Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Haymarket Building

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Willard Jones Real Estate recently welcomed The Haymarket Building, located at 117 North Jefferson Street, into its leasing portfolio and has been tasked with returning this West Loop gem back to full occupancy. The new owners have some exciting plans for future upgrades and we are ecstatic to be part of this project.

Most local real estate brokers who have been in the industry for a while likely associate 117 North Jefferson with a prior owner, Mr. Henry Latkin. For over 40 years, Henry owned, managed, leased, entertained and even resided here. While his style might have been viewed by some as eclectic, you have to respect and admire an individual with that kind of staying power who enjoyed himself so much in the process. Being an avid and courageous world traveler, Henry accumulated quite a collection of art from all sorts of exotic places around the globe including Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many of these items were prominently displayed around the building. He was one of the first downtown owners to develop a rooftop deck. Outfitted with sculptures, trees and a full-blown garden, this was often used for hosting parties and special events. Henry even ran a small bed and breakfast on the rooftop level and many brokers were awarded a free night or two as a thank you for completing a deal in the property.

Whenever we take over a new leasing assignment, one of our first tasks is to develop an appropriate marketing program. Given this property is known as the Haymarket Building, it seemed like a no brainer on the surface to work with that somehow. However, as you dive deeper into the history involved with this name, it becomes a much more complicated decision.

The challenge, in this case, is how to strike a respectful tone which acknowledges the loss of life while commemorating the significance of the event itself and what it eventually laid the groundwork for. Taken literally, the Haymarket was essentially a large farmers market that serviced a West Loop neighborhood which at that time was heavily populated by working-class families and factory workers making low wages and struggling to get by.  Over time, it morphed into a town square and popular gathering place for these individuals.  Following an incident at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant in May 1886 where Chicago police officers killed two protesters and wounded several others who lived in the neighborhood, a peaceful rally was planned for the following night at Haymarket Square (Randolph Street between Lake Street, Des Plaines and the modern-day Expressway). Once the police arrived to keep order, an anonymous person threw a stick of dynamite killing several police offices and a massive riot erupted. While this was a very significant moment in the American labor movement, it also led to a series of trials which concluded with questionable convictions and public hangings for some people that might have been innocent.

By all accounts, the Haymarket Building was named more so for the neighborhood rather than the event and this is what we have decided to focus on.  The farmers market was generally regarded as a place of happiness for the workers by all accounts.  The riot was a huge moment in American history and deserves to be remembered, but not celebrated. Our ultimate synopsis can be summed up with the following statement: Sitting on a historically significant land site in Chicago’s West Loop, the Haymarket Building at 117 North Jefferson pays tribute to those working class individuals who used to congregate at the nearby Haymarket Square farmers market in the 1880’s, as well as those permanently impacted by the Haymarket Affair that sent shock waves around the world and served as the catalyst for the American labor movement.

Once historical perspectives are properly dealt with, we can then turn our attention to all of the amazing attributes that 117 North Jefferson has to offer, such as exposed brick walls, high timber lofted ceilings, great natural light, efficient floor plates and a committed and service-oriented ownership group. The building also possesses one of the best locations in the West Loop, close to Ogilvie Transportation Center, Union Station and just a few blocks from Fulton Market (and at much lower prices to boot).

Tenants and brokers, we hope you will give The Haymarket Building at 117 North Jefferson a close look if you or your clients are in the market for office space at a historically noteworthy location. We think you will be pleased with what you see.

REMEMBERING A CHICAGO LEGEND

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I know this is supposed to be a real estate blog, but I must make an exception this month and pay tribute to an individual who was a huge part of my childhood, one Chester William “Chet” Coppock.

For those not aware, Chet was the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Sports Talk Radio” and there really is no disputing this fact, as he flat out invented this genre at a time it did not exist. After successful stints as the producer of the 1971 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks radio broadcast, sports anchor at WISH-TV in Indianapolis (where he proudly was voted as both the most and least popular broadcaster on local television) and lead national play-by-play commentator for the Roller Derby, Chet returned home in 1981 and became an icon in the Chicago sports scene. He established a heightened profile when hired as the sports director at NBC-5. After being fired there for “personality conflicts,” Chet transitioned over to WMAQ radio in 1983 and hosted Coppock on Sports, an in-depth, interview driven sports talk show. This was the first of its kind.

Chet hit the peak of his popularity when he moved Coppock on Sports over to the ever-popular Loop AM-1000 in 1988. His show was a who’s who of sports. If you were a big name, you just had to be a guest on Chet’s show. Supplementing his radio work was his starring role in WWF (before it was known as the WWE) events that frequently came to Chicago, as well as hosting shows with Mike Ditka and Phil Jackson. When the talk show ended in the mid-1990’s, Chet moved on to New York for a bit where he hosted the national NBA radio broadcast and did a live nightly television show. He eventually returned to Chicago and wound up his career by hosting Notre Dame radio broadcasts, doing work for the Blackhawks and writing several books.

