Obama Center Spurs South Shore Gentrification
“South Shore has experienced the largest share of homes for sale bought by investors than any other neighborhood in the city, raising concerns over housing affordability,” reports Manny Ramos at Illinois Answers. “Recent data shows investors flocking to surrounding neighborhoods at higher rates than ever before… Investors are converging heavily in the neighborhoods surrounding the incoming Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park as they snatch up nearly a third of homes for sale just in the third quarter of 2022… Investor landlords tend to raise rent and impose fees while also moving quickly to evict renters without just cause, (Michelle) Gilbert said. That’s a big issue for South Shore considering it has had the most eviction filings than any other community area every single year since 2010.”
Chicago Architecture Center Partners With City On “Come Home” Initiative
The Chicago Architecture Center has launched Come Home, a multi-staged competition for architects and developers to reimagine and redesign standard housing typologies with an emphasis on density, affordability and replicability. This design excellence initiative and competition “looks to bring infill housing to six target neighborhoods within the city’s INVEST South/West community development program. Aimed at increasing affordable home ownership and incentivizing local emerging developers, Come Home seeks to create a community development model that will welcome current and former Chicago residents ‘back home.'” The first phase of this competition, the request for qualifications (RFQ) is here; Architecture firms are encouraged to complete the RFQ before Monday, January 9.
Fulton Market Looking At Yet Another 2,100 Apartments
“Three developers are rolling out plans for as many as 2,100 apartments and an office tower at the north end of the Fulton Market District, adding to the growing list of high-rise projects proposed for the fast-growing neighborhood,” reports Crain’s.
Milwaukee County Considers Demolition Of Mitchell Park Domes
“The future of Milwaukee County’s Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory—fondly known as just the Domes—has always been precarious. But with the approval of a new county policy, its future could be nonexistent,” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Supervisor Juan Miguel Martinez suggested that when the public sees that demolition is also costly opinion could solidify toward preservation. ‘As the county residents begin to gain understanding of the costs associated with destroying the Domes, transferring the plant collection, and rebuilding the site of the building, I am confident that public opinion will continue to trend toward saving this Milwaukee icon.'”
DINING & DRINKING
Kevin Boehm On Restaurant Costs
“The economic climate allows us to raise prices without as much pushback as usual. Elevated prices rarely go backwards in the restaurant industry,” writes Boka Restaurant Group’s Kevin Boehm at Plate. “The soft market of traditional retail allows restaurants to negotiate better lease deals and sign more management deals… For the consumer this means that Alla Vita, our Italian restaurant in Chicago, has raised the price of its bucatini dish from $19 to $22, and the negi toro maki that was $10 at Momotaro is now $12. If you’re looking for one of the silver linings from the last messy two years, this redraft might be it. It allows the industry to reconfigure the restaurant economic system, it gives our hardworking teams more money, and it allows for better pay equity between front and back of house. It also allows owners to build a long-term model that’s not always dancing on the edge of failure.”
Profiling Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
It’s personal, writes the New York Times of Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz, who declined to be interviewed: “His opposition to a union isn’t primarily about the bottom line, friends say. It clashes with his image of Starbucks as a model employer… Mr. Schultz, sixty-nine, appears intent on defusing interest in a union before he leaves the company next spring for the third—and, dare one say, final—time. He has thrown himself into providing new benefits and wage increases, but withheld them from employees in the union, which represents about two percent of the company’s U.S. work force of more than 250,000. When asked in an interview in June if he could ever imagine embracing the union, Mr. Schultz responded with a single immovable word: No. He has alluded to a downside for customers, and some labor experts argue that a union could seek to limit the number of syrups, powders and foams that can be added to drinks, as a way to ease the burden on baristas. Such ‘modifiers’ brought in about $1 billion during the last fiscal year and have helped drive record revenues…The stakes extend far beyond Starbucks. The union campaign has helped give rise to labor organizing at a variety of other companies, including Apple, Trader Joe’s and REI. If the union manages to wring significant concessions from Starbucks, it could accelerate organizing elsewhere and help change the relationship between management and labor across the country.”
Weber Grill Taken Private For $3.7 Billion
Grill company Weber is going private in a deal valued at about $3.7 billion, reports the Sun-Times. “Byron Trott’s BDT Capital Partners has struck a deal to take Weber private, little more than a year after leading a public offering for the Palatine-based grill maker,” reports Crain’s. “Weber ran into financial trouble very soon after it became a public company. Its grills and other outdoor cooking products saw significant sales growth during the pandemic when people were holed up at home. But sales declined with the easing of pandemic restrictions.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Ordinances Protect Pickwick Theatre Building
“Local law ensures the Pickwick’s facade will be preserved regardless of who owns the building or what its use is,” reports the Tribune on the history of the Art Deco palace in Park Ridge. “The local Park Ridge preservation ordinance has more teeth to preserve the Pickwick than does its status on the National Register of Historic Places… Under the ordinance, ‘no alteration may be performed on any site designated as a landmark’ without a ‘certificate of appropriateness’ or in response to cases of severe damage.”
