WBEZ | West Loop http://www.wbez.org/tags/west-loop Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en ‘Unconscious discrimination’ at play in the West Loop? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-13/%E2%80%98unconscious-discrimination%E2%80%99-play-west-loop-112369 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214562738&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">&lsquo;Unconscious discrimination&rsquo; at play in the West Loop?</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Coming under fire for racially-charged comments made at a recent community meeting about rental development in the West Loop, Alderman Walter Burnett said he stands by his comments about the area becoming a &lsquo;bigot neighborhood.&rsquo;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Many residents spoke out against more rental units coming to the West Loop, stressing homeowners provide stability to a neighborhood; renters come and go quickly. Burnett said preferring renters only or homeowners only is a form of &ldquo;unconscious discrimination&rdquo; and he&rsquo;s fed up. Alderman Burnett joins us to discuss what measures he&rsquo;s putting in place to make sure the area is a mixed community. Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, also joins us talk about how the group wants to promote a responsibly diverse community.</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:</span></strong><span style="font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">&nbsp;<em><a href="https://twitter.com/AldermanBurnett">Walter Burnett</a> is a Chicago alderman and Carla Agostinelli is the executive director of <a href="http://westloop.org/">West Loop Community Organization</a>.&nbsp;</em></span></p></p> Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-13/%E2%80%98unconscious-discrimination%E2%80%99-play-west-loop-112369 'Uber-gentrification' a force in Chicago's West Loop http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-gentrification-force-chicagos-west-loop-111257 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uber-gentrification1.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="Meatpacking trucks in the shadows of the new Google Chicago headquarters on West Fulton Market. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />Chicago&rsquo;s West Loop used to be called Skid Row &mdash; a dark stretch of emptiness and foreboding industrial buildings. Then in 1990, a local talk show host moved her Harpo Studios into a former cold storage warehouse on west Washington Street.</p><p>Call it the Oprah Effect.</p><p>The neighborhood underwent a massive transformation that hasn&rsquo;t really slowed down since. Oprah Winfrey is long gone. But blocks away another new occupant in a former cold storage warehouse is now the one making waves.</p><p>Call it the Google Effect.</p><p>Google won&rsquo;t move into its new Chicago headquarters on West Fulton Street until next year. But it&rsquo;s already turbocharging more development, a phenomenon some researchers call &ldquo;uber-gentrification.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If you think of uber relative to what &mdash; so now it&rsquo;s not residential, it&rsquo;s uber relative to the kind of commercial space or the kind of manufacturing that was there,&rdquo; said Janet Smith, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who compiled the gentrification index.</p><p>Smith says while people aren&rsquo;t really being displaced, the same can&rsquo;t be said for businesses.</p><p>&ldquo;And now you&rsquo;re finding art galleries, you&rsquo;re finding bougie restaurants. So what&rsquo;s replacing it is both a different clientele and different land use and probably contributing differently to the tax base,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>A flood of new techworkers is expected to fuel even more exclusive retail in the area.&nbsp; Already this year the Soho House opened a private club with a rooftop pool. It joined swanky cocktail venues and other seen-and-be-seen hotspots on Randolph and Fulton.</p><p>On a recent Friday evening before the sun set, customers crowded Green Street Smoked Meats. As a line of people stretched near the door, the inside sounded more like a nightclub than a rib joint.</p><p>Even during the economic downturn, this corridor proved to be recession proof with celebrity chefs setting up shop along restaurant row.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/westloop-small_0.gif" title="It's easy to see the redevelopment of West Fulton from 2007 to 2014 in Google Streetview images." /></div><p>&ldquo;If private sector decisions move the community to where we might have more higher-end retailers, where we might have higher-end restaurants, then let it be,&rdquo; said Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Randolph Fulton Market Association, a nonprofit economic and community development group.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not just the private sector. Investment has been deliberate here. Two decades ago the city created a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to spur economic development.</p><p>The city has also given a slew of incentives to the tech industry, and the number of building permits has remained steady.</p><p>But this part of the West Loop isn&rsquo;t all shiny new offices and high-end restaurants. The area is eclectic and gritty. Remnants of the old meatpacking district are still on full display.