After learning of Chet’s tragic and untimely death last week, it brought back a flood of memories. My friends and I listened to his radio show religiously and imitated him nonstop. Still do, to this day. So many of Chet’s patented lines became part of our regular vocabulary. Here are a few examples:

• You know you really made it when Chet referred to you by your full name: Michael Keller Ditka, Michael Jeffrey Jordan and of course, who could forget the General, Robert Montgomery Knight
• When you reached the pinnacle of your sport, such as winning a championship, you reached the top of the “big rock candy mountain”
• Everyone he interviewed was “his good friend” even if he barely knew you
• If you are the best in your field, you are the “creme-de-la-crème” and a top performance was “par excellence”
• Ready to go out and celebrate? Go out and “knock down some Drambuie”
• Whenever someone would call into his show, he would answer by saying “your dime, your dance floor”
• The Loop AM-1000 was a 50,000-watt radio station, or as Chet called it “the 50,000-watt blowtorch broadcasting over 38 states and Canada.” No one ever knew if this was true.

Chet was a master promoter and handsomely rewarded for it. Not only was he a spokesperson for Chevrolet, he would invite you regularly to visit Lawry’s Restaurant, home of the “spinning salad bowl” and Bigsby’s Sports Bar and Grill, where you can knock down the Michael Jeffrey Jordan 23-ounce steak.

He went through Diet Cokes like there was no tomorrow. You could often hear him cracking open several during a typical show (as well as occasionally munching on a sandwich). While blatantly eating dinner on air, he would toss out one of his patented lengthy questions which were often longer than the answers from his interviewees. To buy more time so he could finish up his meal, his follow up was always, “Can you amplify upon that?” That was code for, I need more time to finish up what I am doing behind the scenes.

Chet was the first to admit that he was a gimmick, but he was pure Chicago in every sense, from attending 68 consecutive Bears home openers to having legendary Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse as the godfather of his daughter. There are not many 6’6” men who could pull off walking around in a full-length fur coat, but Chet was the one. It so fit his personality. If there ever was a real-life example of Ron Burgundy, he was it.

A few years ago, while at the Greektown Walgreens in the West Loop, I saw Chet there literally right in front of me. I so badly wanted to shake his hand and tell him how much I loved and admired his work…and I completely froze and said nothing. Boy, do I regret that now.

Chet, where ever you may be, I hope you are on top of the Big Rock Candy Mountain in the sky sipping on a giant glass of Diet Coke and knocking down a Michael Jeffrey Jordan 23-ouncer. Thanks for the memories.

Your Reputation Precedes You

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Spring has arrived in Chicago and baseball season is now underway. As we look forward to another exciting campaign, an annual highlight for me is the opportunity to listen to renowned White Sox commentator Steve Stone and his expert analysis. One of his favorite refrains is to tell “all you young players out there watching at home” the proper way to fundamentally handle a situation. To borrow that mantra as it relates to commercial real estate, I would like to share some wisdom with all you young brokers out there.  Your reputation precedes you.  At the end of the day, it is all that you really have to go by in this business. Once it is trashed, good luck trying to succeed.

Common sense dictates that clients and fellow brokers prefer to work with individuals who are honest, hard-working, ethical and will follow through with promises. When you are regarded to have these traits, you will be amazed at how people tend to gravitate your way. Tenants, landlords and brokers alike will be inclined to try and do business with you whenever possible.  Referrals will follow on a regular basis and people will grow to respect you. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is.

Conversely, once you acquire a reputation of being dishonest, deceptive, lazy and/or all about the commission, word will travel fast. The commercial real estate industry is relatively small and tight-knit.  It has a barber shop component to it where fellow brokers like to sit around and gossip from time-to-time. If you rub enough people the wrong way, it will eventually all catch up to you.  After all, you know what they say about karma.

Don’t get me wrong, this business can be really difficult sometimes.  Brokers work on commission and there are plenty of spells where deals are few and far between.  We all have to make a living and plenty of us have families to support. Hence, it can be awfully tempting to take the easy way out, step on some toes and hold back on sharing critical information in order to get a deal done.  In spite of it all, ethical behavior must always win out.  If you tell a lie, it will come back and bite you, usually twice as hard.  Businesses want to work with people who have their best interest in mind, not those who only care about the size of their commission.

Undoubtedly, there have been instances where I have cost myself money by being overly candid.  I could have easy told a white lie or kept some details to myself just to get a deal done. On other occasions, I could have easily pushed tenants towards longer-term leases for no other reason than to pad my pocketbook and probably gotten away with it. Still, I refuse to act this way.  I simply have too much respect for people and the extreme effort they put forth towards establishing a successful business. Without exception, the number one rule to live by in business is the Golden Rule.  Plus, the internal guilt I would feel (thanks, mom) would render me useless for days.

So, all you young brokers out there, I cannot urge you strongly enough to do learn this lesson early in your career and never forget it.  After all, you do not want to have people feeling like they need a shower after they have an encounter with you. Sure, you will strike out or commit an error from time-to-time, but in the long run, there will be plenty of home runs that you can build upon.

Oh, and one more thing. To a particular broker out there who might be reading this blog and wondering if it is being directed towards him or her, it sure is, buddy.

IN SPITE OF IT ALL, DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’

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So here we are nearing the end of February and this winter really seems to be dragging on, way more so than most. As I just start to get over my third cold in the last three months, I feel like I am usually seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by now, especially with spring training officially underway. Well, that theoretical tunnel is nowhere to be found.