Trailblazing Broadcaster Floyd Brown Was Ninety-Two
“Smart and personable with ‘the gift of gab,’ Floyd Brown worked for WGN-TV and WGN radio” 1971-1999, reports the Daily Herald (via the Sun-Times). In his fifty-four-year-career “on TV, he served as newscaster, sports anchor and host of a show called ‘Nightbeat.’ On the radio, he was host of the long-running, jazz-centered ‘Floyd Brown Show,’ interviewing legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.” Among the barriers Brown broke: “In 1965 he went to WMAQ-AM, where he was the first African American hired by a major network.” (WGN Radio has clips.)
Remembering Actor Danny Goldring
At the Reader, Kerry Reid collects remembrances of the beloved Chicago actor Danny Goldring, who was seventy-six. “He viewed himself as wanting to try everything. And it wasn’t about lead roles, it was about unique roles.”
Chicago Shakespeare Presents Wise Children’s “Wuthering Heights”
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s WorldStage Series returns with “groundbreaking theatermaker Emma Rice’s exuberant reimagining of Emily Brontë’s gothic masterpiece,” “Wuthering Heights.” The production combines live music, dance, puppetry “and a dash of impish irreverence to create an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time.” It is a co-production with the National Theatre, Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre. “Wuthering Heights” runs as a limited engagement in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, January 27–February 19. The production marks a return of Emma Rice’s boundary-pushing work to Chicago Shakespeare, previously seen in her celebrated “Tristan & Yseult” with Kneehigh Theater in 2014 and the presentation of Wise Children’s musical comedy “Romantics Anonymous,” streamed live from Bristol Old Vic in 2020. Both productions were part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s WorldStage Series, which has featured more than 1,300 artists in ninety-six productions from twenty-two countries spanning six continents. “Wuthering Heights” marks the return of in-person WorldStage performances after a two-year hiatus of international touring. More here.
Step Afrika! Makes Auditorium Debut In January
Step Afrika! will make its Auditorium Theatre debut for a one-night-only performance on Saturday, January 14. Step Afrika! is the world’s first professional dance company dedicated to the dance tradition of stepping— the percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities. Blending stepping with traditional African dances and an array of contemporary dance and art forms, Step Afrika! “presents a cohesive, and compelling artistic experience. Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.” “The Auditorium Theatre is a haven for all different styles of dance,” Auditorium Theatre CEO Rich Regan says in a release. “We are thrilled to present Step Afrika! in their Auditorium Theatre debut and for our audiences to experience this company’s unique blend of step dance, African dance, contemporary dance, and performance art.” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Joseph Kromelis, Chicago’s Walking Man, Was Seventy-Five
Seven months after being set on fire as he slept on Lower Wacker Drive, Joseph Kromelis has died. Chicago’s iconic figure haunted the streets of the Loop and the North Side of the city for decades. Doctors initially said he “was not expected to recover after he was lit on fire for nearly three minutes. His upper body was engulfed in flames, and he suffered third-degree burns over sixty-five-percent of his body,” reports the Sun-Times. His assailant “was charged with attempted murder and arson. It was not immediately clear how those charges could change after Kromelis’ death,” reports Block Club.
City Of Chicago To Talk Marketing Resources For Artists
The City of Chicago Marketing Assets and Resource Guide is a partial list of City of Chicago Marketing Assets that are available to the local arts industry, compiled by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) for its Performing Arts Convening: Marketing and Audience Development last October. On Thursday, December 15, join DCASE and key city marketing staff who will go through the resource guide and answer questions from the community. (View and download the four-page Marketing Assets and Resource Guide in advance here.) The virtual event is Thursday, December 15, 3pm-4pm. Reserve for the Zoom session here.
Jesse White Will Continue With His Tumblers
“To sit in Jesse White’s memento-, award- and photo-lined office in the Thompson Center, itself about to pass from government service, is to be plunged into a series of complicated tales about dramatic moments in his life—playing baseball for the Cubs organization, his thirty-five parachute jumps with the 101st Airborne Division—two realities that were interconnected. Fresh out of college, he was drafted four days before he was to start playing with the Cubs,” writes Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times on the exit of the man who has been Illinois Secretary of State since 1999. Why retire now? “‘I spent sixteen years as a state lawmaker, six as the Cook County recorder of deeds, twenty-four years running the largest secretary of state office in the nation, eight years of professional baseball. Military. Teacher,’ said White, who’s eighty-eight. ‘As they would say in my neighborhood, it was time for me to “Take a TZ.” But I’m going to still be actively involved with the Tumblers because, as I’ve said before, I’ve had 18,500 kids and only fifteen have gotten into trouble. Every year we give twenty of those kids a scholarship.'”
Planning Commission Endorses Casino Plan
“The city’s planning agency Monday approved zoning for the proposed Bally’s casino at Chicago and Halsted, a step in the $1.7 billion project’s journey through government approvals,” reports the Sun-Times.
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