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uber-gentrification2.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="A meat warehouse on West Fulton Market (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />There&rsquo;s the rumble of trucks, the scent of animal carcasses, and on a chilly afternoon, workers washing a sidewalk in front of El Cubano Wholesale Meats.</p><p>Rolando Casimiro is one of the owners. He said he&rsquo;s not fazed by all the new development.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve always embraced the new businesses, the new restaurants, the new nightclubs. We&rsquo;ve had our issues, we&rsquo;ve resolved them as neighbors. We have a great relationship standing with them. The issues that arise, we deal with them as neighbors. We don&rsquo;t need the government to come in,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Businesses want uneven sidewalks fixed and more stoplights, but less city interference in landmarking historic buildings. Now that the area&rsquo;s a hip destination, they worry landmark restrictions could ultimately hurt their property&rsquo;s resale value.</p><p>Roger Romanelli says he hears that concern a lot. But overall, he thinks &ldquo;uber-gentrification&rdquo; is working out just fine here.</p><p>&ldquo;People are evolving together. People are working together. There&rsquo;s no winners and losers. There are winners and winners and more winners and we&rsquo;re all working it out together &mdash; residents, businesses and property owners,&rdquo; Romanelli said.</p><p>But UIC&rsquo;s Janet Smith said there are losers when it comes to who rents.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/28/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;If people think the next best thing is I can rent this out to a high-end gallery rather than to a low-end gallery, they&rsquo;re going to go with the high-end gallery. Well, the low-end gallery is showing the up-and-coming artist, not the established,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>As the business boom continues, a sort of exclusivity sets in &mdash; for better or worse.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to think about what are we doing five years from now that we are either going to regret or we missed an opportunity to keep that diversity that everyone wants,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Back when Fulton and Randolph were sleepy, industrial strips, the homeless and unemployed in the area used to hustle for warehouse work.</p><p>People like Clifford Smiley, who Romanelli and I encountered on the street during our interview.</p><p>&ldquo;They moving a lot of homeless people out of here and we don&rsquo;t have no place to go, and place to get honest money. These restaurants are coming along but what about us? I&rsquo;ll wash a window for a dollar,&rdquo; Smiley said.</p><p>Romanelli then turned to Smiley and discussed an employment training program. After talking for a moment, Smiley quietly asked Romanelli if he&rsquo;d buy him a sandwich.</p><p>Romanelli said he could get him something to eat at the nearby Starbucks.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-gentrification-force-chicagos-west-loop-111257 Cash Register company closes doors after 120 years in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/cash-register-company-closes-doors-after-120-years-chicago-103586 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/620-register.jpg" title="An antique cash register from a hotel bar at the A.J. Thomas Midwest Cash Register Company in Chicago’s West Loop. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65655157&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>After 120 years in business, the A.J. Thomas Midwest Cash Register Company in Chicago&rsquo;s West Loop is closing.</p><p>The small business has been at the heart of Chicago retail for more than a century.</p><p>A.J. Thomas sold and serviced cash registers for restaurants, bars and stores around the city.</p><p>By now, most businesses have swapped gleaming brass registers for computers.</p><p>Owner Dorothea Alfini&#39;s family is only the third to run the business since 1892. They&#39;ve moved storefronts a couple of times over the last century, but never strayed from the West Loop.</p><p>The company kept up with technology - they sold electronic Point-of-Sale systems too. Those customers will merge with a company in Indiana, and Alfini said she&#39;ll still be part of the business.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/350-register.jpg" style="float: right;" title="After 120 years in business, the A.J. Thomas Midwest Cash Register Company in Chicago’s West Loop is closing. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" />But it&#39;s the end of the line for the mechanical and antique cash registers the company sold.</div><p>Alfini decided it was time to ease toward retirement after her husband passed away last year. He started in the cash register business when he was 12. She worked alongside him for more than four decades.</p><p>Her one remaining employee, age 75, is retiring too. She said he&#39;s about the only one left who knows how to fix the old registers if they break.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a dying art because within a few years they&rsquo;re going to be gone,&quot; she said about the antique registers.