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42nd Ward Alderman Reilly joins Michael Edwards, Martin Stern at Annual Meeting

42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly has been added to the list of speakers at Chicago Loop Alliance's 2013 Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception.

The event–to be held February 26 from 4-6:30 pm at the distinguished University Club of Chicago–assembles more than 250 business, cultural, and civic leaders who have a stake in the health and prosperity of Chicago's great downtown.

In addition to Alderman Reilly, Chicago Loop Alliance and Foundation Chairman Martin Stern and Executive Director Michael Edwards will offer a vision for the Loop. Edwards, the economic development expert recently appointed to lead Chicago Loop Alliance, is a recognized downtown leader whose portfolio includes the revitalization of Pittsburgh's central area.

Edwards' presentation comes at a pivotal time for Chicago Loop Alliance, and the Loop itself.

During 2012, Chicago Loop Alliance presented Lightscape, which brought to life displays presented in partnership with community organizations; unveiled the city's largest-ever art installation, "Color Jam"; and served as a key partner in hosting the NATO summit. In November, the Board of Directors announced the appointment of Edwards as Executive Director.

Tickets for the Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception are now on sale.

Limited sponsorships are also available.

The 2013 Annual Meeting is generously supported by DesignLab, Related Midwest, and the Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group.


Congress Plaza Hotel sold, residential conversion planned

According to Crain's Chicago Business, The Congress Plaza Hotel, a massive structure at Michigan and Congress, is under new ownership. A joint venture of New York investors will snap up the property for $275 million, or about $315 per key, Crain's reports.

Some of the 871 rooms will remain as guestrooms, but a portion of the property is set to be converted to condominiums. Residential development -- both new construction and adaptive reuse -- has been steady in the central business district. A study commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance notes a 196% rise in Loop households between 2000 and 2010; in 2010, more than 20,000 residents lived in the Loop proper, and nearly 30,000 residents in the central business district.

Condos at The Congress Plaza will join a number of notable condo conversions in the district, including its Michigan Avenue neighbor Metropolitan Tower and the recently delivered Randloph Towers.


Member profiles: Winter WonderLoop partners The Berghoff Restaurant and Block Thirty Seven

Winter WonderLoop is made possible through the generous support of: Restaurant Partner the Berghoff Restaurant Group, serving family recipes in the Loop for 114 years; Retail Partner Block Thirty Seven, introducing the Loop's newest shopping destination; and Cultural Partner Time Out Chicago, whose editors helped select the 10 Wonders of the Loop for the holidays.

The Berghoff Restaurant

The Berghoff Restaurant is a Chicago classic, serving German-American cuisine and culture since 1898. One of the oldest family-run businesses in the nation, it is now run by fourth generation, Carlyn Berghoff. First generation, Herman Berghoff, opened the Berghoff doors as a men’s only saloon and made his start serving free corned beef sandwiches with the purchase of a stein of Berghoff Beer. Surviving Prohibition and obtaining Chicago’s No. 1 Liquor License, the Berghoff declared itself a Chicago staple. Throughout the years, the Berghoff expanded into a full-service restaurant and continues to set the bar for casual dining experiences. At today’s Berghoff, menus have evolved to add newer, lighter and more contemporary dishes, but it’s still the same old Berghoff, down to the famous Berghoff Root Beer. Berghoff began its annual Oktoberfest in 1985 and continues to host one of the city’s best outdoor German festivals to this day.

The Berghoff is hosting an array of activities this holiday season; kids who find the pickle ornament hidden in our famous tree will receive a free root beer. Everyone will enjoy when Santa stops by, whether it's with his friend Herman der German or when it's to pose for pictures on December 22! We'll also be offering a special prix fix menu and on extra-busy days, the downstairs space will be turned into a 'holiday hideaway lounge' complete with bites to nibble, games for the kids and merchandise for those last-minute gifts.

Prost!

More information:


Block Thirty Seven

Block Thirty Seven, Shops on State, is proud to support Chicago Loop Alliance & Winter WonderLoop 2012! Be sure to mark your calendars on Thursday, December 20th for a special holiday performance at Block Thirty Seven from Tony Award winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet. From all of us at Block Thirty Seven, we’d like to wish everyone a joyous and prosperous holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Taking its name from one of the original 58 city blocks established in 1830, Block Thirty Seven was there at Chicago's birth. Today it stands as an iconic symbol of Chicago's exciting future. Bordered by State, Randolph, Dearborn and Washington streets, Block Thirty Seven encompasses an entire city block in the heart of Chicago’s downtown Loop. It features an eclectic mix of shopping, dining and entertainment within a five-story atrium.

The center has direct access to Chicago’s Pedway as well as the CTA Red Line and Blue Line. A luxury residential component and hotel are also in the early planning stages.

On December 10, Chicago Loop Alliance and Friends of Downtown are hosting Alderman Brendan Reilly's community presentation for the amendment to the Planned Development that governs Block Thirty Seven.

More information:


A time for wonder: the best of the Loop this holiday season

The holidays are a time of wonder in the Loop. It's a time for honoring some of Chicago's best-loved traditions. A time to be dazzled by the myriad flickering lights of the season. A time to reconnect with old friends, like Defiance and On the Prowl, the bronze guardians of the Art Institute. A time to linger in front of shop windows, their animated displays aglow. A time to hum along to holiday tunes all along State Street. A time to step out on the Ledge (just maybe, this one time). The holidays in the Loop, in short, are unlike any other time, any other place.

This year, Chicago Loop Alliance teamed up with the Time Out Chicago editorial team to highlight some of our favorite Loop traditions -- the 10 Wonders of the holidays:

Window Shopping at Macy’s
Admire Macy’s iconic seasonal window displays as you walk down State Street. Macy’s on State Street, 111 N State St (312-781-4483, visitmacyschicago.com).

Holiday Music on Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience on State Street
As you search for that last-minute gift, let the music of the holidays, choreographed to lights, lift your spirits.

Christkindlmarket
Do a bit of shopping or just revel in the quaintness of it all as Daley Plaza transforms into a picturesque German marketplace for the holidays. Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Sts (312-744-3315, explorechicago.org). Nov 21Dec 24, SunThurs 11am8pm, FriSat 11am9pm; free.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and Plaza
Catch an eyeful of the gorgeous Chicago skyline as you whiz around the rink. 11 N Michigan Ave (312-742-5472, millenniumpark.org). Nov 16Mar 10, MonThurs 12pm8pm, Fridays 12pm10pm; free.

LunchBreak Series
Tune into some live music from around the world every week at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Randolph Café. On Dec. 9, don’t miss the Dance Along Nutcracker. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington St (312-744-6630, explorechicago.org) Alternating Tue, Thurs, Fri 12:15pm.

Wreathing of the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago
Watch the big cats in front of the Art Institute get decked out in their holiday finest. Don’t worry if you miss the ceremony—the lions and their wreaths will be available for photo ops all season long. Art Institute, 111 S Michigan, (312-443-3600, artic.edu). Nov 23; 10am; free.

Caroling at Cloud Gate
Celebrate the season with song. Cloudgate, Millenium Park, N Michigan Ave & E Randolph St, (explorechicago.org). Nov 23Dec 21, 66:50pm; free.

Winter Garden at Harold Washington Library  
Take a breather and warm up inside the beautiful Winter Garden. Harold Washington Library. 400 S State St, (312-747-4300, chipublib.org). Open daily, 9am-9pm; free.

Do-it-Yourself Messiah at Harris Theater
Sing Handel’s masterpiece along with the pros at the annual Do-it-Yourself Messiah. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph St, (312-334-7777, harristheaterchicago.org). Dec 17, 18, 7pm; $10.

Skydeck Chicago
It’s a winter wonderland 103 flights above Chicago. Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr (312-875-9696, theskydeck.com); $17.50, kids ages 311 $1, OctMar 10am8pm.


Citizen planners, unite!

 
I do not envy cultural planners their jobs.
 
Capturing the whole of culture was less of a methodological obstacle three decades ago, when the city's previous Cultural Plan was drafted. Then, it might still have been possible to say just what constitutes culture, to delineate "culture" from everything else -- from "not culture". It might have been possible to define culture as a finite set of institutions and products that, collectively, represented the totality of the city's scene. And so it might have still been possible to take a full inventory of culture, accounting for all of its known species, the way Borges's fictitious taxonomists did
 
Today's planners have a far more daunting task. After the aptly-named culture wars of the 60s and 70s, the category of "culture" got really elastic really quickly. Despite objections of scholars like Alan Bloom, who hoped to bulwark "high" culture against the tides of colloquial, ethnic, ritual, improvisational, and (gasp!) popular culture, we now tend to think of culture as all-encompasing, something that takes place in and around our daily lives. Watching a YouTube video? Going to a neighborhood festival? Checking out a new restaurant? Trying on clothes? Reading this blog? Congratulations: you are participating in culture. 
 
For today's planners, then, taking a full inventory isn't feasible. And even if it were, such an inventory would be obsolete from the moment it was published.
 
If it serves one overarching purpose, the new Chicago Cultural Plan reminds us that we produce and consume culture in a dizzying variety of modes. One distinction that the Plan removes, for example, is between the nonprofit sector and the commercial production of arts and culture. That's a good move: from the point of view of cultural consumers, nonprofit arts centers and for-profit fashion designers, say, are really more alike than not. 
 
Another important feature of the Cultural Plan is that it views itself as an aspirational document. Rather than capturing a snapshot of all cultural production, the Plan seeks trends and patterns that ought to be encouraged. It identifies areas that can be strengthened by easing or expediting the permitting process, for instance, and suggests ways to integrate arts and culture more organically into other areas under the City's purview, such as infrastructure, economic development, and housing. In other words, the Plan suggests a trajectory that will get Chicago to a future state. 
 
The planners' task may be unenviable, but, in a way, the burden of planning was spread among the dozens of us -- consumers, producers, and curators of culture -- who contributed an opinion, voiced a desire, took up a position. Me, I'm glad to have shouldered some of that burden. And proud to be a Citizen Planner.

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