Chicago Relocation

Sky High Living

September 30, 2013

Filed Under
Blog Author Image
John D’Ambrogio

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath

In 1992  Organ native Bruce Campbell brought a 727 plane not for flight but for shelter.  Currently the wingless aircraft  sits on Campbell’s 10 acre property as he transforms it into a habitable space.  Why?  Well as the airplane industry ages, more and more planes are retired from flight leaving literal tons of metal, carpet, glass, plastic, and rubber to sit and decay.  Campbell wanted to do something about that.

He’s not alone.  People are stripping apart retired panes and remodeling the leftover parts for furniture, novelty items, etc.  The most noteworthy projects are the ones that keep the plane’s skeleton, such as Campbell’s project.  Other skeleton examples include a plane boat capable of floating down a river, a restaurant where you can enjoy a romantic dinner in the cockpit, or a hotel where you can sleep in the canopy of the jungle.

Before you start to feel claustrophobic thinking of dining in the narrow, confined space of a plane take a look at this hotel.  The Coste Verde hotel in Costa Rica’s 727 Fuselage Home is a stunning example of luxurious, and spacious, plane living.  The lofted plane’s orange and white exterior is kept in tact as it sits high among the trees, wheels down ready to land.  The interior of the plane is floor to ceiling wood, highlighted by natural light from the rows of windows.  The two side balconies over each wing provide additional outdoor living space.  Yes it is a small, but when designed right  these planes are very livable.

There’s talk of entire renovated plane subdivisions.  Slightly Jetsons-like if you will.  The main problem is finding space for such a complex.  But if the right combination of land and developers are found the potential is there.  Who knows, maybe this is the next wave of housing trends.




September 23, 2013

Filed Under
Blog Author Image
John D’Ambrogio

Continuing our talk on the South Loop let’s return to Printer’s Row.  Not only is it probably the most recognized district in South Loop, Printer’s Row has a pretty descriptive and literal name. The few blocks that make up Printer’s Row (Clark/Dearbron, just south of Congress) were home to many of the major printing houses of the 20th century. While things have changed you can still pay homage to it’s roots at the annual book fair (no surprise) each summer.

Need a bite? The famous Hackney’s has a south loop location. Try the inside out cheeseburger (and don’t get burned by the molten cheddar coming out).   I recently found another great eatery hideaway.  My traveling partner and Groupon-girlfriend Gerry and I found a little hole in the wall on Polk.  Appropriately named Polk Street Pub this establishment is located next to a place that would have fit in during South Loop’s “Levee” days.  ‘Nough said.  And their “pastor” burger – well “fogettaboutit” as they say.  Medium rare with blue cheese, bacon, a perfectly poached egg (and I threw on a chorizo finger)…WOW. I walked in the back and personally thanked the cook.

For a top notch cut of beef the place to go is an old rehabbed firehouse, curiously called The Firehouse.  They have some fantastic steaks and great al fresco dining in the summer. Other notable mentions: Giocio, Scout, Waffles Chicago.  There’s really a little bit of everything out here.

One of my favorite “secret” places in the South Loop is Chess Records. If you’ve never heard of Chess Records, shame on you :) This nondescript little building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. (also knows as Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven) is where Etta James recorded “At Last,” and was the home base for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor – the royalty of “Chicago Blues.” If these names don’t ring a bell, go directly to iTunes and buy some of their music. NOW.

Chicago had/has an incredible blues scene playing the Chicago Blues – Not to be confused with their southern cousins Memphis Blues, Texas Blues, and of course the Delta Blues.  Chess Records was so influential to twenty-year-old Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that those blues fans actually came here to record “Satisfaction” in June ‘64.  So if the Rolling Stones think the South Loop is cool…then check it out.

For some authentic South Loop blues, visit Buddy Guy’s at Balbo and Wabash.  I ran into Buddy in the bar there once, some years back. A regular guy.  Just havin’ a drink.

And while being uber-urban, it doesn’t mean south loop is not green. Michigan Ave. makes up the east border of the neighborhood so you’re never more than a quick walk to Grant Park, our city’s front yard.  Bike trails, Lake Michigan, Northerly Island, Museum Campus…WOW, I live in a pretty captivating neighborhood.

