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Archive for the ‘Chicago-esque’ Category

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Chicago Avenue Bridge is For Sale

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Chicago Avenue Bridge For Sale
Chicago Avenue Bridge For Sale

The funny thing is that this isn’t a joke! 

Loop North News reports:

 According to a public notice on the city’s website, the Chicago Avenue Bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River is available to anyone who will remove it at their expense, maintain it, and assume all financial responsibility.

 Otherwise, the bridge is expected to be demolished so that a non-movable concrete and steel bridge can be built.

The city is asking interested parties to send a letter by July 13 detailing means of funding, how the bridge will be moved, how quickly it will be moved, and where it will be moved to.

The current bridge at Chicago Avenue, a pony truss bascule bridge, opened to traffic in 1912, replacing a swing bridge that had been there since 1849. It was one of the first of the Chicago River bridges to have an operator house made of concrete and not wood. According to a 1911 report by Chicago Department of Public Works, the city intended to eventually build a subway under Chicago Avenue, and so the Chicago Avenue Bridge was specially designed to accommodate future construction of a double subway tunnel.

Today, with its rusted surfaces, broken lights, and loose wire, the bridge has suffered from lack of regular maintenance, according to Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.

 

 

(click here to continue reading City offers Chicago Avenue Bridge free to good home – Loop North News.)

A shame that something engineered so well it lasted over 100 years is going to be discarded because the City has other priorities. 

Oxidized Infrastructure
Oxidized Infrastructure

Chicago Avenue Bridge
Chicago Avenue Bridge

The Days Fell On Their Knees
The Days Fell On Their Knees

Easier To Think
Easier To Think

Carter H Harrison Mayor marker  Chicago Avenue Bridge
Carter H Harrison Mayor marker – Chicago Avenue Bridge (I think. Maybe Grand Ave?)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 19th, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with , ,

Aon Center makeover treats big banal skyscraper with respect

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BP Amoco is not greener than me
Aon building

The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin reports:

Now Aon’s owner, the New York-based firm of 601W Cos., wants to take advantage of the neighborhood’s newfound popularity with a new observatory that would compete with existing ones at Willis Tower and 875 N. Michigan. But there’s no room inside Aon for an elevator leading to the aerie, so 601W charged Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz with putting one on the outside.

Crafted by principal Martin Wolf, SCB’s plan starts with a wedge-shaped, metal-and-glass entry pavilion that would rise on the southeast corner of Aon Center’s plaza — an appropriately simple form for this simple building. Descending on escalators to below-street passageways, visitors would wend their way to the elevator tower. City officials wisely insisted that the tower rise on the building’s northwest corner (and not on the southeast corner, as originally planned) so it would not disturb the clean lines of Aon’s park-facing side.

If you’re an acrophobe, the high-speed double-deck elevators that shoot up and down the tower won’t be for you. But for those who get a kick out of seeing a city from on high, the elevators could be the ultimate version of those glass-covered cabs that enlivened the hotels of the late Atlanta architect and developer John Portman. Portman’s genius was to make an elevator ride an event, not just a trip in a box.

While the elevator tower will be visible from Michigan Avenue, it promises to be a light and lacy presence rather than a mechanical eyesore. It might even be exciting at night as the cabs of its double-deck elevators create trails of light like comet tails, said Phil Hettema of Pasadena, Calif., the designer of the still-unnamed observatory and the spaces leading to it. The two-level observatory would occupy space above the building’s office floors that was originally devoted to cooling towers.

For those willing to pay more than the price of admission, an internal elevator would transport them from the observatory to the thrill ride, a mechanical-lift contraption called the Sky Summit. Its steel arms would lift a glass-sheathed cab with room for about 20 people nearly 30 feet above the roof, then lower the cab over Aon’s edge, holding it there for about 30 seconds as the floor changed from opaque to transparent to reveal views of Millennium Park far below. Next, the cab would bring everybody back to Aon’s rooftop, presumably glad to be alive. The engineers assure me it’s a tried-and-true system. (Pass the Valium.)

(click here to continue reading Aon Center makeover treats big banal skyscraper with respect. But about that thrill ride … – Chicago Tribune.)

I’m looking forward to riding this.