Sure, Chicago winters are never a treat and I should be used to Mother Nature’s wrath by now after spending my entire life here, but this one seems particularly brutal. As I get older, I now understand why people I once mocked at a younger age choose to become Arizona or Florida snowbirds for the winter. The latest rendition of the polar vortex was excruciating and the continuous cycle of snow, ice, slush, freezing rain, wind chill warnings and winter weather advisories are just wearing me down.

Of course, it is more than the weather that has contributed to this long winter season. Consider some of the headlines making news over the past few weeks. On a national level, we have experienced an unnecessary government shut down, a seemingly never-ending investigation into Russian collusion, an alleged national emergency at the southern US border, a massive divide in our nation growing wider by the day and Amazon being spurned by New York (or vice versa) along with the realization that this entire Amazon HQ2 search was a gigantic waste of time and energy. In Chicago, we have witnessed another senseless mass shooting in Aurora causing loss of innocent lives, no let-up in the ridiculous amounts of shootings and crime around town, the apparently fraudulent saga of Jussie Smollett, a mess of a mayoral campaign with no clear front runner, corrupt aldermen being investigated by the FBI, and yet another lawsuit trying to stop what would be a transformation addition to Chicago in the Obama Presidential Center (didn’t we learn from the Lucas Museum debacle?). Last but not least, we cannot forget Sterling Bay’s battle to get the Lincoln Yards development approved amidst neighborhood backlash.

Do I dare even bring up the Chicago sports scene?  It will be a long while before I am over the Cody Parkey “double doink” debacle and these feelings were exasperated after watching the most uninspiring Super Bowl ever played. Now we have the Bulls being just good enough to fail in their “Dyin for Zion” pursuit and the Blackhawks alternating from being a candidate for the first pick in the draft to sneaking into the playoffs and likely losing in the first round.  Meanwhile, the Cubs are dealing with all of kinds of off the field distractions and as for the Sox, damn you, Manny Machado!

Are you still there? Have I depressed you enough yet? While it is so easy to let all of these things get you down, believe it or not, there is still some good out there to help us push through. For example, how about the group of good Samaritans who pooled their money together and put over 70 homeless people up in a hotel for all three nights of the polar vortex.  Then there are the relatively small, but still meaningful, acts of kindness like a group of people I witnessed running to assist a man at Ogilvie Transportation Center who tripped and fell and, in the process, dropped a gigantic box filled with Girl Scout cookies on the train tracks (all were successfully rescued, as it would be a tragedy to let a perfectly good box of Tagalongs go to waste). Next, there was a real estate broker I recently completed a deal with who donated 100% of his sizable commission to the not-for-profit group he represented. The funds were used to benefit a number of underprivileged children in their quest for a better education. These acts of kindness, no matter the size, still give me hope that all is not lost with the world. Will everything suddenly get better once temperatures start to rise and the sun begins to shine more frequently? Probably not, but at least our collective demeanors will be brighter. After all, there is no better city in America than Chicago in the summer (until we have our first 90-degree day and I start complaining again about the heat and humidity). Till then, to quote the great Steve Perry of Journey fame, “Don’t stop believin’.”

2019 Predictions

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Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2019, it’s time again to dust off the crystal ball and predict what lies ahead for the new year.  Before we begin, let’s take a look back and see how my 2018 guesses playout out:

1) The market will keep marching forward at a slow and steady pace. Average rents will remain consistent with 2017 levels. However, modest vacancy increases will help put tenants on a more level playing field, which[ might even lead to an advantage in certain circumstances. For the most part though, we will be at equilibrium.  Ding-ding-ding! This is exactly what happened.

2) Sales activity will start to slightly pick up towards the end of 2018 due to lowered seller expectations and prices creeping downward. Those who have been sitting on the sidelines will start to get back in the game.  Not exactly. Activity remained steady and there is no sign of prices going down anytime soon. Those on the sidelines generally stayed put.

3) The Tribune Tower redevelopment plans will be announced and feature luxury apartments on the upper floors and a hotel on the lower half. The first two floors will be leased to a significant (and surprising) national retailer which will continue to accelerate the shift in retail activity towards the Chicago River and Millennium Park. The luxury apartments (and condos) as well as the hotel are happening, but no announcement of any retail tenants just yet.

4) As part of the ongoing Willis Tower renovation, Willis will give up its naming rights. Will the Sears name be restored? Nope, instead the building will be rechristened after its largest tenant. Welcome, United Tower.  This was very wrong.  Spoiler alert: I am not giving up on this idea just yet.

5) No new office developments will be announced, as there is more than enough going on now to satisfy every tenant currently in the market for the next few years.  A huge swing and a miss, as Salesforce Tower Chicago and BMO Tower will be joining the skyline in about 2 years.

6) After being declared a finalist, Amazon will ultimately not select Chicago for its HQ2. Atlanta will be declared the big winner.  Atlanta?  What in the world was I thinking?

7) As a strong consolation prize, Chicago will attract a significant corporate headquarter that will relocate here from another Midwest city. This tenant will become the anchor of the Old Post Office.  Nope, although Chicago did do well in continuing to lure several new tenants from both the suburbs and other cities. The Post Office landed two significant users in Walgreens and Ferrara.

