How to Compete With a Cash Offer When Buying a House

Photo of a happy married couple talking with financial advisor on a meeting in the office

After pounding the pavement for what seems like forever, you’ve finally found the place you want to put an offer on. But alas, someone else has already got their fingers on it, and it’s a cash buyer, no less. Buyers with cash are known to swoop in and snatch up properties from under mortgaged buyers. But don’t fret – you’re not necessarily out of the game just yet.

Here are some ways you can be some stiff competition to an all-cash buyer.

Offer More Than The Competition

Throwing more money on the table that what the cash buyer is offering might sound nuts. But when sellers see dollar signs, they might just be willing to look in your favor, even if the cash offer looks like a shoo-in. If you want to increase your chances of landing the house, you might want to consider topping the cash offer with more money. If this is the house you plan on living in for a long time, the extra cash might be worth it.

Give the Sellers the Closing Date They Want

If the sellers still haven’t bough another house to move into, they might need some extra time to find the right place, especially if the supply is short. On the other hand, if the sellers are anxious to get the house off their hands in order to save on carrying costs, they might want the deal to close sooner rather than later.

If you want to stand up to the competition, give the sellers the closing date they want. Whether this means having to wait a little, or closing next week, so be it. It’s just one additional way to sweeten the deal.

Offer a Massive Down Payment

If you can afford to scrounge up as much liquid cash as possible to put towards a down payment, your offer will look more attractive. You may not be able to pay for the house in full with cash, but the more money you put towards a down payment, the less financing you’ll need, which always looks safer in the eyes of the seller.

Many times the reason why financing may fall through is because the appraisal comes in at a lower number than the purchase price. In this case, if you’ve only borrowed 50%, for instance, you shouldn’t have as much of an issue compared to borrowing 75% or 80% of the purchase price.

Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage, and Skip the Financing Clause

Sellers ideally like to see a clean offer, which means little or no clauses. One condition in particular that can get the sellers’ guard up is a financing condition. While this is great to protect you against losing your deposit should the financing not go through, it’s not so great for the sellers. One of the most effective ways to compete against an all-cash buyer is to eliminate this condition altogether.

However, you don’t have to forego all protection whatsoever. To shave off some risk, make sure that you get pre-approved for a mortgage first. Just make sure that you’ll be able to bail yourself out in the event that you do lose your deposit if the seller accepts your offer, but your financing falls through for some reason.

Get a Pre-Appraisal Done

Getting the property appraised in advance can not only cut down on the time it takes to close the deal, but it can also help increase the assurance that the lender will cover you for a specific loan amount to pay for the property. However, this might be easier said than done when it comes to bigger lenders, so you might have to go through a smaller lender or mortgage broker to make this happen.

Of course, there’s only so much you can do before exhausting all your resources and efforts. But by getting your finances in order, working with a mortgage broker in advance, and dealing with a good local real estate agent, you can draft up an offer that’s as attractive to the seller as possible. You never know – you just might end up a winner.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Can Spring be on the Horizon?

Photo of a young woman happy spring is came undressing

Are you ready to embrace another weekend? Good because not only are we in the month of February, which only has 28 days, but spring is on the horizon!  Although you wouldn’t know it from this past week’s arctic blast!!  Anyway, here are a few events to get you through this weekend and closer to that spring horizon.

The region’s largest cider tasting is back after a two-year pandemic pause.  The 9th annual Cider Summit Chicago returns this weekend to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This year’s event will feature nearly 200 ciders, meads, cider cocktails, and apple spirits from over 50 producers.  Among the selections will be local, regional, and international favorites offered at two sessions – 11 a.m.-3 p.m. or 4 p.m.-8 p.m., plus food trucks on site.  There may even be a few surprises!

With warmer temps this Saturday, it’s a perfect time to head on over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (5306 N. Clark St.) in the Andersonville neighborhood to celebrate their annual Ice Cream for Breakfast Day between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.  Returning for a limited time is last year’s hit flavor, Maple-Soaked Pancakes.  Plus, the first 50 Splendid Rewards members will receive a free, very limited Ice Cream for Breakfast Day mug.  And, if you want to be one of the ten lucky winners to win ice cream for a year, just take a pic in your PJs at a Jeni’s shop then share it with the hashtag #icecreamforbreakfast, and tag @jenisicecreams!