Aon Infrared
Aon Infrared

Written by Seth Anderson

May 15th, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Arts,Chicago-esque

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Steve Dolinsky Is Hosting Tours of Chicago’s Best Pizza

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Culicchia  Co
Culicchia & Co, West Loop

Anthony Todd reports:

As with many great things, Pizza City USA Tours were born out of a combination of love and frustration. “I was super annoyed reading yet another listicle online of the 7 hottest pizza places in Chicago,” explained founder (and Chicago food superstar) Steve Dolinsky. “And I had been to one of them that week and thought, this makes no sense.” Dolinsky, who you probably know as ABC7’s Hungry Hound, was startled to find that no one had done a really-for-real deep dive into Chicago pizza. So, he started eating.

185 pizza places (and some acid reflux and a lot of yoga) later, Dolinsky is, likely, the most comprehensive expert on Chicago pizza in the world. “In January and February of 17, I started on this major quest, doing 3 a day,” Dolinsky remembered.  “People talk about ‘3-a-days’ as if it were a workout, but mine were pizza!” The result: a new book coming in September called Pizza City USA: 101 Reasons Chicago is America’s Greatest Pizza Town. If you can’t wait that long (and want to eat pizza yourself), Dolinsky has also started his own tour company.

Be warned, though: this might not be what you think of as “Chicago Pizza.”

“Chicago is really a city of thin crust,” insisted Dolinsky. “My analogy: deep dish is to Chicago what Times Square is to New York.  It’s a thing for tourists, locals could really care less.” Most of the pizzas he’s covering in the book and on the tours are from a variety of non-deep dish styles, including tavern-style, Detroit-style, Neapolitan and Roman. A tour will visit places with different styles; for example, one of his bus tours will visit Labriola on Michigan Avenue for deep dish, Pizzeria Bebu for an artisan pie, Pat’s for a tavern-style pizza and Dante’s for a New York-style slice.

(click here to continue reading Steve Dolinsky Is Hosting Tours of Chicago’s Best Pizza | Chicago magazine | Dining & Drinking May 2018.)

I love this Steve Dolinsky quote.

I’ll dial his sentiment back a bit, I’ve eaten good deep dish pizzas over my lifetime. That said, the best pizza I’ve had in Chicago is always thin crust.

YRMV.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 6th, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque,Food and Drink

Tagged with ,

Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed

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Slated for Destruction
Slated for Destruction

Curbed Chicago reports:

As presented, the 680-foot skyscraper would deliver 370 rental apartments, a 165-room hotel, and an Equinox fitness club. Related Midwest’s owner Related Cos. acquired the Equinox brand in 2006 and plans to build as many as 75 fitness-oriented hotel projects.

Concealed on-site parking for 150 vehicles comes via an interior motorcourt accessible from the Randolph frontage road and the existing Court Place curb cut on Halsted. The development can provide additional vehicular capacity with a valet service. All commercial loading will take place off the street and within the envelope of the new building.

The project is seeking a zoning change in the form of amending an existing Residential-Business Planned Development at the site. It takes over an older, unbuilt plan from a different developer that had called for a 370-foot tower with 220 residential units atop a prominent 260-space parking garage.

Related acquired the stalled development site in 2016 and demolished the existing dilapidated buildings that fall. The current proposal grew its L-shaped footprint through the addition of an adjacent parcel and achieved greater density with a 2017 transfer of air rights from the neighboring Haymarket Brewery.

(click here to continue reading Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed as West Loop ‘gateway’ – Curbed Chicago.)

Oh boy, more traffic in an area that can’t handle the traffic it has already, and that’s before all these new constructions finish…

58 story hotel and residential
58 story hotel and residential

Written by Seth Anderson

May 6th, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

Illinois Condo Law Update Might Be Un-Updated

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Little Boxes
Little Boxes

Lawmakers who wrote this bill must all live in houses and townhomes: not in condo buildings. Every building has some percentage of malcontents, and who wants to be deluged with complaints from those who never offer solutions, only problems? Especially in condominiums where the Board is an unpaid, volunteer position.

It’s the part about “telephone numbers and email addresses” that is causing a ruckus, and the ruckus has taken lawmakers by surprise.

Gene Fisher is the executive director of the Diversey Harbor Lakeview Association, a coalition of elected leaders from north lakefront condominium associations. Board members are concerned that publication of their personal contact information will exacerbate harassment from dissatisfied owners, he said.

“As one of our members put it, ‘Every building has some hostile occupants. What board member wants to get repetitive crank calls from owners who do nothing but complain, or have their email filled with crank messages?’” he said.

Such egregious behaviors could discourage qualified and responsible owners from serving on their association boards, he added.

“Many owners are very protective of their personal information,” said Derek Wilkinson, vice president at Associa Chicagoland, a management company. “They do not want every person in their association to have easy access to their personal contact information. There is no ability to opt out of this information sharing, so many owners and board members are feeling powerless.”

Some owners have said they will delete their email accounts, said Timothy Patricio, property manager at Park Tower Condominium Association in Chicago.

(click here to continue reading Amendment to Illinois condo law sparks outcry, leaves owners and board members ‘feeling powerless’ – Chicago Tribune.)

In Chicago at least, there has been serious talk of an ordinance that will supersede this law. Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward1 and his colleague Brian Hopkins of the 2nd Ward introduced Amendment of Municipal Code Section 13-72-080 concerning requirements for examination of condominium association records by unit owners (PDF)

Can t Get Out of Here
Can’t Get Out of Here

Howard Dakoff recently wrote:

 

On Jan. 17, 2018, Hopkins and Reilly did introduce a Chicago ordinance that would prohibit Chicago unit owners (other than board members) from obtaining a list of unit owners’ email addresses and phone numbers among other personal information. The ordinance goes even further and allows a condominium association to opt out of other mandated Section 19 disclosure requirements with a two-thirds vote of the unit owners.

 

The ordinance is in direct contradiction to the provisions of Section 19, and while the aldermen believe the city of Chicago possesses the authority to do so under a legal doctrine called “home rule” (where a municipality has the authority to adopt its own legislation that might even be contrary to other applicable statutes), the proposed ordinance is quite aggressive in its breadth. There is disagreement among attorneys as to whether the ordinance can outright nullify mandated provisions of Section 19.

 

If the ordinance is adopted, it is likely there will be litigation to follow for a judicial determination regarding whether the ordinance can accomplish its objectives.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Aldermen introduce ordinance to strike down controversial part of Illinois condo law – Chicago Tribune.)

I guess if I had to provide email/phone, I could use a Google Voice account, and create a “burner” email, but the process seems ridiculous. I hope either the Chicago ordinance is passed soon, or the IL legislature revises the underlying law. Or both could happen: Chicago passes the Reilly/Hopkins ordinance, and then eventually the entire state follows suit at some later time.

Footnotes:
  1. the best Ward!! []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2018 at 9:48 am

Massive Central Furniture Mart Sign Dangerously Low

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Central Furniture Mart
Central Furniture Mart in better times

Alisa Hauser reports:

WICKER PARK — The neon Central Furniture Mart hung dangerously low to the sidewalk late Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured and the street surrounding the sign was closed to pedestrians and car traffic as contractors eventually hauled the sign away. Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, said that fire workers responded to a call of a “dangerous sign” at 11:52 a.m. Tuesday. There were no injuries, Merritt said.

Candise Cho, owner of neighboring Mildblend Supply Co., said that she has “always been concerned about the safety of pedestrians.”

“I know I find myself taking a deep breath each time I walk under it. I had hoped with new owners, it would have been taken down or better secured,” Cho said.

Cho said she did not call 911, but when she looked outside her store shortly before 12 p.m. when officials were on the scene, the sign was “much lower” than it had been in the past.

“It was very low. It had dropped,” Cho said.

(click here to continue reading Massive Central Furniture Mart Sign Hung Dangerously Low, Witnesses Say.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2018 at 9:12 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

Cook County Voters Give Firm Yes on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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Non binding referendum still progress
Non binding referendum, still, progress

Legalize Marijuana Cook County
Legalize Marijuana: Cook County

Cook County’s 2018 primary ballot contained a non-binding referendum to legalize marijuana statewide. Of course, as you’d expect, it passed. By a greater than 2 to 1 margin.