8) With Amazon out of the picture, Goose Island, the River District, and believe it or not, Fulton Market, will struggle to find tenants. Of course, Lincoln Yards will not, because Sterling Bay.  No struggles at all from Fulton Market, but the other developments are still in the planning stages and yet to land any office tenants.

9) Plans will be announced to shut down and demolish the Thompson Center by the end of 2019. No firm redevelopment plans will be announced and the site will end up sitting vacant for an extended period of time. However, the State of Illinois’ search for new office space will provide a nice little boost to the market towards the end of the year.   Nah, this was essentially a non-story in 2018.

10) Take two on this prediction. Spurred on by the legalization of sports betting, plans will be announced for the former Michael Reese Hospital site to be redeveloped into a casino and entertainment complex…… which will include a grocery store.  No dice here, as Mayor Emanuel pushes the casino for the southeast side.

Okay, so 2018 was not one of my better efforts. Let’s see if I can improve upon my psychic abilities for 2019.  Here we go.

1) After an extended period of growth, leasing activity will begin to slow across the board in downtown Chicago. There will not be a full-blown collapse by any stretch, but absorption will be down and concessions will increase as competition becomes fiercer to attract tenants. Rents will generally remain steady as owners still struggle to cope with the unprecedented property tax increases.

2) A slowing market combined with a weakening economy will bring on the first group of distressed sales downtown in quite some time. This will be the first step in sales prices becoming a bit more reasonable as compared to the past few years.

3) An owner of multiple downtown office buildings will put their portfolio up for sale and exit the Chicago market.

4) Some cracks will begin to appear in the co-working phenomena. WeWork will tap the brakes on expansion in 2019, while two of their competitors merge together and another shuts down entirely.

5) None of the planned developments on the outskirts of downtown (Lincoln Yards, The 78, Burnham Lakefront, River District) will be successful in landing an anchor office tenant. One of the developers, citing economic concerns, will completely shelve their project for several more years.

6) While these planned developments struggle, the Fulton Market locomotive keeps on chugging, as another major corporation will announce plans to relocate their operation to a new Sterling Bay-developed property in the district.

7) Certain segments of retail will continue to struggle, but the Mag Mile starts to rebound. Multiple new, non-traditional concepts will sign leases and set up shop on North Michigan Avenue, all at significantly lower rents than in the past.

8) Speaking of North Michigan Avenue, the former Hancock Building will land a new anchor tenant of the tech variety and gain naming rights to this iconic property as part of the deal.

9) While on the topic of naming rights, let’s try this one again.  The Willis Tower will have a new name by this time next year.

10) A well-known tenant in the tech industry who occupies a significant portion of their building will substantially scale back in 2019 and put their space up for sublease.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!


The 2018 Top Ten Events in Downtown Chicago Commercial Real Estate

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Amazingly, another year has flown by.  As 2018 comes to a close, it is time to look back on the year that was in downtown Chicago commercial real estate.  While activity has generally held steady, there are some subtle signs that the market is slowing.  Nevertheless, it was an interesting and active time with many notable storylines that could end up shaping the future of our city.  Let’s now review the past 12 months with my top 10 list of events:

10.  Motor Row, Start Your Engines! – Led by former Chicago Bears Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers’ planned redevelopment of 2222 South Michigan, along with the opening of several hotels, restaurants and live performance venues, Motor Row is finally starting to realize its vast potential. While there is still quite a bit of work to do, it is now not too hard to see the grand vision for this South Loop neighborhood coming alive at long last.

9.  Bear Down, Wacker Drive – Speaking of the newly crowned NFC North Division Champions, the Chicago Bears opened an 11,000 square foot office at 123 North Wacker Drive.  This is quite a significant deal for a prominent building undergoing a revitalization after a down period. The staff of 35 employees relocated from Soldier Field in order to free up space for more conferencing and special events at the renowned stadium.

8. The Gamble Pays Off– After rolling the dice and constructing a new high-rise on speculation with no anchor tenant, CA Office and White Oak Realty Partners’ gamble paid off nicely, as CDW inked a lease at 625 W. Adams St. for approximately 300,000 square feet. This brings the property all the way up to 68% leased.

7.  Googleville – Let’s face it, if not for Google’s decision back in 2015 to relocate their Midwest headquarters to 1000 West Fulton Market, Fulton Market would not be what it is today. Not only did Google fill up the rest of the available space in this building, they also leased an additional 132,000 square feet at soon-to-be completed 210 North Carpenter, firmly establishing themselves as the anchor of this dynamic neighborhood.

6.  Facebook Likes Chicago – Facebook’s expansion into 263,000 square feet at the newly constructed CNA Tower at 151 North Franklin is yet another example of how Chicago is gradually growing into a national tech powerhouse.

5.  The Old Post Office Delivers – Walgreens and Ferrara Candy Company became the first tenants to commit to the Old Post Office. While only accounting for approximately 10% of this massive 2.8 million square foot structure, these leases, in conjunction with the many upgrades planned to this showcase structure, promise to serve as a catalyst for future success.

4.  Stretch Those Boundaries – Lincoln Yards, The 78 in the South Loop, the Burnham Lakefront at the former Michael Reese Hospital site, and the River District at the Chicago Tribune printing plant location all represent momentous efforts by developers to expand the outer borders of the downtown market. While major questions remain on who exactly will occupy the space and how to get people to and from these places, it does create a new layer of competition for the traditional downtown areas.