The Ravenswood Makers Market presented by I Heart Indie Markets-Popups returns to KOVAL Distillery (4241 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Ravenswood neighborhood this Saturday (1 p.m.-6 p.m.).  A wide variety of homemade goods will be available such as jewelry, knit goods, home décor, soaps, candles, prints, paintings, and more.  This is a family-friendly, free event to attend!  You only pay for the items you wish to purchase and the drinks you want to consume.

Just a reminder that Chicago Restaurant Week wraps-up this Sunday so if you haven’t had an opportunity to treat your taste buds to some of the best food at some of the top restaurants in the city, this weekend is your last chance!  Special prix fixe menus will cost $25 for brunch or lunch, and $42 and/or $59 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity).  Bon Appetit!!

Close out the Chinese Lunar New Year this Sunday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.) at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) in The Loop as the Center’s Preston Bradley Hall is transformed into a lively Chinese marketplace for their Lantern Festival Celebration.  This celebration features food, calligraphy, puppets, a selfie booth, trinkets, a lion dance, music, dance and more!  Plus, this event is free and open to the public.

Has your sweet tooth been acting up?  Then satisfy it by attending the Donut Fest Chicago Burbs this Sunday (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) at the Temperance Beer Co. (2000 Dempster St.) in Evanston.  Guests can try fried dough from a variety of stations and vote on a winter for your Favorite Donut!  Plus, entry also includes one beer ticket.  So, enjoy a Sunday Funday while sampling donuts, enjoying beer, coffee, and more at the sweetest event in town!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: From Meigs Field to the Museum Campus’ Northerly Island

Wide angle photo of Chicago city skyline aerial panorama with Northerly Island and Lake Michigan in foreground

Northerly Island, 1521 S. Linn White Drive, is a 91-acre, man-made peninsula along Chicago’s Lake Michigan lakefront, as Wikipedia describes it. It’s probably best known as a summer concert venue (Huntington Bank Pavilion) after the demolition of Meigs Field, a landing strip/airport for small planes.

But there’s so much more to the story… 

Northerly Island was planned from the beginning 

According to Wikipedia sources, the idea for Northerly Island began with Daniel Burnham’s ‘Plan of Chicago’ which called for the creation of Northerly Island as a lakefront park at the northern end of a five-island, man-made chain between Jackson Park and 12th Street. 

Burnham passed away in 1912. By 1916, Edward H. Bennett, co-author of the Plan of Chicago, wrote that a lakefront location would be most suitable for an airport serving the central business district. By 1922, Chicago Mayor William Hale ‘Big Bill’ Thompson recommended locating the downtown airport at Northerly Island. 

Work on the island began in 1920 when Chicago voters approved a $20 million bond issue to create Northerly Island, with construction completed by 1925. 

Through the Roaring 20’s and Early 30’s, Northerly Island was part of the primary site of the Century of Progress World Fair in 1933. As for the airport… the Great Depression and World War II intervened, and Meigs Field wasn’t opened in 1946, with a 50-year lease. 

Northerly Island becomes Meigs Field

As the Meigs Field Wikipedia site tells it, numerous VIPs used the airport in order to maintain security and also to avoid inconveniencing the Chicago traveling public, including President John F. Kennedy. In a common pattern, Air Force One would land at a larger area airport, and the President would then take the Marine One helicopter to Meigs Field to avoid the complications of a Secret Service escort via Chicago’s expressways. For 50 years and more, numerous small airlines and the private planes of business executives made Meigs Field their home. 

It Happened One Night… back to Northerly Island

As the Wikipedia site mentions, in 1994, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans to close the airport and build a park in its place. Northerly Island, where the airport was located, was owned by the Chicago Park District, which refused to renew the airport lease in 1996.

Then, in 2003: “On the night of March 30, 2003, Mayor Daley ordered city crews to make the runway unusable by bulldozing large X-shaped gouges into the runway surface in the middle of the night. The stranded aircraft were later allowed to depart from Meigs’ 3,000-foot taxiway. “  

Mayor Richard M. Daley cited safety concerns, particularly in Post-9/11 America, as well as eliminating “needless contentions” by bulldozing the site outright. Naturally, there were outcries and legal actions taken.  But on September 17, 2006, the city dropped all legal appeals and agreed to pay the $33,000 fine and repay the $1 million in FAA Airport Improvement Program funds used to demolish the airfield and build Northerly Island Park, which featured a venue for concerts.