Cook County voters on Tuesday voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois, according to unofficial results.

County commissioners voted unanimously last December to put the question on the primary ballot. The state Senate earlier this month passed a measure to put the question on ballots for statewide voters in November, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The full question on primary election ballots read as follows: “Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Supporters of legalization point to the increased tax revenue that has come with legalization, taxation and regulation in other states. Opponents often have concerns about social costs and the fact that marijuana use would remain illegal under federal law.

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and California. All but Vermont passed the laws in binding ballot questions between 2012 and 2016.

(click here to continue reading Cook County Voters Give Firm Answer on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana – NBC Chicago.)

Somehow CO, WA, AK, NV, OR, MA, ME, VT, and CA don’t seem like they are turning into chaotic, failed states. In fact, these states are all doing pretty well all things considered.

JB Pritzker Wants to legalize and tax marijuana
JB Pritzker Wants to legalize and tax marijuana

Oh, and the winner of the Democratic primary for Governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, sent flyers announcing his position last week. Interesting. The current witless doofus occupying the governor’s mansion, Bruce Rauner, is very tepid, at best, in support for cannabis reform: he didn’t want medical marijuana either.

Tina Sfondeles wrote, back in December, 2017:

Gov. Bruce Rauner is taking a blunt stance, telling a Downstate TV station that it would be a “mistake” to legalize marijuana in Illinois.

The Republican governor has, in the past, said he wants more studies on the “ramifications” in states that have legalized the drug. On Wednesday, he took it further.

“I do not support legalizing marijuana. I think that’s a mistake. You know there’s a massive, human experiment going on in Colorado, and California, other places. We should see how that’s impacted lives and addiction and hurt young people before we make any decision about it here,” Rauner said in an interview on WSIL in Marion. “I do not support legalizing marijuana.”

In April, the governor called recreational marijuana “a very, very difficult subject.” He said he wouldn’t support legalizing marijuana unless there’s a study of the “ramifications” in states that have legalized the drug.

(click here to continue reading Gov. Rauner not high on legalizing marijuana: ‘That’s a mistake’ | Chicago Sun-Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 21st, 2018 at 7:37 am

Archive of Studs Terkel Radio Shows to Be Released to Public

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Zenith Phono Radio
Zenith Phono & Radio.

Excited to hear more of these:

More than 5,600 of Studs Terkel’s radio interview programs on the Chicago station WFMT will be released to the public.

The Studs Terkel Radio Archive will launch May 16, the 106th birthday of the late author, activist and oral historian. Terkel died in 2008 at age 96. The archive will be available on studsterkel.org.

For 45 years — 1952 to 1997 — the legendary Terkel elevated oral history to a popular genre by interviewing both the celebrated and everyday people for books and on WFMT. Among the radio interviews to be released are those with Martin Luther King Jr., Simone de Beauvoir, Bob Dylan, Cesar Chavez and Toni Morrison.

(click here to continue reading Archive of Studs Terkel Radio Shows to Be Released to Public – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 17th, 2018 at 11:04 am

Artist Anish Kapoor disgusted that The Bean appears in NRA ad

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Contemplation of the Winter Bean
Contemplation of the Winter Bean

As are many urban dwellers, especially those who live in and around Chicago, and who aren’t afraid of walking down the street. No matter what you might have heard, walking down the street in an American city like Chicago isn’t akin to being in a war zone. It just isn’t.

The artist who made Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate says he is “disgusted” that the National Rifle Association used video of the Millennium Park sculpture in a political advertisement that he said “seeks to whip up fear and hate.

Anish Kapoor — the Indian-born, British sculptor responsible for the work colloquially known as The Bean — said the 2017 ad titled “The Clenched Fist of Truth” and starring NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch used footage of the sculpture without his consent “by the NRA to promote their vile message.”

The sculpture was used as a stand-in for former President Barack Obama in the ad, which was widely criticized at the time of its release in April. The ad paints a nightmarish vision of modern city life and states that “the only way to save our country, the only way to fight this violence of lies is with the clenched fist of truth.”

In a statement issued by a New York gallery 1 that represents him, Kapoor also said that his sculpture and other works of iconic modern architecture were used by the NRA in the ad to represent a hidden and threatening “other,” or a version of “Liberal America” against which NRA members need to arm themselves.

While tourists are free to photograph the sculpture, Kapoor owns the copyright to commercial images of Cloud Gate and did not give the NRA permission to use it, he wrote.

(click here to continue reading Artist Anish Kapoor ‘disgusted’ that The Bean appears in NRA ad – Chicago Tribune.)

I’m not linking to the NRA’s hate site, but you can find the video if you search for it. I’d rather post a few more photos of Cloud Gate… ((taken as a tourist, naturally)) 

Cleaning Cloud Gate
Cleaning Cloud Gate

Sometimes I am a Tourist
Sometimes I am a Tourist

Millennium abstraction
millennium abstraction

Smiley Face Snow Bean
Smiley Face Snow Bean

Shiny objects
Shiny objects

Urban Bubble
Urban Bubble

Bean and Ice
Bean and Ice

Footnotes:
  1. presumedly Lisson Gallery []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 12th, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Arts,Chicago-esque,politics

Tagged with ,

WBEZ Maybe To Aquire Assets of Chicagoist

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Caught Out In Daylight  Copper Blue
Caught Out In Daylight – Copper Blue

This could be interesting. Hope it happens. There was a golden era of Chicago area blogs that ended before the Ricketts purchased, then dismantled the Chicagoist and DNAInfo sites, I doubt that will occur again, but ya never know…

Chicagoist, one of the online news sites that were shut down when billionaire Joe Ricketts killed DNAinfo last year, may be acquired by Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5. Public media stations in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., recently picked up the assets of Gothamist, LAist and DCist from Ricketts. Now WBEZ has been approached by WNYC about acquiring Chicagoist, including domain names, social media assets and archives. “Given WBEZ’s commitment to local journalism, as well as admiration for the work of these former outlets, WBEZ is actively exploring this possibility and determining how these assets might be used most effectively in keeping with the organization’s mission to serve the Chicago community,” Steve Edwards, vice president and chief content officer for Chicago Public Media, said in a statement.

(click here to continue reading Robservations: Jenny Milkowski to host afternoons on WSHE – Robert Feder.)

 Radio Silence
Radio Silence

From WYNC’s press release:

 

Leaders in public media—WNYC (New York), KPCC (Southern California),and WAMU (Washington, D.C.)—today announced they have joined together to acquire key assets of Gothamist and its associated sites: LAist and DCist. The acquisition includes the story archives, internet domains, and social media assets from Gothamist and DNAinfo. This deal is part of public radio’s commitment to local journalism and honors the legacy and shared mission of Gothamist, as well as DNAinfo, the trusted neighborhood news service founded by Joe Ricketts.

 

Each public media organization involved in the investment is a leading source of enterprise journalism and local reporting in their respective communities. The assets acquired will enable the stations to expand their digital footprint and support their shared missions to reflect and serve their listeners and the public.

 

The acquisition is being funded in large part through generous philanthropic donations from two anonymous donors, who are deeply committed to supporting local journalism initiatives and the station partners.

 

 

(click here to continue reading WNYC, KPCC, and WAMU Acquire Gothamist Assets.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque,News-esque

Tagged with

Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings

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225 W Randolph St
225 W Randolph St is owned by Kushner Co’s.

Speaking of the dimpled slumlord, Jared Kushner, apparently he is his father-in-law’s favorite for a reason: corruption comes as easily as breathing…

Early last year, a private equity billionaire started paying regular visits to the White House.

Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo Global Management, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy. During that period, he met on multiple occasions with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said three people familiar with the meetings. Among other things, the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris.

The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies. The loan was to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.

It was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received last year. An even larger loan came from Citigroup, which lent the firm and one of its partners $325 million to help finance a group of office buildings in Brooklyn.

(click here to continue reading Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings – The New York Times.)

For the record, I walked by 225 W. Randolph today, currently the regional headquarters of AT&T, leased from Kushner, and the building looked pretty run-down from the outside.

Slightly Run Down Entrance to 225 W Randolph
Slightly Run Down Entrance to 225 W Randolph

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post adds:

 

“Kushner represents a total failure in every possible dimension,” says ethics guru Norm Eisen. “His appointment was a violation of the federal anti-nepotism statute. We now know that he has the worst ethics and conflicts issues of anyone in the administration with the possible exception of his father-in-law. He could not even fill out his financial disclosures and security clearance forms properly, with dozens of amendments being required.” He adds, “His contacts with the Russians and other foreign governments are deeply problematic. His security clearance has been downgraded to the level of a White House intern, making it impossible for him to do the jobs for which he is purportedly there. He must go before he does any more damage.”

 

News this week that Kushner received jumbo loans from two banks after meeting with Citigroup and Apollo Global Management highlights the risk he poses. How many other suspect meetings have been taken? What ones are planned? Kushner apparently has no appreciation for the appearance of conflicts of interest, let alone actual conflicts. Because he is so heavily indebted and still operates his real estate company, we cannot be sure whether performance of his White House duties are for his own benefit or the country’s. If he meets with a bank executive, or representatives of one of the four countries attempting to influence there is at the very least the appearance of corruption. And because Kushner’s portfolio is so broad it seems unlikely he wouldn’t inevitably make some decision that affects his own financial interests and/or those of his lenders.

 

All of this goes to the legal and ethical implications of his continued presence in the White House. However, the political ramifications are nearly as bad, It’s now painfully obvious he is there solely by nepotism and that the president knew or should have known about the security risks and conflicts Kushner brought with him. To allow him to remain simply reaffirms the president’s comfort level with ethical malfeasance. Just as keeping Rob Porter for so long signaled the White House really didn’t think spousal abuse was that big a deal, Trump’s retention of Kushner suggests that the president doesn’t much care if his inner circle is beholden to foreigners.

 

 

(click here to continue reading The Jared time bomb – The Washington Post.)

Don t Say I Never Warned You
Don’t Say I Never Warned You

From NBC:

 Federal investigators are scrutinizing whether any of Jared Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with, according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses who have been interviewed as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 election.

Kushner’s family real estate business, Kushner Companies, approached Qatar multiple times, including last spring, about investing in the company’s troubled flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York, but the government-run sovereign wealth fund declined, according to two people familiar with the discussion. Another discussion of interest to Mueller’s team is a meeting Kushner held at Trump Tower during the transition in December 2016 with a former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, or HBJ, according to people familiar with the meeting.

HBJ had been in talks with Kushner Companies about investing in its Fifth Avenue property, which is facing roughly $1.4 billion in debt that is due in 2019, these people said. Those talks with the company continued after Kushner entered the White House and stepped away from the business, but last spring HBJ decided against investing, these people said.

In the weeks after Kushner Companies’ talks with the Qatari government and HBJ collapsed, the White House strongly backed an economically punishing blockade against Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, citing the country’s support for terrorism as the impetus. Kushner, who is both President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a key adviser, has played a major role in Trump’s Middle East policy and has developed close relationships with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

 Some top Qatari government officials believe the White House’s position on the blockade may have been a form of retaliation driven by Kushner who was sour about the failed deal.

 

(click here to continue reading Mueller team asking if Kushner foreign business ties influenced Trump policy – NBC News.)

Trump Eventually We Will Get Something Done
Trump: Eventually We Will Get Something Done

From Newsweek:

 

New York’s banking regulator has reportedly requested loan information about Jared Kushner, his family and real estate business Kushner Companies, from three banks including Deutsche Bank AG, which is steeped in another controversy involving the presidential adviser.

 

New York State’s Department of Financial Services last week sent letters to Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank requesting loan applications and processes, and information about the institutions’ relationships with Kushner and his business assets, a person familiar with the correspondence told Bloomberg in a report published Wednesday.

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, took on more debt over the past year from lenders including Signature Bank and New York Community Bank, recent government disclosures show. The couple had unsecured lines of credit of $5 million to $25 million from each of the three banks, according to a disclosures filing from late December.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Jared Kushner’s Loans From Deutsche Bank, Other Lenders Sought by Banking Regulator: Report.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 2nd, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Mueller, Manafort and Federal Savings Bank

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Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank
Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Follow up on the local FSB bank in Fulton Market we wrote about a few months ago…

Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.

The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the millions he had earned working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine drew media scrutiny. Calk did not receive a job in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The sources say the three loans were questioned by other officials at the bank, and one source said that at least one of the bank employees who felt pressured into approving the deals is cooperating with investigators.

(click here to continue reading Mueller asking if Manafort promised banker White House job in return for loans – NBC News.)

The Federal Savings Bank
The Federal Savings Bank

Bloomberg adds:

 

The Federal Savings Bank, where Calk is founder, chairman and chief executive officer, also got a “seven-figure” investment from a firm run by one of Trump’s closest friends, Howard Lorber, according to court testimony not previously reported.

Lorber is CEO of the Vector Group, parent company of the New York real estate powerhouse, Douglas Elliman Real Estate LLC. Last year, Trump described Lorber, who is also chairman of Douglas Elliman, as one of his two best friends. In 1996, Trump and Lorber were together in Moscow exploring business opportunities, accompanied by Bennett LeBow, the Vector Group’s founder and chairman.

 

Bennett LeBow in 1998Photographer: Chuck Robinson/AP Images LeBow is a longtime player in both the cigarette and real estate industries in Russia and Ukraine. Among his former business partners is Vadim Z. Rabinovich, a Ukrainian politician who was elected to parliament in 2014 as part of the pro-Russia party that employed Manafort before he signed onto Trump’s campaign.

 

The Vector Group made a “seven-figure” investment in Calk’s bank, according to a 2015 deposition by Calk; Lorber in a 2015 deposition put the figure at $2 million, though he wasn’t sure if the investment was made by Vector or Douglas Elliman. Neither of the men said when the investment was made.

Calk was little known in political circles, even in Chicago. He built a mortgage business in Kansas with his brother John by focusing on military veterans. He moved the bank’s headquarters to Chicago in 2014 after being promised millions in grants and tax credits from the city.

According to a 2016 article in the trade publication, National Mortgage News, about 90 percent of the bank’s lending at the time was directed toward single-family home purchases, most through the Veterans Administration.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Behind Manafort’s Loans, a Chopper Pilot Who Flew Into Trump’s Orbit – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:47 am

Plan for 51-story at 110 N Wacker Drive tower hits obstacle

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General Growth - Chicago River
General Growth – Chicago River

I’ve walked past 110 N Wacker Drive, aka the General Growth Properties building, f/k/a the Morton Salt Building hundreds or even thousands of times, and I can’t say I was ever flabbergasted by its beauty.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

A planned 51-story tower on Wacker Drive has run into an unexpected obstacle that could halt the high-profile office development: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal agency has informed the developers, Chicago’s Riverside Investment & Development and Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp., that the project will have an “adverse effect,” since the plan requires demolishing an architecturally significant building along the Chicago River.

The five-story building on the site at 110 N. Wacker Drive, currently the headquarters of mall landlord GGP, is not landmarked but is eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a public notice by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Because of that, the agency’s Chicago District will solicit public input through Dec. 14 about the planned demolition before determining the development’s fate.

The highly unusual snag comes just before the developers were expected to raze the building and begin replacing it with the 800-foot-tall skyscraper. The developers want to begin construction as soon as January, the public notice said. Plans call for more than 1.3 million square feet of office space, which is expected to command some of the highest office rents in Chicago.

The developers already received city approval for the project designed by Goettsch Partners. But they still need approval from the Army Corps because the project would include building a stormwater outfall structure, which is essentially a hole cut in the seawall to allow rainwater to flow from the tower’s roof into the river.

“The 110 North Wacker building project was the subject of an eight month public process leading to the granting of full zoning approval from the city of Chicago,” the developers said in an emailed statement. “To date, we have worked with the City Planning Department, Alderman (Brendan) Reilly and others to maximize the open public space, and architectural benefits for the city. We have been working through the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other statutory authorities and look forward to working collaboratively to deliver this exciting new building in the heart of Chicago.”

(click here to continue reading Plan for 51-story Wacker Drive tower hits obstacle – Chicago Tribune.)

General Growth - Blues
General Growth – Blues

I’d hazard a guess that demolition will occur early next year…

During a review of the project, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in August determined the building’s architecture makes it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, creating an “adverse effect” if it were to be demolished, according to the public notice.

The building, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, is an example of Mid-Century Modern architecture, according to the documents. The $4 million building opened in 1958 as the headquarters of Morton Salt Co. The building has long turned heads because of its low-slung size, dwarfed by a row of modern Wacker Drive towers.

I was also amused by this:

Curbed Chicago first reported the “adverse effect” federal review.

Would it be so difficult to provide a link? Like, for instance, https://chicago.curbed.com/2017/12/6/16742274/general-growth-demolition-historical-review

Written by Seth Anderson

December 8th, 2017 at 9:28 am

Passing Goldstar (Explored)

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A recent photograph made it into Flickr’s Explore (double click to embiggen).

Passing Goldstar

About the photograph: I was standing near Gold Star on Division St., admiring how afternoon light illuminated this long time resident of Wicker Park, waiting for the first person to enter my shot. However, when I entered my digital darkroom, I noticed the women was partially blurred. Often converting to black and white hides these flaws, I used a Tri-X 400 emulation filter (from Alien Skin), but then was sad about losing the golden hour light. I stopped working on the photo, however in the morning when I woke up, I had a new idea. I could use Photoshop to merge some of the color back in to the photo.

I processed the image again from the original Camera RAW file, using the same settings, except, obviously leaving the afternoon sunlight. With both images open, I used the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop, and with my mouse, dragged over areas that looked like they needed color.

I started with just the neon Goldstar sign, then added the more of the building, then the doorway, then as a last touch, the woman’s feet and the shadow on the sidewalk. I’m not 100% certain if I like that, but I think so. I also could have re-colorized her purse, but it had reds and blues in addition to the golden palette of the rest of the image, so I left it black and white.

I goofed, slightly, when initially using the Clone Stamp tool by not exactly lining up the origin, but this gives the color aspects a subtle three dimensional look, so I left it as it ended up.

All in all, I’m happy with how this image turned out.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 22nd, 2017 at 7:41 am

DNA Chicago Uses My Photo of Casa Aztlan Mural Without Crediting Me

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Casa Aztlan
Casa Aztlan

I realize that I did not paint Ray Patlan’s Casa Aztlan mural, but I did photograph it, and now DNA Chicago and other entities are using my photograph on their website without crediting me. The author of this article is Stephanie Lulay, who I’m sure will rectify the situation, eventually. I imagine this is just an oversight, and not malicious.

For instance, in reporting the news that Ray Patlan’s mural has been painted over, but now the original muralist is willing to come back and re-paint his work:

PILSEN — After an iconic mural was painted over in Pilsen earlier this month, the developer responsible for the change has promised to bring back the mural’s original artist to re-create it.

Workers painted over the mural that adorned the former Casa Aztlan community center facade at 1831 S. Racine Ave., a storied artwork created by artist Ray Patlan and Pilsen students more than 45 years ago. The incident sparked outrage in the neighborhood known for its public art and murals.

(click here to continue reading After Casa Aztlan Mural Painted Over, Artist Will Return To Re-create It – Pilsen – DNAinfo Chicago.)

DNA Chicago uses this photo, credited to Pilsen Allian, and Facebook/Ricardo Gamboa:

DNA Chicago uses my photo without crediting me

Notice the area in red: if you make the photos bigger, you will see a white chair in front of an area being repainted.

During the time I took this photo, and uploaded to Flickr (with Creative Commons license, albeit, “Some Rights Reserved”) I did not use a watermark. Incidents like this one are so common, I started signing all my photos.

One reason this copyright infringement sticks in my craw is that DNAInfo is owned by wealthy businessman Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, owner of the Chicago Cubs, and a noted Donald Trump supporter. If the Ricketts can afford the luxury of owning a major league sports team, you’d think they could be a little more careful with copyright.

No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts
No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

Bonus: a couple more photos of the mural. I’m happy Ray Patlan is coming back to recreate this iconic artwork.

Che Guevara - Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center
Che Guevara – Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center

Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center
Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center

Written by Seth Anderson

July 1st, 2017 at 7:44 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,Photography

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