</p><p>The storefront and warehouse on Randolph Street is having an everything must go sale. Thousands of antique cash registers, tools and parts for sale. And just about anything they can pry off the walls, if someone wants it.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/350-register2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="After 120 years in business, the A.J. Thomas Midwest Cash Register Company in Chicago’s West Loop is closing. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p>Alfini said the neighborhood has changed as much as the business.</p><p>&ldquo;You just look out the window,&quot; Alfini said. &quot;What used to be a run down bar is now a condo building. What they used to call the Madison Street bums - they&rsquo;re all gone.&rdquo;</p><p>Just next door, a new restaurant and winery has opened up. Down the street, fancy coffee shops flank both corners.</p><p>And she said their name - Alfini - is fitting for the moment.</p><p>&ldquo;It means the end,&quot; she said. &quot;That&rsquo;s what the last name means. So yeah, I&rsquo;m the end of this whole thing.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 07:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cash-register-company-closes-doors-after-120-years-chicago-103586 Clarence Wagner's bridge http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/clarence-wagners-bridge-99334 <p><p>The Congress Parkway bridge over the river finally re-opened a few weeks ago. If you&rsquo;re like most of the thousands who drive it every day, you probably don&rsquo;t realize the bridge is officially named for Clarence Wagner.</p><p>When the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway was being built in 1953, Clarence Wagner was one of Chicago&rsquo;s most powerful politicians&mdash;perhaps <em>the</em> most powerful. He was 14th Ward alderman, chairman of the council&#39;s Finance Committee and his ward&#39;s Democratic committeeman. Mayor Martin Kennelly was well-meaning but weak, so Wagner practically ran the city.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-23--Clarence%20Wagner%20Bridge_0.JPG" title="The Clarence P. Wagner Memorial Bridge" /></div><p>Chicago-born to a German father and an Irish mother in 1904, young Clarence Wagner had caught the eye of his local ward boss and moved up steadily in the organization. He was elected alderman in 1942, and&mdash;more importantly&mdash;became ward committeeman in 1947. &nbsp;&ldquo;He was a bright and audacious lawyer with a sardonic sense of humor,&rdquo; one reporter remembered. Because of his distinctive voice, friends called him &ldquo;Gravels.&rdquo;</p><p>In July of 1953 Cook County Democratic committeemen held a meeting to choose a new chairman. It was assumed to post would go to County Clerk Richard J. Daley. Party insiders whispered that Daley would then challenge Kennelly for mayor in the next primary.</p><p>But at the meeting, Alderman Wagner asked that the vote for chairman be delayed two weeks. His motion carried. The meeting adjourned, with Daley still just another committeeman.</p><p>You can read conflicting explanations of what Wagner was up to. Most likely, he&rsquo;d decided he was just as qualified as Daley to be county chairman . . . or mayor.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-23--Ald%20Wagner_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Alderman Clarence Wagner (City of Chicago)" /></div><p>In the meantime, Wagner took a short fishing vacation with another politician and their young sons. The alderman was at the wheel of his Cadillac on a Minnesota road the morning of July 10th when he missed a turn and crashed the car. Though the passengers escaped with injuries, Clarence Wagner was killed.</p><p>Mayor Kennelly wept when he heard the news. So did many other politicos, for Alderman Wagner was well-liked. Crowds packed the wake at his home on May Street, and the funeral Mass at Visitation Church. A hundred cops were put on special duty to keep the traffic moving.</p><p>Would Wagner have become mayor if he&rsquo;d lived? We&rsquo;ll never know. Daley did become party chairman, and did oust Kennelly from the mayor&rsquo;s chair in 1955. And of course, Daley the Younger later won the office.</p><p>But the Daleys weren&rsquo;t the only political dynasty that arose with Clarence Wagner&rsquo;s death. The man chosen to succeed Wagner as 14th Ward alderman was Joseph Burke&mdash;who was eventually followed by his son, still-serving Ed Burke.</p><p>Four days after Wagner&rsquo;s death, the city council voted to name the new expressway bridge after their late colleague. In all the years since then, there has never been a plaque on it dedicated to Clarence Wagner&#39;s memory. Now would be a good time to correct that oversight.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/clarence-wagners-bridge-99334 Why Chicago's West Loop neighborhood is a hot spot for diners http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/why-chicagos-west-loop-neighborhood-hot-spot-diners-96134 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/marche_west loop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For more than a decade, Chicago's West Loop area, the neighborhood just west of the Kennedy Expressway, has been a destination for cutting edge eateries and chefs trying new concepts.