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Red Line reconstruction: how to get downtown

Starting May 19, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red Line will be closed at all stops from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th/Dan Ryan for five months. The 154-day Red Line South Reconstruction Project will replace the 44-year-old tracks that have begun to deteriorate and reach the end of their useful life. This isn't the first renewal the Chicago train system has seen this year. Just last week the reconstruction of the Wells Street Bridge wrapped up, updating the busiest junction of the CTA 'L' system, which sees over 700 trains pass by each weekday. The CTA has also debuted the 5000-series rail cars and the Ventra payment system.

So what does the Red Line South Reconstruction Project entail? The overhaul will allow the Red Line to travel at faster speeds from 95th/Dan Ryan to Roosevelt, eliminating as much as 20 minutes off a rider's commute. The stations will also be improved, with elevators added at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th stops. The summer project will effectively reconstruct the tracks in what would normally take 4 years if work was only scheduled for the weekends.

The CTA will be providing alternate transportation for south side riders:

  • Free 24-hour shuttle buses to the Garfield Green Line stop from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations and a local, station-to-station shuttle from 63rd to 95th/Dan Ryan. A fifth shuttle will provide express service between the Roosevelt and Cermak-Chinatown stations.
  • Free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at Garfield on the Green Line.
  • 50 cent discounted bus rides on many South Side routes, including all bus routes south of 63rd Street.
  • 24-hour Red Line service as far south as 63rd Street via Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd.
  • Expanded bus service on existing routes

For complete route information visit www.transitchicago.com, or get a calculated route via the free Red Line South Reroute Trip Planner.


2013 Board Retreat kicks off CLA strategic planning

On Wednesday, April 10, 2013 the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) Board of Directors and staff met with Daniel Iacofano and Christopher Beynon of MIG to uncover future opportunities for downtown Chicago.

The morning started with breakfast at the Gensler Chicago headquarters, alongside a review of the current state of the Loop. We talked about key sectors of the Loop including: retail, offices, theatres, education, public realm, arts and culture, residents, transportation, hospitality, and tourism. We established what opportunities the Loop has in each of these sectors, and what challenges it faces. There was passion in the room. Every board member showed dedication to improving the Loop, a plenty of new, exiciting ideas were introduced.

After the roundtable, board members and staff were broken into three groups – economic development, public realm, and marketing -- to discuss those sectors in more detail. Groups of about 10 people brainstormed about projects, programs, and policies that CLA could initiate to address some of the opportunities and challenges we had uncovered that morning.

When we met back together after lunch, we found that the three groups had targeted similar projects. Our mission and objectives for the coming years, though not yet solidified, are definitely becoming clear. As a CLA staff member, I'm excited to have a strategic plan later this year that will give me new opportunites to promote the Loop and our organization.

Exactly what CLA has in store for you, well, you’ll just have to wait to find out! In the meantime, visit our Facebook page for more Board Retreat photos, or help us guide the future of the Loop by filling out this survey with your own ideas: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MFVKCJV.


Sustainable Chicago: 10 eco-friendly accounts to follow on Twitter this Earth Day

It’s no secret that I’m the office environmentalist. So this year for Earth Day, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite local green thought leaders in the Twittersphere. In no particular order...

1. @ChiGreenOffice
The Green Office Challenge is designed to help Chicago businesses and employees improve sustainability in the workplace and beyond. Organizations of all types and sizes are encouraged to sign up.

2. @CCGTGreenTech
The Chicago Center for Green Technology promotes and advances sustainable homes, workplaces and communities. Their LEED Platinum facility is open to the public six days a week.

3. @EarthDayChicago
Tweeting about everything green in Chicago, they're a great resource for Chicago eco-friendly events.

4. @GreenheartShop
Greenheart Shop is Chicago’s only nonprofit eco-friendly, fair trade store. Greenheart supports local, social enterprises and global fair trade partnerships. You can visit their store location or shop online!

5. @LocalFoodsChi
Local Foods Grocer & Distributor is Chicago’s first wholesale distributor and retailer of strictly local foods from the Midwest’s finest farmers.

6. @ZipcarChicago
Chicago’s local Zipcar chapter, located right here in the Loop, tweets about eco-friendliness in the windy city and has some great giveaways (Full disclosure: I won Cubs tickets from Zipcar just a few weeks ago). They’re in @Block37Shops all week -- you can’t miss their truck farm.

7. @TransformGreen
The Delta Institute is a center of innovation that creates market opportunities to achieve environmental sustainability and economic development. In partnership with business, government and local communities, we develop and implement practical solutions to build the regional economy. Also located right here in the Loop.

8. @RXChicago
Since 2009, Rebuilding Exchange has been diverting materials from landfills and making them accessible for reuse through a retail warehouse. They promote sustainable deconstruction practices, provide education and job training programs, and create innovative models for sustainable reuse.