Not able to check out all this greatness in person?  Turn to Hollywood.  The opening credits to Hill Street Blues and see the old shot of the South Loop cop shop.  And of rouse I have to include The Blues Brothers.  In this classic film John Lee Hooker belts out “Boom Boom” on Maxwell Street which is just a quick walk from the South Loop.  If you head there yourself, bring your money and bargaining skills for sure.

While we’re also talking about Maxwell Street, remember that an HISTORIC event started right around the corner?  Right at 558 W. De Koven St.?   Well, it’s the site of the Chicago Fire Department Training Academy.  What else is that a famous site of? Anyone? Anyone? I’ll give you a hint. Mrs. O’Leary used to live there, her cow lived out back….and one windy hot summer night in 1871 Peg Leg Sullivan came by….. 





September 2013 State of the Real Estate Market

September 18, 2013

Blog Author Image
John D’Ambrogio

With summer drawing to a close shares Chicago’s real estate market trends, stats and figures this past August and summarizes this exciting summer market. After this spring the real estate market proved to be an strong seller’s market and it left an exciting terrain. Check it out!


Population Growth in Chicago

September 16, 2013

Blog Author Image
John D’Ambrogio

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath

If you live in the great city of Chicago you now have more neighbors than you did two years ago.

Chicago’s population has seen growth for the second year in a row as more and more people call the Windy City home.  Already the 3rd largest city in the United States, Chicago grew by about 11,500 people between 2010 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The growth points to a turn for the new decade.  Between 2000 and 2010 about 200,000 people flew the coop for other destinations.   And while the growth may be smaller than some other cities – most notably Austin’s population boom– it’s definitely movement in the right direction.

Some are attributing this to a possible generational trend towards a urban youth movement.  Personally I can vouch for that.  Over this past year majority of people around my age who I know have moved or are currently in the process of moving to the city.  Most are initially renters, but they have set their sights on Chicago for the long term.

While it will take more than two years of positive growth (and my personal stamp of truth) to solidify this trend, there is reason to believe Millennials and others will continue to flock to Chicago.  Possibly a continuous upward trend?  Only time will tell, but we will keep any eye on it and report back to you.





Books, The Levee, and a High “Walk Score” – The always evolving South Loop, part I

September 9, 2013

Filed Under
Chicago neighborhoods
Blog Author Image
John D’Ambrogio

So I went for a run through the South Loop, my current stomping grounds.  I live in a loft in a very cool part of the South Loop known as Printer’s Row.  Yes, Printer’s Row is like a neighborhood within a neighborhood.  As you get to know Chicago you’ll learn that you’re usually standing in two or three neighborhoods in any given moment.  You know, the Lincoln Park/DePaul or Lakeview/Wrigleyville/Boys Town thing.  I think it can kind of depend on your mood and how you want to describe your location.

Anyway, once you’re standing in the South Loop it’s easy to see how it’s much different  it is from many of the hoods in Chicago.  It’s true “urban living.”  Being adjacent to THE Loop it’s literally as close to downtown as you can be. Yes, I’ll say that about the North Loop in a few weeks, but it’s true.  For both.

It’s a neighborhood mixed with high rises and lofts.  25 years ago you might have said warehouses and parking lots.  But much, MUCH has changed.  People realized how great this area is.  You can walk to work.  My walk is 6 minutes, about as long as my run to the lake shore.  South Loop kisses the lake, the loop, Soldier Field, museum campus… it’s simply glorious!  Being right in the thick of it means you truly have access to everything – every major highway that runs downtown; trains and El lines; shopping; dining; nightlife.

Former Mayor Daley moved to the area in ‘93- specifically the Central Station district.  In addition to our mayor, the South Loop has a history of famous (or at least colorful) residents.  It’s home to the 2nd oldest standing Chicago home, the Henry Clarke Home, located at 19th and Wabash (it’s very cool visit I have to say).  Neighborhood residents in the 19th century included William Kimball (of keyboard fame), Marshall Field (no description necessary for Chicagoans), even railroad mogul George Pullman.  

The far south side (as you enter Chinatown at 20th and Michigan) was known as “The Levee.” Back in the day this  was Chicago’s most infamous red light district, created in response to the opportunities provided by The Colombian Exposition.

Boy, wish I could have visited the original Everleigh Club (for research reasons, of course).  Speaking of politics, the area is also known as the home of organized crime in Chicago.  But that story is for another day.  Let’s focus on the happy things!

Let’s chat about the south loop some more….next time!