3. Co-working More and More – From WeWork’s seemingly endless expansion, to growth by competitors such as Convene, Industrious, Spaces and several new entrants into the Chicago market, co-working is showing no signs at all of slowing down.

2. The Development Never Ends – The planned construction of Salesforce Tower Chicago at Wolf Point and BMO Tower at Union Station pile onto this extended development cycle. While the skyline will gain some beautiful new edifices anchored by top-notch tenants, more vacant space will be added to the market in not just these new properties but also in the buildings where these tenants are relocating from. Might this be the beginning of the end for this expansive market?

1. Amazon Snubs Chicago – Chicago made an admirable run and allegedly finished in the top 5, but ultimately fell just short as Crystal City, Va, Long Island, NY and Nashville, TN, ended up splitting the grand prize. While the pros outweighed the cons, on the bright side, we no longer have to hear about this story every 10 minutes. There you have it. In my next blog, I’ll let you know what I predict to be in store for 2019. Happy Holidays, everyone!

The Best of Chicago for 2018

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It is officially the season of giving and Willard Jones Real Estate is here to help.  To contribute to your holiday fun, we hereby present the first annual (possibly) Willard Jones Real Estate Best of Chicago Awards for 2018.  Apologies in advance to anyone we may have missed or offended.  The only ground rule is that the winner must do business in the City of Chicago.  Without further ado, away we go.

CATEGORY 1:  FOOD

Best Deep-Dish Pizza: Lou Malnati’s (multiple locations); runner-up: Pequod’s (2207 N Clybourn)

Best Thin Crust Pizza: Martino’s (3431 W Peterson); runner-up: Pete’s Pizza (3737 N Western)

Best Hot Dog: Superdawg Drive-In (6363 N Milwaukee); runner­­-up: Downtown Dogs (804 N Rush)

Best Italian Beef: Mr. Beef (666 N Orleans); runner-up: Al’s Beef (1079 W Taylor)

Best Cheeseburger: Twisted Spoke (501 N Ogden); runner-up: Au Cheval (800 W Randolph)

Best Corned Beef Sandwich: Manny’s (1141 S Jefferson); runner-up: Eleven City Diner (1112 S Wabash)

Best Ice Cream: Chocolate Shoppe (5337 W Devon); runner-up: Margie’s Candies (1960 N Western)

Best Gyro: Nick’s Drive-In (7216 N Harlem); runner-up: Hub’s (5540 N Lincoln)

Best Ribs: Gale Street Inn (4914 N Milwaukee); runner-up: Twin Anchors (1655 N Sedgwick)

Best Steak: Prime & Provisions (222 N LaSalle); runner-up: Chicago Chop House (60 W Ontario)

 

CATEGORY 2:  RESTAURANTS

Best Italian Restaurant: Zia’s Trattoria (6699 N Northwest Hwy); runner-up: Tufano’s (1073 W Vernon Park)

Best Mexican Restaurant: El Cid (2645 N Kedzie), runner-up: Cafe El Tapatio (3400 N Ashland)

Best Mediterranean Restaurant: Naf Naf Grill (multiple locations); runner-up: Old Jerusalem (1411 N Wells)

Best Asian Restaurant: Sunda (110 W Illinois); runner-up: Joy Yee (2139 S China Place)

Best Deli: Tony’s Italian Deli & Subs (6708 N Northwest Hwy); runner-up: Fumare Meats (131 N Clinton)

Most Romantic Restaurant: Tango Sur (3763 N Southport); runner-up: Geja’s Café (340 W Armitage)

Best Brunch: Gather (4539 N Lincoln); runner-up: Lula Café (2537 N Kedzie)

Best Food Hall: French Market (131 N Clinton); runner-up: Revival Food Hall (125 S Clark)

 

CATEGORY 3: BARS and SPIRITS

Best Dive Bar: Old Town Ale House (219 W North); runner-up: Burke’s Web Pub (2026 W Webster)

Best Sports Bar: State (935 W Webster); runner-up: Public House (400 N State)

Best Beer Garden: Sheffield’s (3258 N Sheffield); runner-up: Chief O’Neill’s (3471 N Elston)

Best Rooftop Bar: Cindy’s (12 S Michigan); runner-up: The J. Parker (1816 N Clark)

Best Local Beer: Revolution Brewing (3340 N Kedzie); runner-up: Half Acre (2050 W Balmoral)

 

CATEGORY 4: CHICAGO THINGS

Best Neighborhood: Old Town; runner-up: Lincoln Park

Most Interesting Street: Lincoln Avenue; runner-up: Milwaukee Avenue

Best L Line: Brown Line; runner-up: Blue Line

Best L Station: Washington – Wabash; runner-up: Cermak – McCormick Place

Best Movie Theater: The Music Box (3733 N Southport); runner-up: Davis (4614 N Lincoln)

Best Live Music Venue: The Elbo Room (2871 N Lincoln); runner-up: Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln)

Best Live Theater: Second City (1616 N Wells); runner-up: Windy City Playhouse (3014 W Irving Park)

Best Barber Shop: Civic Opera Salon (20 N Wacker); runner-up: none

Best Yoga Studio: The Space Between (222 W Hubbard); runner-up: none

Best Park: Lincoln Park; runner-up: Millennium Park

Best Hotel: Alise (former Hotel Burnham – 1 W Washington); runner-up: Four Seasons (120 E Delaware)

Best Touristy Thing to Do: Architectural Boat Tour; runner-up: visit the Museum Campus

Best Sports Venue: United Center; runner-up: Guaranteed Rate Field

Best College Sports Program: Loyola Men’s Basketball; runner-up: Northwestern Football

 

CATEGORY 5: REAL ESTATE

Best Office Building Lobby: Franklin Center (227 W Monroe); runner-up: Santa Fe Building (224 S Michigan)

Best Office Building Exterior: 77 West Wacker; runner-up: Wrigley Building (400-410 N Michigan)

Best Classic Architecture: The Rookery (209 S LaSalle); runner-up: Monadnock Building (53 W Jackson)

Best Roof Top Deck: Civic Opera Building (20 N Wacker); runner-up: One Prudential Plaza (130 E Randolph)

Most Iconic Building: Willis Tower (233 S Wacker); runner-up: Merchandise Mart

Most Exciting New Development: The 78; runner-up: Lincoln Yards

Best Redevelopment: Old Post Office; runner-up; Tribune Tower

Best Tenant Rep Agency: CBIZ Gibraltar; runner-up: Colliers

Best Tenant Rep Broker: Jim Raisher (Corporate Real Estate Solutions); Tony Karmin (Colliers)

Best Landlord Rep Agency: Cushman & Wakefield; runner-up: Telos Group

Best Landlord Rep Broker: Dan Shannon (Aspire Properties); Aaron Zaretsky (Urban Innovations)

Best Co-Working Space: 1871 (Merchandise Mart); runner-up: Tech Nexus (20 N Wacker)

Now, bring on the debate!  Let us know who we excluded and how crazy we are for a certain selection.  Happy Holidays!

Why I Love/Hate Chicago

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I complain about things out of my control. Some of the recipients of those complaints? The weather, CTA, and people who annoy me. Where have I found all of these things in one place? The city of Chicago. I can utter the words, “I love this city!” and “I hate this city!” simultaneously, so I challenged myself to pick each topic and fit in both points of view.

So here is why I love/hate Chicago:

Fall

Boo: Fall is the most overrated season of all time. Not only does it last about 8 seconds, but it is also a reminder that 6 months of dark, freezing, icy, sadness is just around the corner. And don’t get me started on the pumpkin spice flavored everything. I probably just put pumpkin spice gasoline in my car. Plus, that first fall morning when I step outside onto the frost-crusted grass and can see my breath…it causes my insides to curl inside themselves. Essentially, I spend 1/3 of the summer being sad that fall is on its way because I know that it’s only the appetizer to winter which is even worse. Did you know that it snowed on April 18 this year? APRIL!

Yay: Fall in the Midwest is so beautiful. I love to grab a cozy drink and just walk around to see kids bundled up playing football in the park, step on crunchy leaves, and see the trees change from yellow to orange to red (especially from way-up-high) Not only that, it’s the right temperature to get snugly  while still being able to do fall activities like visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches, which just aren’t the same without a flannel shirt. Plus, Halloween isn’t Halloween without a long sleeve shirt or jacket under my costume.

The people

Boo: People who visit me in Chicago have, on multiple occasions, pointed out how much faster I walk and how much meaner I look since moving to the city. I blame it partly on having to learn to avoid the Green Peace and ASPCA people on all of the corners downtown. Now, my first instinct when someone comes up to me is “what are they trying to get from me?”.  That thinking encourages more entitlement and spiciness from people; everyone’s always honking their horn, cutting people off in traffic, and swearing at bicyclists (who, to be fair, are also very annoying; you don’t get to be a pedestrian AND a car).  Bottom line, in any city there are the creeps, the weirdos, and the ones you shouldn’t make eye contact with; my pink pepper spray I got as a Christmas gift–while never used–has been my little safety blanket for some iffy times.

Yay: I like to think that most people in the world want to do good and be good. And with a lot of the individuals I’ve met, that has been the case. In Chicago, I met people who will truly be friends for life. Right after I moved here, I quickly got into the volleyball community–and it really is a community–and it blew my mind how quickly everyone was to grow their friend group. They are like one big giant family–one who sets up tents, volleyball nets, and grills at 6 a.m. on the Fourth of July for an all-day barbecue. In my experience with almost anyone, even when a person seems standoffish, I try to greet them with kindness and their mood flips almost instantly. People hold doors open, are willing to help with directions, and understand the need for manners (most of the time). I’ve gotten that “we’re all in this together” feel a lot of the time.

The public transit

Boo: Are you kidding? I can hardly go a day without refreshing the CTA’s twitter page to find out why there’s another delay on the Brown Line during rush hour (of course). Let’s not forget the excruciating TENS of minutes spent on the platform in below-zero weather, standing beneath a flimsy lamp heater that makes me feel like an egg in a middle school science classroom. Oh how I love having someone’s arm hair in my face or worse, being the unlucky patron stuck in the middle of a crowded train car, not blessed with long enough limbs to reach a bar to hold, trying to get a wide enough stance to balance, while hoping that the conductor doesn’t make any sudden movements. Or perhaps walking onto the train and getting a whiff of a stale, farm-like stench, praying that it’s not from urine that was left un-mopped and is now the reason your shoes are sticking to the floor.

