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Adjaye Dropped From Old Town Transformation After Sexual Misconduct Alleged
“David Adjaye, an international rock star of architects whose work includes Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will ‘step away’ from a major Chicago project in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations by three of his female ex-employees,” reports Lee Bey at the Sun-Times. In 2015, the Art Institute of Chicago hosted the first career retrospective of Sir David’s work as part of the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Says Fern Hill spokesperson Rebecca Carroll: “At this time, Sir David will step away from the project, and we will continue to move forward in the best interest of our local stakeholders and partners in this transformational opportunity for the City of Chicago.” Adjaye has left his post as architectural advisor to London Mayor Sadiq Khan. He also stepped down as a trustee of London’s Serpentine Gallery. He is “no longer associated” with plans to design and build a 95,000-square-foot public library in Oregon’s Multnomah County.
“While his work is praised around the world, he also faces claims of serious misconduct. Three women formerly employed by Adjaye… have accused him and his firm of different forms of exploitation—from alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by him to a toxic work culture—that have gone unchecked for years,” reports the FT. Adjaye: “I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for. I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives.” Archinect covered Adjaye’s selection as lead designer for redevelopment of the Old Town area in January 2022 here.
Morlen Sinoway Parting With Fulton Market Digs Of Two Decades
Custom furniture designer Morlen Sinoway, “who bought a Fulton Market District building more than twenty years ago to serve as his showroom, has put the property up for sale,” reports Crain’s. He “hired Chicago brokerage Greenstone Partners to sell the 15,000-square-foot building at 1052 West Fulton. The asking price for the three-story brick building one block west of Google’s Chicago office is just under $600 per square foot—or nearly $9 million—in line with the sums per square foot paid for other Fulton Market properties in recent years.”
Affordable Housing Disappears In Logan Square, Avondale, Uptown, Rogers Park, West Town
Two- and four-flat buildings continue to vanish throughout the city, reports Block Club. “The DePaul Institute for Housing Studies released its 2023 State of Rental Housing report, an analysis of census data ending in 2021. The report found North and Northwest Side neighborhoods are getting less affordable… For the second time in recent years, Logan Square and Avondale topped the list for biggest loss of affordable housing in Cook County submarkets.”
State Partners With Metra For Chicago-Rockford Service Starting In 2027
Governor JB Pritzker and state and local officials announced a partnership between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Metra to once again provide safe and reliable passenger rail between Chicago and Rockford, restoring service that was discontinued in 1981. The first trains are anticipated to start running by late 2027, offering efficient, economical travel with stops in between the two cities. More here.
Midwest Needs Passenger Rail
“Lincoln Service trains began traveling 110mph,” writes the Sun-Times editorial board of the Chicago-St. Louis line, “a welcome development in efforts to put our area’s rail on the right track. Better rail service overall would let travelers avoid congested highways and airports…The new speeds certainly won’t have operators of the 186mph Eurostar—which zooms from London to Paris in just over two-and-a-half hours—losing any sleep. But it’s a step up for Amtrak, an agency that has been starved for funding and reducing service virtually since its creation in 1971.”
Oak Park May Demolish Half-Century-Old Village Hall, Police Station
Demolishing Oak Park’s almost fifty-year-old village hall and replacing it with a new police station and municipal headquarters on the same site is being considered, reports Wednesday Journal. The cost is estimated at $118 million-$124 million. “The building, designed by noted architect Harry Weese, is aging out of its usefulness,” according to FGM architect Raymond Lee.
Third-Generation Owners Of Century-Old Clark Devon Hardware Sell To Employees
“Clark Devon Hardware, 6401 North Clark, was recently sold to its sixty-five employees as part of an employee stock ownership plan,” reports Block Club. “As third-generation owners Ken and Ed Walchak grew older, they didn’t have a clear successor to take over the ninety-nine-year-old business, which has swelled to over 15,000 square feet of specialty supplies for Chicago property managers… The brothers fielded out-of-state offers from corporate suitors, but that didn’t quite sit right [so they decided] their longtime employees were best to ‘carry on the family legacy.'”
CTA Updates Digital Signage
“In the past the digital destination signs—LED signage located above the windshield on the front of buses have featured street names and other information displayed in the center of the screen. That [information] is now shown left-aligned, at the left side of the screen, right next to the route number,” reports Streetsblog Chicago. “The new design puts the text closer to riders waiting for the bus on the sidewalk,” says a CTA spokesperson. “And it makes it easier for people’s eyes to home back to the same spot as info cycles or wraps two lines, which can make reading easier.”
DINING & DRINKING
Sideshow Gelato Builds Illinois’ Largest Sundae
“It’s insane. The largest sundae in Illinois is currently at twenty-one scoops. Here is the new special order sundae at Sideshow Gelato,” posts gelato majordomo Jay Bliznick. “Mr. J’s Fantastical Frozen Freakshow!” is a “Thirty-Five Scoop Gelato Sundae made with scoops of chocolate, vanilla, cookies & cream, with monstrous mountains (an entire can) of whipped cream, tantalizing toppings of bananas, cherries, Oreo cookies, sprinkles, crushed mixed nuts, gummy worms and gooey hot fudge and caramel sauce.” Ordered in advance, the titanic treat feeds fifteen to twenty, and “clocks in at eight pounds in the bowl… We had eight at the shop and barely made a dent. Yes it’s real. Yes, I am insane.”
Behind “The Bear” Flies Blackbird
One Off Hospitality’s Donnie Madia talks about educating the makers of “The Bear” at Eater Chicago; we learn that he worked for a year at Mr. Beef on Orleans—the inspiration for “The Original Beef of Chicagoland” of the second-season series—after escaping the Chicago Board of Trade. At Mr. Beef, the ever-affable hospitality maestro was befriended by owner Joseph Zucchero, who became an early investor in the restaurant that first made the name of the players of the enterprise, Blackbird. (Axios plucks some more bricks-and-mortar cameos here; Eater Chicago has their tour here.)
FILM & TELEVISION
Remembering Illinois Film Office Pioneer Suzy Kellett
Suzy Kellett, former director of the Illinois Film Office, was seventy-eight. Her time as head of the IFO, 1983-1994, was a transformative one for Illinois’ film industry. She went on to head the Washington Film Office, and remained in Seattle until she died unexpectedly in December. (The Seattle Times obituary is here.) “I worked for Suzy for seven years at the IFO and I can tell you that she was loved and admired by studio execs, producers, directors, local crew and fellow film commissioners everywhere,” longtime head of the Chicago Film Office Rich Moskal tells Newcity. “She was a champion of the local industry, a mentor to many, a powerhouse with a big big heart. And all the while she was the single mother of quadruplets!”
Janet Kerrigan Daily worked at the IFO from 1986-1992 with Kellett, who tells us that she “was not only an incredible boss, but a true mentor.” Kellett “had a great visual sense from having been a magazine photo editor. One of the many things she took on as the head of the IFO was the way Illinois marketed itself to Hollywood. Suzy spearheaded some incredible campaigns including a book of photos of the state—everything from the skyline to downstate barns. The book was a compilation by some of our best photographers and she sent it to everyone in L.A., who had a hand in choosing where movies would be shot.”
“In the mid-eighties, shoulder-to-shoulder with then-Governor Jim Thompson, she hosted breakfast roundtables at the Beverly Hills Hotel with every major studio and network production executive and L.A-based producer of note,” Moskal says. “This predated the era of rampant tax incentives and location decisions based largely on the calculations of studio accountants. You won their business with trust, and the honest, action-backed guarantee that you would solve their problems, unearth locations, hear them out and hold their hand. Suzy earned that trust many times over, even winning over hardliners like Martin Scorsese who seldom placed a camera outside New York City,” he says. “Suzy had a sincere, disarming charm. She met people where they were, no matter status or circumstance. A-list producers, government brass, union reps, crew… They all felt that she understood them. That she was in their corner.”
Ron Verkuilen, Kellett’s successor, tells us, “At the time Suzy was there, I was a location scout. When Suzy left for Washington, I was lucky enough to wade the political waters, and needless to say, followed a tough act, and was director of the Film Office until 2003.” Verkuilen, who had worked with Suzy for over a dozen years before that, says that “her legend is real. Uber-mom. Uber-boss. Uber-human being.” He attests to how Kellett laid the groundwork of the success of the film industry in Illinois today. “In the late eighties, when the Canadian dollar was at an all-time low, their government went full speed ahead on incentives to sweeten the pot so Hollywood would head north. It worked. Suzy understood that we were losing so much business, the only way to compete was to create our own incentives. As she said, build one that would be robust and lasting. Suzy had a great relationship with the head of the Ontario Film Development Board and she asked if he might be able to help her write our own broad-based incentives to compete with them once again! Bold ask. But Suzy charmed him. He agreed.
“Suzy went up to Toronto and came back with their actual incentive syllabus! When she returned, she recruited an actuary in Springfield who immediately drafted our own Illinois incentive, the one that is in place today. It took years and a lot of cajoling recalcitrant Republican legislators—as they were not big fans of Hollywood—for the bill to be put forward. But there is no doubt Suzy got the economic ball rolling. Her work not only put us on the location map, it has kept it there for years.”
“News of her passing reminded me of the opportunities she created and high standards she set,” Moskal adds. “For filmmakers, for Chicagoans in the industry, and for the film commissioners that followed her, here and nationwide. She set me on a path and I’m forever grateful.” There will be a memorial for Kellett on Sunday, July 16 at 1pm at the Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka.
Uptown was the hotbed of the Chicago film industry—in 1908, chronicles Robert Loerzel.