9. @GreenTechChi
Green Tech Chicago is a new blog on the Tribune's Chicago Now site that takes a look into the developing green movement in Chicago and beyond. They’re new to the Twitter scene, so show them some love.

10. @FarmedHere
FarmedHere pioneered commercial vertical farming in Chicago. Their indoor aquaponic and aeroponic growing systems create local produce and local jobs in a sustainable farming environment.

Did you know?

There’s more green in Chicago than the brightly colored river on St. Patrick’s Day. Chicago prides itself on lush landscapes, clean lakefront beaches, and a massive city park district. We’ve even started embracing green rooftops and gardens. In fact, City Hall is home to a 20,300 square foot rooftop garden that improves air quality, conserves energy, reduces stormwater runoff and helps lessen the urban heat island effect. This is just the beginning for Chicago -- stay tuned for more green initiatives coming from the windy city.


Big Ten street banners for sale

Please Note: Big Ten banner sales are now officially over. Thanks to all who purchased!

BIG TEN BANNERS FOR SALE!
Celebrate March Madness by purchasing the banners currently lining Chicago's historic State Street, which welcomed the 2013 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Conference to the city March 14-17.

Banners are on display through March, and will not be shipped until mid-April. Due to weather and general wear, some banners may appear slightly worn, dusty, or have small tears around the edges. Also note, these banners have 3 slits (wind pockets which prevent major rips) down the center.

AVAILABLE BANNERS:
University of Iowa
University of Michigan
Michigan State University
University of Minnesot
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Purdue University
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Big Ten theme banners

PRODUCT INFORMATION:
Type: Double-sided with same logo on each side
Size: 30 inches x 99 inches
Material: 16 oz. vinyl
Printing: 360 x 540 dpi
Made by: Bannerville USA

PRICE:
$50 for 1
$75 for 2
(each additional $25)
*shipping included or available for pickup

TO PURCHASE:
Please call (312) 782-9160 or email emma@chicagoloopalliance.com. Limited quantities of each school available, as well as Big Ten Conference banners.


Drinks in the Loop: Where to kick back with the co-workers

I’ve heard it countless times before: “There’s nowhere to go for drinks in the Loop.”  But after years of “research” I think it’s time to share my results with the people who need it the most – working professionals – because the perfect Loop happy hour oasis is just around the corner from your office and you didn’t even know it!

 

If you want to see and be seen…

The Gage
This place is no secret, so the sooner you get here the better. My favorite place to sit is across from the bar. You get a view of people walking in, but you have a prime location for grabbing another drink. (Tip: There’s also space downstairs.) They’ve got some great aged spirits on their libations menu, but if you’re in the mood to kick back they’ve also got a good selection of seasonal brews. Bonus, the food is outstanding!

More places to be seen: FiliniRiversROOF on theWit

If you want to stay hidden…

Toni Patisserie and Café
A charming café nestled between Millennium Park and the El. It’s new to the wine scene, so it maintains a quiet level of relaxation. Whether you’re ready for an early dinner or just want a few pastries and glass of wine, Toni has you covered. (Tip: They make picnic baskets! Perfect for date night or going to a concert in Grant Park.)

More places to stay hidden: The Bar BelowExchequer Restaurant & PubPazzo's Cucina Italiana

If you want to eat…

Chuck’s Manufacturing
This may not seem like the obvious choice for dinner and drinks, but it’s one of my new favorites. The burgers here are huge, and I’d even suggest splitting one so you can order some appetizers. Plus this place is perfect no matter what you’re looking for. Like to people watch? Sit up front and look out onto Michigan Avenue. Is the game on? There’s a whole wall of TVs. Do you just want to relax? The back lounge is pretty comfy. (Tip: If you’re looking for a light but tasty drink, try the Gearbox.)

More places to eat: Emerald LoopItalian Village RestaurantsMercat a la Planxa

If you want to impress the out-of-towners…

Rosebud Prime
It is thee place to go if you’re trying to impress someone with a nice steak dinner. The waiters are so friendly and attentive. The subtle piano playing in the background makes you feel right at home. There’s a bar, but it’s always tame. (Tip: Get the petite filet so you can start with some BBQ bacon-wrapped scallops and a lobster cocktail.) They have a great selection at the bar so treat yourself to something fancy. You deserve it!

More places that impress: EverestLockwood Restaurant & BarTrattoria No. 10

If you want to be authentic…

Ada's Deli
Normally thought of as a lunch spot, I’ve recently found out there’s also a casual bar at Ada’s. Feels just like that neighborhood joint around the corner from home. It’s quiet enough that you can have a conversation, and chill enough that you won’t be judged for ordering a Bud Light. (Tip: You can order food from the bar. If that corned-beef sandwich looks good -- just go for it!)

More authentic Chicago places: The BerghoffPoag Mahone's312 Chicago

 

Chicago has plenty of after-work places to go for drinks in the Loop. Just don't get too carried away. We don't approve of playing hooky!


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