Today: Hiking, Walking, Nature-ing, Concert-ing

According to Choose Chicago, the majority of the space Is dedicated to nature, featuring a concrete trail for walking and bicycle riding, a 5-acre lagoon, casual play areas, landscaped wildlife habitats and a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. Northerly Island’s nature preserve is meant to revitalize the environment that was originally there. The new park is now home to migratory birds and natural wildlife and to protect its new inhabitants, dogs are not allowed on the park. 

Calling All Pioneers-Polar Adventure Days await! 

Every winter, Northerly Island hosts two Polar Adventure Days, where families and friends can tour the Northerly Island Natural Area. The last one takes place  from noon-3pm on February 25. Some of the exciting events planned include: 

  • Husky teams sledding around the peninsula
  • Exploring the island on snowshoes (if there’s snow)
  • Watching  the Jabberwocky Marionettes
  • Making a nature-inspired winter craft 
  • Playing in the Nature Play Space
  • Listening to stories around a bonfire  
  • Enjoying a cup of hot cocoa

Best of all: All of these activities are FREE!

Happy February (Winter) Days, everyone! 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

2023 Groundhog Day

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Restaurant Review – Experience Chicago in a cozy winter igloo atop Wicker Park’s The Kennedy!

Photo of a served table in a cafe on the roof in the form of a igloo

Once a creative way to safely dine during the pandemic, winter igloos at Chicago’s area restaurants have pivoted. Today, they are a cozy, intimate dining experience for two, or for your family.

Unlike restaurant seating, you share a space with your nearest and dearest, creating an intimacy not always possible in a bustling Chicago restaurant. Surrounded by heaters, the experience is as warm as an indoor space, and in rooftop restaurants like The Kennedy, 1551 W. North Ave, atop the Hyatt Place Hotel-Wicker Park, the twinkling lights of the city beckon you year-round with rooftop seating and exquisite food.

Your heated rooftop adventure begins with Shareable like the 606 Meat & Cheese Platter, The  Kennedy’s take on a charcuterie board, filled with local meats and cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, artisan bread, crackers, whole grain mustard, and blackberry jam. Or try a Black and Blue Flatbread, with braised beef, crumbled blue cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, arugula, and citrus vinaigrette. Their vegetarian, gluten-free Mediterranean Hummus has roasted red pepper hummus, cucumber, cherry tomato, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and pita bread. 

Other recommended shareables include Prairie Land Wings, with a choice of Kennedy’s house-made sesame sweet chili sauce, with pickled veggies or Buffalo sauce with vegetable sticks (Buffalo served with ranch), and Pulled Pork Sliders, BBQ pulled pork served on mini brioche buns, topped with cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple and arugula.

Move forward to Atlantic Salmon a pan-seared salmon served with rosemary-scented jasmine rice, and lemon caper sauce, or a casual Honey Chipotle Chicken Wrap with chipotle chicken, lettuce mix, celery, cucumber, and tomato, or tangy Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos, pairing cilantro and lime-marinated shrimp with a cilantro cabbage mix, and chili aioli. Their Rooftop Double Stack Burger has two quarter-pound beef patties on a toasted brioche bun, choice of provolone, cheddar or swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

As we always warn here… save room for dessert! Make it a shareable with Kennedy’s Signature Brownies, featuring an entire pound of gooey, warm chocolate brownies, whipped cream and scoops of ice cream, or Madison’s Skillet, a warm chocolate chip cookie skillet, topped with vanilla ice cream. Solos will enjoy their Keylime Pie, creamy-smooth and fresh in a graham cracker crust. 

Google reviewers were enchanted with the rooftop venue:

“Enjoyed an evening in one of the igloos, and had a great time!” wrote one. “The views from this rooftop are beautiful and I really enjoyed their new menu selections. They’ve definitely upped their game in the menu department!

We tried the charcuterie board which I felt was reasonably priced for what you got. We also enjoyed the beef medallions and the butternut ravioli which was a perfect balance of savory and sweet.”

We enjoyed the igloos on a 30 degree night. The igloos were warm at first to where we could take our jackets off. Eventually the temperature dropped and it did get pretty cold inside. This would be perfect in 30 degrees or above, or when the sun is out.