Iowa Meteorologist Leaves Under Climate Change Cloud
“The harassment started to intensify as TV meteorologist Chris Gloninger did more reporting on climate change during local newscasts—outraged emails and even a threat to show up at his house,” reports the Tribune. “Gloninger said he had been recruited, in part, to ‘shake things up’ at the Iowa station where he worked… The man who sent him a series of threatening emails was charged with third-degree harassment. The Des Moines station asked him to dial back his coverage, facing what he called an understandable pressure to maintain ratings… The thirty-eight-year-old announced that he was leaving KCCI-TV—and his eighteen-year career in broadcast journalism altogether.”
Teatro Zinzanni Takes Cabaret ZaZou Space
With the end of Cabaret ZaZou, Randolph Entertainment has announced a merger with theatrical cirque entertainment company Teatro Zinzanni. The Spiegeltent will reopen under the leadership of founder and creative director Norm Langill. Chicago audiences will remember previous runs in the Spiegeltent at the Cambria Hotel, blending theater, cirque, cabaret and exceptional dining. An opening date and ticket availability will be announced soon here.
Washington Post, Los Angeles Times At Length On Regional Theaters
“Still reeling from the pandemic, many of the country’s nonprofit theaters… are in deep financial trouble, in what is rapidly turning into the most severe crisis in the seventy-year history of the regional theater movement,” writes theater critic Peter Marks at the Washington Post. “It’s happening more and more and more, and it’s going to be an epidemic,” Michael M. Kaiser, former president of the Kennedy Center, tells Marks. “I’ve always believed that we were heading for a time that we were going to lose a whole lot of midsized cultural organizations. And I still believe that’s true.”
Subscriptions are an issue: “Regional theaters are having a particularly hard time putting back the pieces of their audiences,” writes Charles McNulty at the Los Angeles Times. “Subscriptions have long been a fundamental element of the nonprofit theater business plan. But surfeited with at-home entertainment options, former subscribers are preferring the flexibility of single-ticket sales… Communal ties have frayed. One consequence of the decades-long commercialization of nonprofit theater is that patrons have been transformed back into consumers by companies that have been forced to rely to an ever-greater extent on box office revenue… Theater as an institution may have evolved, but audiences haven’t fundamentally changed since they started gathering at dramatic festivals in ancient Greece. What they want is to be absorbed, to lose themselves for a couple of hours in a grander vision that leaves their hearts and minds a little larger than when they took their seats. A good story well told is a tried-and-true method of achieving this effect, but it’s not the only method… Theater’s broken business model won’t be solved by a few cracking good tales. But if theatergoers aren’t returning, perhaps it’s time to reflect on what they’ve been missing.”
“Theaters must think more expansively of themselves as communal spaces, not merely entertainment venues for stage presentations to ticket buyers; what does it mean to be a civic space, a public space, a ‘third place’?”, writes Andy Horwitz, founder of CultureBot, in a “lengthy, discursive essay.” “Not just to playact and pretend by using a bunch of grant language. How would you behave differently, speak differently, welcome people differently, allocate resources differently? How do you need to change as an institution… to be a truly inclusive, welcoming communal space? How do we rethink the regional theater system… as national communal infrastructure?” A key point in the long piece: “Be real about money: Unless you are willing to charge exorbitant ticket prices (Broadway, commercial touring houses), then the performing arts are not a sustainable business, much less profitable, and they’re not supposed to be.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
“Around Chicago firefly populations ‘got off to an absolutely terrible start this year,'” Doug Taron, recently retired curator of biology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum tells the Sun-Times. “Firefly populations have been under stress for reasons that include bright lights, dry weather and things we do that hurt the environment. Artificial light interferes with mating… Female fireflies flash to attract males. Bright lights can block those signals.”
Mayoral Agenda Released: It’s 223 Pages
“Nearly 400 Chicagoans, representing a wealth of diverse perspectives, served on eleven transition committees that offered ideas and recommendations for Mayor Johnson’s administration. They represent an unprecedented diversity of voices and perspectives—including diversity based on race, gender, generation, income level and neighborhood, and with representatives from business, civic, social justice and community-based organizations,” the City offers. “The final report is designed to serve as a blueprint, for building bridges between the city’s diverse communities and voices and between vision and action, so that every child, every family, and every neighborhood can experience the fully embodied Soul of Chicago that the Mayor invoked in his inauguration speech—so that all of our neighborhoods are safe, equitable and truly thriving.” Read it here.
NASCAR Permit Fee To Park District Modest Beside Lollapalooza Rent For Grant Park
“The three-year agreement [with NASCAR], with a two-year renewal option, calls for the Park District to receive a $500,000 permit fee. That pales by comparison to the $8 million to $9 million Lollapalooza pays every year to rent Grant Park,” reports Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times. Additional income: “Fifteen-percent net commissions on the sale of concessions and merchandise, and $2 for every admission ticket sold.” (Here’s how NASCAR built and shipped 2,200 barrier walls to Chicago.) But Chicago Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareño defends the choice, reports the Sun-Times. “She called the agreement ‘consistent with how we’ve treated others like Lolla when it first started. The approach was the same. A base fee for the use of the park with a commission and a per-ticket fee… As these events grow, the idea is that, as they do better, we do better… The agreement is intended to grow as the event grows.’”
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