 

If service is more your speed, there are homeless shelters and food pantries all over the city that need volunteers. Go online, find a nearby venue and spend your turkey day doing good.

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.

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