I will be back!”

The Kennedy is located at the corner of Ashland and North Avenues. They are open Monday- Thursday, 4pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday, 4pm-11pm, and Sunday, 11am-5pm. They serve a sumptuous brunch on Sunday, and special ‘Presidential Cocktails’ every night of the week. They are accepting reservations now for Valentine’s Day, and reservations for the igloos are highly recommended, every day of the week. Click here to reserve yours today! 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Keeping your refrigerator clean and organized

Photo of a pretty girl doing some marvelous refrigerator shelve cleaning using a sponge

I have noticed after showing hundreds of houses over the years that even homes that seem quite tidy and clean will often have refrigerators that look and smell quite bad. I think sometimes the refrigerator is the last thing people think about when cleaning the house. It’s actually pretty easy with a minimum of effort to keep this appliance clean and sweet smelling, and also a safe spot to store your food.

The optimum temperature in the refrigerator is between 33- and 39-degrees Fahrenheit. Fridge less full? Go for the higher end. Fridge full in the summer? Low end. Keep the refrigerator no more than 70% full, optimally. Leave space for leftovers and new groceries. You also want air to circulate freely. Going through the fridge often is essential to keep it smelling fresh. I usually throw out my kitchen garbage every 3-4 days. This is the time to go through the fridge. Leftovers after 4 days? Gone! Old veggies and fruit? Gone, or made into smoothies or soup. 

Cleaning is an ongoing process. Wipe up spills immediately. Wipe down handles daily and outside weekly. Every three months empty it and take out all removable parts. Wash interior and parts with hot water and a little dishwashing soap. Need more power? Never use bleach or any other non-food friendly cleaner. I usually soak a paper towel in soapy water and let it set on any particular sticky messes. Use a little baking soda with a toothbrush for any needed scrubbing. Speaking of baking soda, it’s still a great deodorizer that’s safe around food! You can even sprinkle it on the bottom of your veggie and fruit bins. Cover with paper towels before loading in the produce. Vacuum underneath and behind, dust accumulating makes the appliance work harder. 

Put any leftovers in a sealed container or zipper bags. Never store open cans as they can transfer the can metal to the food once opened. Most fruit should not be refrigerated unless very ripe to extend life. Most root vegetables should be left in a cool dark place, not refrigerated. Make sure to cool down any hot leftovers before refrigerating. Do this within 2 hours. You can cool leftovers by spreading them out on a cookie sheet or in a container placed in an ice bath. This prevents food-borne illness. 

Organizing properly will also reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Reserve the top shelf for all foods ready to eat including leftovers. Milk, eggs, and dairy on middle shelves. Despite having been built in, these items do not belong in the door. Save the door for all your condiments. Go through these when you do your 3 month clean. Check for expiration dates. Wipe clean with warm water. All raw meat and fish go on the lowest shelf, leaving no chance to drip on any ready to eat food. Place meat and fish in an open container, glass or plastic, to further quarantine. Keep fruit and veggies separate so the ethylene gas from the fruit doesn’t spoil the veggies. 

So, with a little work you too can have a sweet-smelling refrigerator and you can sleep soundly knowing your family is safe! You’d be surprised how much food-borne illness is caused by improper food handling. Also, when you decide to sell your house, the Buyer’s agents won’t be wrinkling their noses when they open the door. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Creating a Luxurious Bedroom Retreat on a Budget

Image of a bedroom interior with black stone wall, ceiling side lamps and wooden floor

Considering how many hours of the day are spent in your bedroom, it makes sense to pour a little focus and budget into this often-overlooked space. After a busy day, it would be nice to come home and retreat to a comfortable, soothing, esthetically-pleasing bedroom.

But you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to create this welcoming space. With a few simple changes, you can effectively turn your bedroom into a retreat where you can relax and unwind in style.

Paint the Walls

Surprise, surprise. Painting the walls is among the most common suggestions when it comes to redoing a room. And for good reason – it makes a room look fresh, and it’s pretty cheap.

But before you take a paint brush to your bedroom, make sure to choose a cool, neutral, pleasing color palette. Psychology really does come into play here. In case you haven’t heard, certain colors evoke specific feelings and moods in people. When it comes to the bedroom, you want the mood to be a soothing one.

