Solar eclipse 2017: What to expect in Chicago

We’re only a few days away from the big solar eclipse that will be visible across all of North America, but what can Chicagoans expect? Chicago’s location means that residents won’t experience the full sun-blocking effects of the phenomenon, but the moon will block 87 percent of the sun from our perspective. And in typical Chicago fashion, the weather may or may not be ideal for the big spectacle. Despite an unusually long streak of sunny and temperate summer weather, Monday is shaping up to be a cloudy one.

According to the latest weather reports from WGN and the Weather Channel, Monday’s forecast is suggesting clouds and possible thunderstorms later in the day. It’s also shaping up to be a hot and humid day with a high of 87 degrees expected. But of course, we’re still three days out which is more than enough time for things to completely change. This is Chicago after all.

In Chicago, the eclipse is expected to begin at 11:54 a.m. and by 1:19 p.m. Numerous parks and sites around the city are hosting eclipse watching parties next Monday for the event. The Chicago Park District alone is organizing 20 separate events for next week. And while many of the formal watching parties will offer certified solar glasses for the eclipse, it may not be a bad idea to pick some up just in case.

While we won’t be in the direct path for a full eclipse of the sun, downstate residents are. If you’re considering a last-minute weekend trip, Carbondale is going to be the place to be. The city is expecting an influx of 60,000 visitors for the celestial event. Carbondale is hosting a full-on festival for the eclipse for this weekend with numerous events and a huge watch party at Souther Illinois University’s Saluki Stadium.


Eldorrado Group Welcomes a New Broker

Eldorrado Chicago Real Estate is proud to officially announce the addition of a new power broker to the Eldorrado Group.  Please join us in welcoming one of the finest in the industry, Isaac Torres, and to his becoming more so by the joining of mutual values, skills, and integrity, which are the keystones of our organization.

Isaac Torres

A lifetime resident of Chicago, Isaac not only knows and loves the city, he’s eager to share his knowledge with all of those in need of real estate advice or counsel.  Isaac having enjoyed the search for and acquisition of his own property, discovered that his career in Finance was a perfect segway into the real estate arena.  He immediately saw that his skill set and his passion combined were a winning combination to skyrocket a career in real estate and help others.

With a combined 8 years of service as Director of Finance and Minister of Operations at his house of worship, CityLights Church, Isaac has become very familiar with zoning, permitting, construction and renovation.  His leadership skills, knowledge, and experience dovetail perfectly into helping clients with residential, commercial, and special use real estate needs.

Prior to being in the non-profit sector, his prior 7 years in Banking having last served at Chase Bank as a Business Specialist Banker also garnered him valuable experience that translates into helping real estate clients.  His experience and interaction with investment bankers, loan officers, and clients has given him the wealth of knowledge and understanding to help others with their finances.

Isaac has proven to be a trust worthy and knowledgeable agent.  His consistent display of honesty and integrity for all parties of the real transaction is what sets him apart. Eldorrado Chicago Real Estate is thrilled to have another team player with high standards to represent them in the industry.  Whether buying or selling, Isaac proves he can successfully deliver results for his clients.

In his spare time, Isaac enjoys serving and being a resource to those in the community.  A lot of people need financial literacy training. Isaac is passionate about educating others on budgeting, debt elimination, credit counseling, and financial planning. All to better prepare people to realize their dreams of home ownership.

Isaac resides on the Northwest side of Chicago bordering the Village of Oak Park and although knows the entire City well, knows this area extremely well. He resides with his beautiful wife, an employee at Moody Bible Institute, and with his soon-to-be born son, Ian.

Isaac is licensed in the State of Illinois as a Real Estate Broker and is a member of the Chicago Association of Realtors, the Illinois Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors.

Isaac Torres
Office: 312-612-9060
Direct: 312-304-6417

City begins long-awaited registration of Airbnb hosts

Attention Chicago Airbnb scofflaws: The city is finally ready to stop you from flouting its home-sharing rules.

After a prolonged delay, the city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection is officially rolling out its registration system for hosts on the short-term housing rental website.

Beginning today, thousands of Airbnb hosts with pending registration applications will be notified that they have been approved to host guests. At the same time, the city is starting a process to alert hundreds of other hosts that their applications have been denied under the home-sharing ordinance the city passed last year.

The system’s activation offers relief for many Chicago Airbnb hosts who for months have been waiting to get the city’s stamp of approval to rent out their properties.

The city’s ordinance imposing license fees, taxes and registration rules on short-term rental sites like Airbnb went into effect in March. But the system to weed out those that are restricted by the city law has been delayed in its rollout, leaving most local rental listings with a notification that their city registration was pending and homeowners unsure about whether they could legally rent their properties.

As a result, the city has not been able to enforce its ordinance or issue fines for those that violate it, which range from $1,500 to $3,000.

Business Affairs & Consumer Protection Department Commissioner Rosa Escareno said the delay was partly due to the city’s effort to carefully evaluate and process data shared by Airbnb about all of its Chicago listings.

If the new system works as planned, it will be able to catch any hosts that don’t comply with the city’s short-term rental rules based on information Airbnb provides twice a month about its active hosts. The system is designed to flag ineligible properties that don’t have the proper zoning or are located in a building that prohibits short-term rentals, for example.

Sifting through thousands of registration applications sent by Airbnb in recent months and making sure the automated system categorized them properly took time, Escareno said. “We wanted to do it right. We’re counting on the system to work.”

Data from Airdna, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm that sells data analytics to Airbnb hosts, show there were nearly 7,000 Airbnb listings in Chicago as of June. That number, while higher than the figures the city is dealing with, is down 10 percent since the city’s ordinance was passed in the fall.

Escareno said the delay was also exacerbated by lawsuits filed late last year against the city over its home-sharing ordinance, which pushed back timing on when it could begin collecting data from Airbnb about its hosts.


While the approval process is relatively simple, however, the steps to deny home-sharing applicants are cumbersome. The city will begin notifying those hosts individually, beginning with units in buildings where short-term rentals are prohibited.

Those hosts will have 20 days to file an appeal with the city. If they do, the city has 10 days to notify them of a hearing date. If they don’t, they receive notices that they are in final denial status, Escareno said.

“We just need to be very cautious in how we approach these,” she said. “Because of the process we must go through to allow everyone due process, we internally have to make sure we have proper resources for that.”

Complicating matters: The city has a list of hundreds of other units whose information received from Airbnb is incomplete in some way, such as a missing unit number. Escareno said her department will work with Airbnb to contact those hosts and have them update their information.

In the meantime, any host that is not compliant with the ordinance can continue to operate until they hear from the city. That is a major flaw in the registration system, said Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, who has been a vocal critic of the city’s home-sharing ordinance and was briefed on the new registration system before its debut.

“To me, that’s backwards. It always has been backwards, that somehow you start with the assumption that you can have this short-term rental,” she said. “We are really going to have to hold the city’s feet to the fire to do these enforcement actions.”

Another pending issue for the city is that its registration system incorporates only Airbnb hosts, while listings on other home-sharing sites are not included.

Escareno said the city has sent a letter to a “handful” of companies with local listings that do not have licenses to operate in Chicago as required under the city ordinance.

One such large company is Austin, Texas-based HomeAway, which sued the city in May seeking a court ruling that the city’s home-sharing ordinance is unconstitutional.

That lawsuit is pending, but Escareno said the city has been in conversation with HomeAway officials on setting up a licensing process for hosts listed on its platform. HomeAway did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.


Edgewater’s luxury home market is taking off

As home prices in lakefront Chicago neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Lakeview become less and less affordable, buyers are starting to set their sights further north. As a result, the Edgewater community is beginning to really heat up. The change has been most notable at the high end of the home pricing spectrum where the sale of luxury single family properties has surged.

According to a new report published by Chicago Magazine, nine Edgewater homes sold for more than $1 million in 2015. Last year, that figure more than tripled to 29 transactions. The recent boom has seen average per square foot prices go from $98 back in 2012 to $178—well above the citywide average of $134. Experts believe this year is on pace to see the trend continue, despite lower than normal inventory.

The reasons behind Edgewater’s boost are manifold. The neighborhood has added many new shops and restaurants and offers access to good public schools, four L stops, and possibly a new Metra station proposed at Peterson. Buyers are also seeing value in the area’s larger lots. With new development headed to the former Edgewater Medical Center complex, the newfound momentum is expected to continue.

A Lollapalooza guide to Grant Park’s most famous buildings

While the thousands of festival-goers flooding Chicago’s Grant Park today for Lollapalooza are there for the musical performances above all else, there’s no denying that a large part of the four-day event’s appeal is the unique venue. Located essentially in downtown Chicago’s front lawn, the musical celebration owes a lot to its backdrop consisting of some of the Windy City’s finest architecture. Like the ever-changing park itself, the manmade glass and steel scenery has also evolved since Lollapalooza began in 1991.

Whether you are a first-time visitor to downtown Chicago or a seasoned local in need of a quick refresher, here are some of the notable skyscrapers that form Lollapalooza’s world class skyline. For this rundown we start with the northeast corner of Grant Park working “stage left,” ending at the southeast quadrant near the Museum Campus.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower

Our tour starts with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower. Though the office building currently stands at 57 stories, the building first opened in 1997 rising only 33 floors. A vertical expansion between 2007 and 2010 allowed the insurance company to “grow into” a larger space as needed. The addition also created an impressive double-height sky lobby halfway up the structure.

With the top of the expanded building mirroring its previous crown, it looks as if the BCBS-anchored building could undergo yet another expansion in the future. Despite what your friends may have told you, this is not the case. The tower was designed from the start to rise no higher than its current height of 797 feet.

Aon Center

Originally known as the Standard Oil Building or “Big Stan,” Chicago’s third tallest skyscraper was later renamed the Amoco Building and ultimately the Aon Center. Completed in 1973, the monolithic office tower’s white facade has an interesting (and very expensive) story. Initially wrapped in 43,000 thin slabs of Carrara marble from Italy, the building was later re-clad in granite after the marble was deemed structurally unsafe. The job cost an estimated $80 million–well more than half of the tower’s original construction cost.

One Prudential Plaza

The older of the two skyscrapers that comprise Chicago’s Prudential Plaza, the modern tower now known as One Prudential Plaza sported the Windy City’s highest roof and public observatory when it was completed in 1955. Though later dwarfed by the supertalls of the 1970s, the office building and its brightly-lit broadcast antenna still make an impact from the park. Each of the tower’s 2,617 windows flip in such a manner that both sides can be washed from the inside.

Crain Communications Building

A fixture on the Windy City skyline for 33 years, this tower with its diamond-shaped, angled crown is perhaps best recognized for its prominent role in the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting. Known by a number of nicknames inspired by its debatable likeness to human anatomy, the tower was dubbed the Associates Center when it first opened. The skyscraper went by the official names of the Stone Container Building and the Smurfit-Stone Building before its most recent rechristening as the Crain Communications Building five years ago.

Legacy at Millennium Park

Moving from the north end of Grant Park to its western flank is the tall, blue glass tower known as Legacy at Millennium Park. Built in 2009, the 72-story structure is the tallest residential tower completed in Chicago following the Great Recession (though taller projects are currently on the way). Set back from the lower historic building along Michigan Avenue, Legacy’s reflective facade is particularly pretty from the park during sunset.

Mid-Continental Plaza

Standing in stark juxtaposition to Legacy’s slenderness is the imposingly wide tower known as Mid-Continental Plaza. Designed by Alfred Shaw and Associates in 1972 as a 50-story office building, Mid-Continental Plaza later changed to mixed-use. Work to convert the top 15 floors of the tower into residential units began in 2007. The process saw the exterior re-clad and new balconies punched into the facade. Architecture aficionados remain divided over the aesthetics of the overhaul.

Willis Tower

If you want to be correct, this building is known as the Willis Tower. If you want to sound like a local (or perhaps come across as older) it’s “da Sears.” Completed in 1973, the 1,450-foot tower is the undisputed king of the Chicago skyline and held the title of the world’s tallest building for decades.

The tower is currently in the middle of $500 million makeover which will eventually include a new retail and dining complex at its base and an overhaul and expansion of its 103rd-floor observatory. Come back for Lolla 2020 for a chance to rappel down the exterior of the iconic skyscraper.

CNA Center

City skylines, like your living room, can benefit from a tasteful pop of color. In the case of Chicago, the colorful accent comes from the 600-foot CNA Center. Named after its anchor tenant but affectionately referred to as “Big Red” by employees, the office tower has brightened up downtown Chicago since 1972. Despite making its home in the tower since its opening, CNA will take its workforce—and naming rights—to a new Loop office tower expected to open at 151 N. Franklin in mid 2018.

One Grant Park

Sweeping around to the south end of the park is a classic Chicago skyscraper still in the making. While the stumpy structure with its bright blue climbing concrete forms might not look like much at the moment, it will eventually become the first of two very tall residential towers that will redefine the southern half of Chicago’s skyline. Known as One Grant Park, the skyscraper will climb 80 stories to its architectural pinnacle.

 One Museum Park

Until One Grant Park and its taller sibling are finished, the south end of the park still belongs to the 726-foot tower known as One Museum Park. Designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Pappageorge Haymes, the 62-story residential building was completed in 2009. Rising just over the shoulder of Lolla’s southern-most stage, the structure makes a dramatic statement with multiple styles of glass and a lipstick-like architectural crown.