Yay: Cruising by car after car in stop and go traffic is one of my favorite pastimes. Once I’m aboard, I know the train will take me 21 minutes to get to work, which is, conveniently, just enough time to watch an episode of The Office and have a few pre-work laughs. Even when it’s rush hour, I don’t have to pay attention to the road or focus on anything but distracting myself. And back to the weather, (unless you’re spoiled with a heated garage) when you wake up to find an inch of ice clung to your windshield and must spend 10+ minutes scraping and clearing it away, sweating in your puffy jacket? I’ve never had to scrape ice off the windows of the train.

Oh Chicago, you have made me feel so many things in the past 7 years. I love your lake that looks like an ocean, your buildings that are equally beautiful whether it’s night or day, and your endless restaurants and trendy cocktail bars. Not a big fan of your weather for 8 months out of the year, but we toughed it out. No matter where I go after you, however, nothing will change the space you occupied in my heart as my sweet home Chicago.

What Did I Ever Do To Them?

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The scene: The Old Town Ale House, on the southeast corner of North and Wieland. It is a sleepy Tuesday night in October in the city of Chicago. LaSalle Street somberly walks into its favorite watering hole and bellies up to the bar. LaSalle’s old friend, Bobby, is bartending tonight.

LaSalle: Hey, Bobby. Scotch on the rocks and make it a double, will ya?

Bobby: Sure, LaSalle. You seem down tonight. What’s troubling you?

LaSalle: I just don’t get it. First, it was all of the trading firms going away. Then, the Roanoke Building, the New York Life Building, and Barrister Hall all got rid of all their office tenants. Now, Northern Trust, Bank of America AND BMO Harris want to leave me. What did I ever do to them?

Bobby: As Dylan once said, the times they are a-changin’. I guess you can’t stop progress.

LaSalle: Progress my left curb! I am LaSalle Street, damn it! You know, the most prestigious thoroughfare in downtown Chicago? The home of local and national banking headquarters, important financial institutions, the most cutting-edge trading firms and some of the city’s most powerful law firms. If you have a business in one of these industries, you know you hit the big time if your office has a LaSalle Street address. Gaze south down my famed canyon all the way to the Board of Trade, you cannot tell me you are not awed by the brilliant architecture and fascinating histories of each edifice. My street is clearly the place to be!

Bobby: No doubt, it’s been a great run.

LaSalle: Heck, the ‘85 Bears, the greatest football team ever assembled, chose my street for their ticker tape parade to celebrate their Super Bowl XX victory. Ditka, Payton, McMahon, Singletary, Fridge. It don’t get better than that! The ‘05 Sox picked me, too. Get me another Scotch.

Bobby: Coming right up. With all due respect, sometimes you gotta get with the times and adapt.

LaSalle: Adapt? Why? I have the greatest location in the city. Close to the courts, trains, business headquarters. City Hall is right here. So is The Fed. I got it all!

Bobby: Your location is dynamite, La Salle, but technology is changing the way firms office. There is a lot of action west of you right now, especially along the river. People like views of the river, a short walk to the trains, new glass and steel towers with efficient floor plates, and no columns or dropped ceilings. Then there are all the amenities, like rooftop decks, fitness centers, and game rooms…it gets tough for older buildings to compete.

LaSalle: Come on, you’re telling me tenants no longer want dropped ceilings, oversized offices with paneling on the walls, columns, or fluorescent lights with flat acrylic covers? And these views and amenities you mention, people come to work to do work, not stare out the window and play around.

Bobby: These darn Millennials are changing everything.

LaSalle: (staring blankly into his nearly empty glass): You know, I guess I should have seen it coming when all those trading firms started leaving the Board of Trade; then ABM AMRO left 208 South LaSalle, practically emptying out the building. Now there are TWO hotels there, not to mention two more down the street at 39 South and 11 South. Heck, I hear 29 South is even being turned into apartments. Imagine that, people living on my street. I never thought I’d see it.

Bobby: LaSalle, isn’t this a good thing? Beats having empty, worn down buildings.

LaSalle: I guess, but I still can’t understand why all these businesses are leaving. Who’s next?
Bobby: Not everyone is gone. Didn’t CIBC just sign a big new lease at 120 South and Wintrust, too, over at 231 South? Plus, Northern Trust has recommitted to staying at 50 South. These are all big deals!
LaSalle: True. Another scotch.

Bobby:Slow down, big guy. This one’s on me. Then I am going to call you a cab.

LaSalle: Sure, but make it a cab, not one of those Uber things.

Bobby: Look, if I were you, I would view this as an opportunity for a fresh beginning. Just think, you can redefine yourself as a place where people, work, live AND play. Plus, the office component is never going away completely. The Rookery is still one of the all-time greats and very few buildings can compare with the elegance of 190 South and 120 South; 120 North, too, for that matter.

LaSalle: I am proud of those beauties.

Bobby: And look at 1 North LaSalle. The building sold, the new owners tore out ceilings, created a swanky lounge, outdoor space, fitness center, and all kinds of modern amenities. The occupancy shot up and I hear it just sold again for a fortune.

LaSalle: No doubt that’s encouraging, but how are 115 South, 135 South, and 231 South going to survive when their big boys leave? Those will not be easy spaces to lease.

Bobby: They will figure it out. These real estate guys are smart. Maybe they will break the space up into smaller suites. Perhaps they will get lucky and stumble upon a big user, maybe they go residential or hotel or even do co-working?

LaSalle: I don’t get that whole co-working thing, but heck, if WeWork wants to come in and lease 100,000 square feet, who am I to stop them?

Bobby: Keep the faith, good buddy, you have one of the most convenient locations in the city, great history, and amazing architecture; no one will forget about you. It’s simply time to write the next chapter.

LaSalle: Thanks, pal. You always know how to make me feel better. Three scotches don’t hurt either.

Bobby: Anytime. Drop on by to celebrate your next new lease or redevelopment announcement.

LaSalle then stumbles out into the night and hops into a cab, still feeling nervous, but a bit more optimistic about what the future holds.

Retro Chicago

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So, Chicago is going to have a new mayor in 2019. In reviewing the rather uninspiring list of candidates thus far, the thought crossed my mind: what could one of them do to step up to the forefront and win my support? Here are 25 suggestions:

1) Issue an edict permanently renaming 233 South Wacker Drive as “The Sears Tower” and 875 North Michigan as “The John Hancock Center” until the end of time.

2) Macy’s, back to New York you go! Welcome back, Marshall Fields. I miss those green bags. While we are at it, as beautiful as the renovated Sullivan Center turned out, let’s bring back Carson Pirie Scott as well.

3) The city should have never bothered pushing the Block 37 development. Skate on State was just fine. Haul in the hoses and cold weather and lace up those skates.

4) Immediately reconstruct 300 West Washington. I never understood why this building was demolished and the land is still sitting empty 20 years later.

5) Restore service to the State & Washington Red Line station.

6) While on the topic of the CTA, bring back the tokens. No particular reason.

7) There are so many dearly departed restaurants which need to be re-opened. For starters, there is a huge void in the hot dog category. Fluky’s, Demon Dogs, Hot Doug’s and Irving’s shall be reconstituted day one of the new administration. As a side note, declare putting ketchup on a hot dog a Class B felony.

8) Other restaurants that will be making a comeback: Las Pinatas, Ina’s, Basta Pasta, Greektown Gyros (oh how I miss the 3:00 AM gyro, pizza puff, and cheese fry combo), Bones, Chicago Brauhaus, and Sabatino’s (you are not really closing soon, are you?)

9) We cannot leave out the classic bars and taverns that need to reappear: John Barleycorn on Lincoln, McCuddy’s, Life’s Too Short, The Artful Dodger, The Big Nasty (including Elvis on the roof), Thurston’s and Lounge Ax.

10) Grocery shopping? One word: Dominick’s. If for no other reason, so they can bring back the “Let’s Go To The Races” game.

11) Guaranteed Rate Field/U.S. Cellular Field shall permanently be re-christened as Comiskey Park.

12) I like the United Center, but it will never compare to the Chicago Stadium. The real Madhouse on Madison shall be reincarnated.

13) Ozzie Guillen shall be signed to a lifetime contract to manage the White Sox. Same thing with Coach Ditka and the Bears, just so we can enjoy the grand return of “The Mike Ditka Show” starring Johnny Morris before every Bears game.

14) Speaking of Johnny, he along with Bill Kurtis, Walter Jacobson, John Coughlin and ace reporter John “Bulldog” Drummond will be restored as the primary Chicago news team. If for some reason they are not available, we will then take back Ron Majors, Carol Marin, John Coleman, and Marc Giangreco.

15) Son of Svengoolie will return to television every night.

16) On the radio, the Loop AM & FM will be back. Classic rock will be covered on the FM side, while the AM will welcome back Johnny B, Kevin Mathews (with Jim Shorts), Steve & Garry and Chet Coppock.

17) For the kids, Costco in Melrose Park will be razed immediately to make way for the return of Kiddieland

18) Enough of Taste of Chicago. ChicagoFest will be a thing once again.

19) This so-called Jane Byrne Interchange will resort back to whatever it was before. That cannot possibly be worse than the traffic mess we have now.

20) For those needing a place to shop for fine clothing, Bigsby & Kruthers shall reclaim its rightful position on Clark Street. While we are at it, bring back Bigsby’s Sports Bar & Grill, too.

21) Parking meter deal? What parking meter deal?

22) Dibs will be legalized.

23) Celozzi-Ettleson (Where you always save more money!) and Schmerler Ford (Home of the Singing Ford Dealer!) are back in business, just so we can experience the legendary commercials again.

24) Enjoy the grand re-opening of Flip Side and Tower Records. After all, vinyl is in vogue again.

25) On a personal note, 100 West Monroe, 11 South LaSalle, 29 South LaSalle, 39 South LaSalle and 203 North Wabash will become office buildings once again.

If there is a mayoral candidate out there who can deliver on at least some of these items, I will be first in line to cast a vote in their favor. Better hurry, the election is right around the corner.