In this case, a cool, neutral, serene color palette will do the job. Choose colors like pale blue, warm gray or soft yellow to create a calming sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

If you want to go for something a little more luxurious, consider wallpaper instead. This can help you not only change the color, but add a sophisticated and rich-looking pattern that will dramatically change the look of the space.

Change up the Lighting

Forget about a standard light fixture in the middle of the ceiling. This type of lighting does little to create a soothing, relaxing, and even romantic mood in your bedroom. Instead, layer your light fixtures to create the perfect ambient lighting. Change the standard fixture on the ceiling with a more luxurious chandelier, or install pot lights at various points across the ceiling.

Add table lamps on each end table beside the bed, and affix wall sconces on opposite walls. Make sure to use soft bulbs, and install dimmer switches to allow you the opportunity to adjust the amount of light to create the perfect ambiance within your bedroom.

Add a Fancy Headboard

If your bed’s headboard is tiny, awkward, or even non-existent, consider adding a more lavish headboard. But instead of buying one already made, consider channelling your inner artist and create one yourself! Compared to upwards of $400 or even $600 for store-bought headboards, you can make one yourself at a fraction of the cost.

Grab yourself some wood, a hammer, fabric, padding, and a staple gun, and you’d be surprised at the masterpiece that you can create, fully customized to your bedroom! If you’re not feeling so productive, even just draping the wall behind your bed in a lush fabric can make a difference.

Update Your Bed Linens

The bedding that you sprawl across your mattress will make a huge difference to the room. New bedding in gorgeous colors and luxurious fabrics can instantly refresh a bedroom.

Consider piling up your blankets to create a “plumper” look to the bed. Add a number of pillows in a variety of sizes, and make sure to incorporate punchy color accents to really add some pizazz to the look of your bedroom. Beds are typically the focal point of the bedroom, so it’s worth it to spend the time and budget where it really matters.

Layer Area Rugs

It’s amazing how expensive area rugs can be, but to keep costs down, consider buying a few different sized ones instead of one big one. Takes these rugs and layer them to create an eclectic look at a price you can afford.

Be sure to stagger the edges of the rugs too, which will help make your bedroom appear more expensive than it actually is. Obviously a high-quality wool rug will look the most deluxe, but a simple and affordable cotton rug can be just as comfortable, and will add instant style to any bedroom.

Accessorize

To top off the bedroom, make sure to add accessories to the space to add extra color, beauty and warmth to the space. Make sure to add throw pillows, extra fabrics, window treatments, fresh flowers, aromatic candles, and even soothing sounds to the room.

It’s the little details that really bring out the best in a bedroom. For the price, you simply can’t beat the big punch these little fine points can bring to a space.

Living in the lap of luxury doesn’t exactly have to rob you of your life savings. By following these tips, you can totally transform your bedroom into one that you’ve been dreaming about – literally.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – It’s Happy Lunar New Year Time!

Photo of a rabbit with a hanging lantern on a colored background. Happy Chinese New Year

Chicagoans will bid adieu to this last weekend of January by welcoming in the Lunar New Year of 2023!  Come out and join us as we celebrate The Rabbit!!

Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar.  This year celebrates the Rabbit!  Here are a few events you might like to visit:

Come enjoy performances of local performers, artists, dance, traditional and contemporary music, food vendors, and much more at Global Connections:  Lunar New Year this Saturday (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This year’s celebration takes you through the lens of AAPI cultures highlighting the next generation of Asian Americans with featured performances, additional K Pop performances, and much more!

The Uptown neighborhood’s annual Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration kicks off the Year of the Rabbit with dazzling dragons, drummers, and more this Saturday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.).  The parade will begin at 1 p.m. at Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue then heads west on Argyle, north on Broadway, east on Winona, and south on Sheridan back to Argyle.  The parade will not be proceeding down Ainslie this year due to construction.  Over 20+ local community groups, cultural institutions, dancers, and performers will be in attendance as well as plenty of family-friendly activities for all to enjoy!

Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in Chinatown at the neighborhood’s Lunar New Year Parade this Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue which will travel north on Wentworth to the viewing stand at Cermak Road.  The parade will feature traditional dragon and lion dancing teams, colorful decorated floats, marching bands, and marching groups.  Plus, red lanterns symbolizing good fortune will be strewn above and along Chinatown’s Wentworth Avenue, while local businesses will be decorated with pictures and signs depicting rabbits!