</p><p>In late February, chef Jared Van Camp opens his latest venture Nellcôte. The restaurant was inspired by Villa Nellcôte where the Rolling Stones recorded their album <em>Exile on Main Street</em>. Van Camp told Tony Sarabia about what diners can expect from the new venture.</p><p>Restaurateur Kevin Boehm also joined the conversation to explain what challenges exist in opening new restaurants. Boehm is co-founder of the <a href="http://bokagrp.com/" target="_blank">Boka Restaurant Group</a>, which runs many restaurants in the city, including Girl and the Goat in the West Loop.</p><p>In her work, freelance food writer Carly Fisher follows the trends happening on Chicago's dining scene and she explained why diners-and chefs-keep making their way to the West Loop.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/why-chicagos-west-loop-neighborhood-hot-spot-diners-96134 Sara Lee will move headquarters back to downtown Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-will-move-headquarters-back-downtown-chicago-94724 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-08/photo1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Downtown Chicago will soon call itself home to the corporate headquarters of another company. Sara Lee, which is currently based in west suburban Downers Grove, will soon split into two companies. One of the new companies, which will focus on meats, will relocate to Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, the company announced Thursday.</p><p>The move will bring at least 500 jobs to downtown Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city will provide up to $6.5 million to Sara Lee.</p><p>"You're here to stay," Emanuel said Thursday at a news conference. Sara Lee had been headquartered downtown, but moved to Downers Grove in 2005.</p><p>"We would need, as a smaller, more entrepreneurial company, we need to create a lot of buzz and it's very difficult to get that buzz and energy in an area where it's very quiet, so I think we need that environment of Chicago," said Jan Bennink, the executive chairman of Sara Lee.</p><p>Some of Sara Lee's meat brands include Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, and Jimmy Dean. The new meat company still does not have an official name. The company expects to move into its new space in early 2013.</p><p>Emanuel said he's not in a battle with the suburbs to persuade businesses to move to the city, but he did say, "We won."</p></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 16:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-will-move-headquarters-back-downtown-chicago-94724 Walmart opens first store in downtown Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/walmart-opens-first-store-downtown-chicago-92265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Walmart is continuing to branch out in the Chicago market. It opened its first downtown store Wednesday.</p><p>This Walmart is not like the other Wal-Marts in Chicago or even Illinois. After years of battles with Chicago politicians and labor unions, the company is now gearing this new West Loop store to a more urban clientele. Walmart calls it a Neighborhood Market.</p><p>"Here is a juice display where we've essentially got about 16 feet of juice products for customers," Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo said while standing the middle of the juice aisle.</p><p>"The point is, again, even though the store is smaller, we still want to offer customers that broad assortment," he said.</p><p>The store has eight full-length aisles with products ranging from produce to mops and brooms. Restivo said six or seven more Walmarts are planned for inside Chicago's city limits, with even more in the works by 2015.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/walmart-opens-first-store-downtown-chicago-92265 Dear Rosie: Forget commuting, move to the West Loop (my guide to the neighborhood, post-Oprah) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-30/dear-rosie-forget-commuting-move-west-loop-my-guide-neighborhood-pos <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-30/rosie-final.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="300" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-30/rosie-final.jpg" title="" width="400"></p><p>The <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/people/4570947-421/rosie-odonnell-keeping-home-in-new-york.html">Sun-Times reported that Rosie O'Donnell will NOT be moving to Chicago</a>, instead opting to commute from her home in suburban NY.</p><p>I think it's a great move that Rosie O'Donnell is coming to Chicago to tape her OWN&nbsp;network show in the Harpo Studios space. As Oprah leaves Chicago television production, it will no doubt leave a void and not unlike the move Jerry Kleiner is making, could change the fabric of the now-burgeoning West Loop neighborhood.&nbsp;</p><p>What we are seeing is a second generation of star power. Rosie joins celebrity chefs Grant Achatz (Next) and Stephanie Izard (Girl &amp; Goat) as the new West Loop.</p><p>But please. If you want to be a Chicago favorite, at least move into the neighborhood.</p><p>I always liked Rosie O'Donnell. Her stand-up comedy was groundbreaking and her daytime TV show was at least interesting (I never really watched it because I was in my 20s, and frankly, people in their 20s don't have time for daytime TV). I did get to see more of her when she had the brief stint on <i>The View</i> because internet video was introduced to the masses. I loved how she sparred with her co-hosts and created some memorable TV moments. She is a good host. Now let's hope she can be a good neighbor.&nbsp;</p><p>I've lived in the West Loop for a couple years now. And to prove that I don't have a problem coexisting with big egos, I am offering my expert services. I can give Rosie a quick tour of what to visit and what to avoid. I can tell her what times are the best times to get in at Wishbone (avoid Sundays around 11am). I can act like her visiting relative and point out what the buildings <em>used</em> to be before Chicago changed.&nbsp; "Rosie, that bar used to be a funeral home (West End)." "Rosie, that bar used to be a Bar Louie (Haymarket)." "Hey Rosie, that bar used to be owned by Chelios (abandoned building)."</p><p>I could also offer real Chicago history lessons. "You know, Rosie, this used to be skid row. Yep, this used to be $5 prostitute territory. Now, it will cost you at least $50."</p><p>"Hey, hey Rosie - I think Mary Todd Lincoln lived over by Washington somewhere, after the assassination. A lot of people thought she went crazy..."</p><p>My hope is that Rosie lives in the West Loop and walks to work like Mike Quade does in Wrigleyville.&nbsp;Don't go set up a crash pad on Michigan Avenue. That's Oprah-style - not cool. She had business here, but lived in a different area of the city. We need a celebrity to come work AND&nbsp;live here.</p><p>There is so much housing inventory, you could buy several two bedroom condos (really, a bedroom and a walk-in closet) right next to each other and knock down a couple walls. It would be good for the market. If you act fast, you might even be able to get a good deal on the Blockbuster store, which is going under. Make that your own entertainment room. I'll help with the parties.&nbsp;</p><p>In closing, Rosie, I would love to have you as a neighbor. Maybe it would force the Dominick's to clean up the elevators. Maybe it would force the Madison #20 bus to stop bunching up every rush hour. Maybe it would even force Whitney Young High School from recruiting violations.</p><p>Oprah's time is up. It's your time to shine. Come to the West Loop (jingle): We aren't skid row anymore.....</p><p>I can't wait to have you over, neighbor.</p></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2011 19:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-30/dear-rosie-forget-commuting-move-west-loop-my-guide-neighborhood-pos So Bud bought Goose Island. Look on the bright side, we might see some hilarious Goose Island commercials! http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-29/so-bud-bought-goose-island-look-bright-side-we-might-see-some-hilari <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-29/SpudsMcKenzie1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="410" width="313" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-29/SpudsMcKenzie1.jpg" /></p><p><strong>Top story</strong>: All hell is breaking loose because <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/anheuser-busch/anheuser-busch-buys-goose-island-beer-company-84359">Spuds McKenzie bought Goose Island</a>? Relax everyone. It's going to be fine.&nbsp; I, for one, can't wait for the hilarious Goose Island commercials with young drinkers doing whatever it takes to get a 312 or a Honkers Ale. Honkers Ale? I'm sure the fine people at Leo Burnett are already working up a line of ads that give us &quot;Honker Man,&quot; who despite his big nose and geeky persona, scores with the ladies because of beer. Gold! Man, I&nbsp;should work in advertising...</p><p><strong>B story</strong>: So <a href="http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2011/03/28/red-light-shutters-jerry-kleiner-spending-more-time-in-la-is-this-the-end-of-kdk.php">Jerry Kleiner is just folding up shop and moving on</a>? How will we live without his colorfully striped rayon shirts?&nbsp;</p><p>The restaurant magnet that helmed KDK&nbsp;group for years and brought high-concept dining to the forefront in&nbsp;Chicago has run into tax problems. Giocco in the South Loop closed last week because they weren't paying select taxes. And then&nbsp;Red Light in the West Loop was closed for operating without a liquor license, which was not renewed. Throw in the closing of Marche in the fall and KDK&nbsp;is in a free fall. Kleiner is interesting because he made fine dining hot without star chefs. Today, he has to compete with the Izards and the Achatz of the world. It's a sad ending to a very instrumental time in Chicago's culinary scene. It seems to be kind of a chaotic mess, but I guess that's how restaurants do it: Burn bright and flame out. They rarely tell you they are closing, or do a liquidation sale for two months like Borders.</p><p>But here's the thing, Jerry: Haven't you learned <em>anything</em> about running a business in&nbsp;Illinois? When you don't want to pay taxes, don't close up shop. Just threaten to leave the state. In other words, pull a &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/28/illinois-ceo-warns-he-may_n_841360.html">Caterpillar</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>C story:</strong><a href="http://www.bettergov.org/red-light_cameras_ticket_cta_bus_drivers_but_taxpayers_charged/"> The Better Government Association and Fox Chicago did an investigation into CTA buses and red light camera tickets</a>. It turns out that a tremendous amount of those tickets are slapped on cars and buses with M&nbsp;plates, not to mention CTA&nbsp;buses. But do the CTA&nbsp;bus drivers pay? Nope, CTA&nbsp;does - $227,000 since 2006. That means it gets passed on to taxpayers and riders in the forms of more federal/state funding and fare hikes. So the next time you want that bus to get through that yellow light so you can get home faster, remember it will probably cost you about $4&nbsp; - maybe even more if the bus isn't packed.</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: Still unseasonably cold. Although my iPhone tells me we might hit the 50s by Sunday.</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: Okay fine, you got us, Blackhawks. We'll start paying attention now. The Blackhawks were on the verge of playing golf this April. They lost some key games down the stretch and were watching from the bottom of the playoff brackets. Last night, they gave Chicago a taste why they won the Stanley Cup <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/ct-spt-0329-blackhawks-red-wings-chic20110328,0,122662.story">with a 3-2 OT&nbsp;win over the Red Wings in Detroit</a>. Will this be the game that wakes up the Hawks? Come on Hawks, we need a playoff run! We want mass hysteria in the West Loop for both the Hawks <em>and</em> the Bulls. For a while there, it looked like we might get it - but the Hawks need to hold up their end of the bargain. So let's put our rally caps on and hope the Hawks pull a UCONN&nbsp;and win 9 or so in a row. Think of the local economy, fellas.&nbsp; A good strong surge? And those t-shirt/hat shops on Michigan Avenue (just south of Wacker) can stay in business.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Kicker</strong>: Mission Amy KR never ceases to amaze me. Another great mission last week, where Amy Krouse Rosenthal asked her readers to send in pictures to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/mission-amy-kr/2011-03-28/mission-66-send-save-suggest-84383">show solidarity and support for the Japanese people</a>. You did. And she put together this great slideshow:</p><p><iframe height="311" frameborder="0" width="500" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/p_r4HSuTUwE" title="YouTube video player"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-29/so-bud-bought-goose-island-look-bright-side-we-might-see-some-hilari Actors Equity invests in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/557-w-randolph/actors-equity-invests-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-01/AEA-Lonergan-Library.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Actors Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, cut the ribbon Monday night on the new Chicago headquarters for its 13-state Central Region.</p><p>As Shakespeare observed, &quot;What's past is prologue,&quot; and so it is with Equity's new HQ, an historic West Loop survivor of The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The building at 557 W. Randolph Street dates from 1855 and originally housed a wholesale flour dealer. Equity has had several different downtown addresses over the years, so a move to different digs isn't itself newsworthy. But this time the union owns the building, the only bricks and mortar Equity owns anywhere, including New York City where the union's national offices are located.</p><p>The four-story, 22,000 square foot building was purchased late in 2008 after the economic bust and has been undergoing a gut renovation since then. Kathryn V. Lamkey, Central Regional Director, explained that Equity found &quot;a motivated seller. We were a buyer who could pay cash. We didn't have to take a mortgage.&quot; She continued, &quot;It was a good long-term investment for any monies we had in reserve&quot; at a time when rates of return on bonds, CD's and money market funds had collapsed.</p><p>Equity itself will occupy most of the building with offices, a members' service center, the Lonergan library and audition rooms although some office space is available for rent. Founded in 1913, Actors Equity Association has 49,000 members nationwide heavily clustered in New York and Los Angeles. The entire Central Region has 4,600 members of whom about 1,500 live in Chicago. With fewer than 10% of the membership, the Central Region nonetheless accounts year after year for more than 14% of the union's total workweeks nationwide.</p><p>In Chicago alone, 58 theaters operate on Equity contracts which cover everything from Broadway shows at the big Loop theaters to small storefront playhouses in the neighborhoods. The most lucrative contract is the Production Contract covering cast members and stage managers in Broadway shows, but the most important contract to Chicago is the Chicago Area Theatre &quot;CAT&quot; contract which covers the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Writers' Theatre, Next Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre and several dozen smaller companies. In a good year, the CAT houses will chalk up over 6,000 work weeks.</p><p>First negotiated in the early 1980's, the highly flexible CAT contract has had a substantial impact on the growth and development of professional theater in Chicago, and has been used as the model for similar contracts nationwide.</p></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 19:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/557-w-randolph/actors-equity-invests-chicago