Enjoy a day of Disney magic at the United Center (1901 W. Madison St.) on the Near West Side as Disney on Ice Presents:  Frozen & Encanto, which wraps-up its stay at the United Center this weekend.  Kids of all ages will be delighted by ice skating performances by their favorite characters!  Plus, you can purchase a character experience that includes crafting and interactive time with Elsa from Frozen and Mirabel from Encanto!!

Winter is the best time to warm the cockles of your heart at this year’s Mac & Cheese Crawl this Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) at various locations in Wrigleyville.  Tickets include admission to all bars on the crawl and 7 free mac & cheese servings along with drink specials, giveaways, and more!  It’s time to get your fill of those delicious, heart-warming cheesy noodles!!

Oh Boy, we’re down to the last four teams before the Big Game!  Here’s your NFL Conference Championship line-up for this Sunday:  49ers (13-4) at Eagles (14-3) (2:00 p.m.) and Bengals (12-4) at Chiefs (14-3) (5:30 p.m.).  Will there be any upsets by the underdogs?  We’ll have to wait and see!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News-Discover Chicago’s ‘People’s Palace’ at the Chicago Cultural Center

Photo of a beautiful downtown Chicago morning along the river

Known for its dazzling, ornate mosaic ceilings in Preston Bradley Hall, elegant receptions, and myriad free arts programming, the Chicago Loop’s Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, has entertained presidents, served as our central public library, and today, provides hundreds of free arts and entertainment programs annually. As the nation’s first free municipal cultural center, the Chicago Cultural Center is one of the city’s most popular attractions and is considered one of the most comprehensive arts showcases in the United States.

“The People’s Palace” started out as the Central Public Library 

The Chicago Cultural Center began its life as Chicago’s Central Public Library in 1897. Construction began in 1892, after a then-innovative public tax was used to finance the building. According to the Center’s website, “the country’s top architects and craftsmen used the most sumptuous materials, such as rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and colored stone, to create an architectural showplace. Located on the south side of the building, the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome, with some 30,000 pieces of glass ― was restored to its original splendor in 2008. On the north side of the building is a 40-foot-diameter dome with some 50,000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance pattern, designed by Healy & Millet.”

Five years later, after several construction delays, the spectacular, Beaux Arts neo-classical granite and limestone ‘palace,’ stretching from Randolph Street to Washington Street on Michigan Avenue, was finally completed. During the first week of October 1897, the people of Chicago marveled at the sparkling building that housed an inspired, marvelous library and a serenely beautiful Grand Army of the Republic War Memorial. 

For the next 80 years, the building stood as one of the most ornate and popular free public libraries in the nation. 

Transition from Library to Cultural Center

According to the Chicago Architecture Center, by the mid-1960s, the building, like many structures of its age, seemed obsolete. Most downtown residents were scattering to the suburbs, and demolition was a real possibility. However, a group of historic preservationists, most notably Charles Staples and Landmarks Illinois, advocated tirelessly for its preservation. In 1976, Eleanor ‘Sis’ Daley, the wife of Mayor Richard J. Daley, spoke up on its behalf, saying “I am for restoring and keeping all the beautiful buildings.” 

Somewhere between her support and the preservationist’s push, the building was converted in 1977 to an arts and culture center at the instigation of then-Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg. The library was relocated to a building across Michigan Avenue as the new Harold Washington Library was built, and dedicated in 1991.

According to Wikipedia sources, Weisberg, Oprah Winfrey, Chicago ‘s late First Lady Maggie Daley and many more prominent Chicago women are pictured on a 2017 mural entitled ‘Rush More.’ Located on the west facade of the cultural center, the piece is an homage to women who have contributed to the culture of Chicago.

Today, an Arts Programming Mecca

Every year, the Chicago Cultural Center presents hundreds of free international, national, regional and local artists, musicians and performers, providing a showcase where the public can enjoy and learn about the arts.

Lantern Festival Celebration

On Sunday, February 5th, from 12pm –4pm, at Preston Bradley Hall, all are invited to close out the Chinese New Year season as The Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall is transformed into a lively Chinese marketplacefeaturing lion dance, music, dance and more by some of Chicago’s most illustrious performers, and enjoy food, calligraphy, puppets, a selfie booth, trinkets and more. Thisz event is free and open to the public. 

You can learn more about the center with a free tour. These are led every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:15pm. The building is open Monday-Thursday. 10am-7pm, Friday, 10am-6pm, Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday, 11am-5pm. They are closed on holidays. For more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: A hopping good time to celebrate Lunar New Year at Lakeview’s 2D Restaurant!

Photo of Jinli Ancient Street in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

Happy Lunar New Year, Dean’s Team readers! This year’s Lunar New Year started Sunday, January 22, and spans 15 days until the full moon (February 5). Chicago’s Asian communities on the North (Argyle Street/Broadway) and South (Chinatown, 16th and Wentworth) are gearing up for a spectacular Year of the Rabbit! 

After all, several sources cite the rabbit as the luckiest of the 12 animals, and is considered a gentle animal that thinks before acting. 

In Chicago, one restaurant is so carefully thought out, it deserves our attention. Lakeview’s 2d Restaurant, opened in 2022, is a 22-seat immersive, interactive and eminently Instagrammable two-dimensional “comic artopia,“ according to its website. The black and white hand-drawn 1600-foot space resembles a mashup of ‘Emily in Paris‘ meeting A-ha’s video ‘Take on Me. ‘ (ask your parents for reference!) 

While this family-owned Asian café may be called 2d, trust me when I say that their approach to food, commitment to their community, and commitment to quality service and fun for all is very much a four-dimensional experience for patrons. 

You can see 2d Restaurant’s wife-and-husband team of Vanessa Thanh Vu, the Interior Designer and Chef Kevin Yu’s commitment and thoughtfulness, so appropriate for the Year of the Rabbit, in their limited menu, which specializes in plant-based Asian chicken sandwiches, Vietnamese coffee concoctions, and 2d Mochi (Pon De Ring) Donuts

They even explain why their specialty is the ‘What-the-Chicken’ sandwich. “It’s all about sustainability,” they explain on their website. “On  average, plant-based chicken use less land, water, and produces less CO2 than chicken from birds. “ Good to know. And bravo!

And their donuts? They are “freshly made daily using the 2d exclusive mochi donut recipe, which we sourced three different blends of mochi powder and tapioca powder to mix our signature cake flour to create one of the kind 2d mochi donuts.” It’s also “relatively low” in gluten and fat. Bravo again! 

Start your adventure with their Original What-the-chicken sandwich, an ultra-crispy WTC chicken, topped with fresh shredded cabbage topped with Japanese mayo. PLT What-the-chicken sandwich, which pairs plant-based chicken, lettuce and tomato with Japanese mayo. (think BLT, use chicken, and give it an Asian twist). 

Save room for the donuts! Delectable, Winnie-the-Pooh inspired Eeyore Grey, the Winnie-the-Pooh, with peanut butter and honey, Passion Fruit Pebble, and the Blue Man, named for the famed interactive performance artists experience. Those are just a few of the whimsical flavors and colors inspired by the North Side of Chicago, children’s stories, holidays and area landmarks. They also have unique Chicago Bulls merch based on Benny the Bull, their mascot. 

2d has captured the hearts of Google reviewers. One wrote, 

“Thought the whole experience, atmosphere, and food was awesome! Hear me out, order the chicken tenders and the strawberry cheesecake donuts and take a bite of both at the same time. Fire. I was in taste bud heaven. It is pricey to go but sometimes you gotta splurge and enjoy things. Do it! Go and enjoy!”

Lunar New Year’s Celebration, Chicago Bulls Merch and Special Donut

They’re going all out for Lunar New Year, with events, red envelop giveaways, traditional food tasting, and more! Using the talents of students from nearby Haines Elementary School and partner Chicago Bulls, 2d Restaurant created a special mochi donut for the lunar new year. All profits from the donut will be donated to Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, which is dedicated to eliminating pediatric cancer and providing help and support to pediatric cancer patients and their families. 

2d is located at 3155 N. Halsted Street. They are open Thursdays, 9am–4pm, Fridays 9am–5pm, Saturdays, 8am–8pm, Sundays, 8am–6pm, and Mondays, 9am–4pm. For reservations and information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago