You know, it's hard to feel sorry for anyone who invested in this charlatan's buildings, but still:
Two signs of a slowdown in Trump's signature building have emerged: a decline in sales of condos and a stack of unsold listings that is bigger than in competitive buildings.
At year-end, sales in the building were down from 2015, according to Gail Lissner, vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors, which tracks the downtown real estate market. There were 34 sales in the building in 2016, a drop of almost 40 percent from 2015's 56 sales, according to Lissner.
That's compared to an 11.3 percent increase in sales of all condos priced $650,000 and up, from 1,451 sales in 2015 to 1,616 sales in 2016, according to Midwest Real Estate Data. (Though many condos at Trump are priced in the multimillion-dollar range, the prices on currently listed condos start in the mid-$600,000s.)
The Trump building has the highest percentage of units on the resale market within a group of 10 downtown condo buildings all completed within several years of one another, according to a Crain's analysis.
Investors are out millions, and it seems directly attributable to Trump being Trump. Pity.
Growing up, one of my favorite things in the whole world was the O-gauge model railroad at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Atlas Obscura describes the $3.5m refurbishment that opened in 2002:
The exhibit focuses on the intersection of transportation infrastructure and economic activity—the intercity elevated train, suburban commuter rail, and cross country freight lines, all buzzing with a vibrant post-WWII industrial economy of decades past.
The trip begins in Chicago, which is the most recognizable area to a contemporary visitor. Iconic buildings like the Sears Tower and downtown neighborhoods like the Loop are shown in a spellbinding level of detail, replete with miniature cars, pedestrians and vegetation. Tiny electric trains scoot around through the skyscraper valleys and every half hour the museum lights dim as the exhibit enters “nighttime mode.”
As the exhibit moves westward five foot tall Rocky Mountain peaks rise into the air. The tracks cut through mountain tunnels and lumber towns before finally catching sight of the Pacific Ocean and the Port of Seattle. A hulking container ship is docked on the coast, ready to receive the raw materials and manufactured products collected along the 2,000 mile route from Chicago.
It's even cooler than the layout they had back in the day. And it's still one of my favorite things in the world.
The outgoing president has authorized $1.1 billion in Federal transportation funds to modernize the northern half of the CTA's Red Line:
City Hall has received the parting gift it wanted from the Obama administration: just under $1.1 billion in federal grants to rebuild a key stretch of the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line north.
The city and U.S. Department of Transportation officials are scheduled to sign a contract tomorrow, known as a full-funding grant agreement, committing the DOT's Federal Transit Agency to provide $957 million in "core capacity" funds and another $125 million in anti-congestion money for the CTA's Phase One Red/Purple Modernization project.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a phone interview, called the Red Line "the central nerve" of the CTA system.
The federal money "means 6,000 (construction) jobs, and it means decades of neighborhood improvements," he said, crediting U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and state officials for taking the necessary preliminary steps to make it happen.
"Forty percent of the people who take the CTA take that line," he added.
Some of the track, embankments, and stations in the affected zone are 117 years old.
In yet another unprecedented rejection of historical norms that has tremendous potential to encourage corruption and double-dealing, Senate Republicans are rushing Trump cabinet confirmations so much that the Office of Government Ethics can't keep up. This means that some confirmation hearings might start before nominees have even finished their background checks and ethics disclosures:
In a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the leader of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub Jr., said on Friday that “the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me.”
He said the packed schedule had put “undue pressure” on the office to rush its reviews of the nominees and he knew of no other occasion in the office’s four decades when the Senate had held a confirmation hearing before the review was completed.
Democrats plan to keep the focus on the president-elect to a degree with few historical parallels. New presidents usually serve as a backdrop; this year, by contrast, Mr. Trump’s words will loom over the hearings as Democrats press the nominees to take a position on them.
Democrats have little chance of blocking any of the nominees, having given up the use of the filibuster in such cases when they were in the majority, but they say Mr. Trump has handed them ample political ammunition.
My hope is that the hearings will at least get a lot of this on the record, even if we can't stop the nominations from succeeding. But the people Trump has nominated seem calculated to do the most damage to the Federal government as nearly all of them have financial interests within the scope of their nominations, or are openly hostile to the departments they'll be running. Get ready for a mind-boggling term of wholesale theft from the American people.
The last two days, I've been in meetings more than 7 hours each. I'm a little fried. Meanwhile, the following have popped up for me to read over the weekend:
I'm now off to the opera. Thence, perhaps, to sleep.
Now that Eddie Lampert has killed Sears almost with his bare hands, he's selling the best bits off. The Craftsman brand of tools is probably the most respected piece of the formerly-august company, so naturally it's the first to go:
Sears Holdings agreed to sell its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker for about $900 million, marking CEO Edward Lampert's third move in the past two weeks to prop up the beleaguered retailer with fresh sources of funding.
Under terms of the deal, Stanley will pay $525 million at closing and $250 million after three years, the companies said in a statement today. The buyer also will make annual payments on new Craftsman sales for 15 years. Separately, Sears announced plans to shutter 150 unprofitable stores in a bid to streamline the chain.
Craftsman has been part of Sears since 1927, when the retailer acquired the brand for $500. The tools debuted in the iconic Sears catalog two years later. By the 1940s, the brand benefited from a surge in power-tool sales. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter was given a Craftsman woodworking set as his farewell gift when he left the White House.
I really don't understand this guy. He's loaned Sears $500m of his own money. Is it ego? Incompetence? Or part of a master plan to make money by destroying Sears? We might never know.
The first brick-and-mortar Sears store, which closed this past fall, will become apartments and a giant liquor store by next year:
Chicago developer Springbank Capital Advisors has purchased the old Sears store in Ravenswood and plans to turn it into a $30 million apartment and retail complex, said David Trandel, chairman and chief executive of Springbank.
The building at 1900 W. Lawrence Avenue was closed last summer by Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings as the retail firm shuttered dozens of Sears and Kmart stores. The 40,434-square-foot store had been operated as a Sears store since November 1928.
The full development of apartments and retail will be 105,000 square feet. The $30 million in financing is provided by UC Funds of Boston, Trandel said. The developer plans to start removing asbestos this month, and begin construction in May with a summer 2018 completion.
Still, Eddie Lampert's murder of the Sears brand is criminal.
January 3rd is one of my favorite days of the year in astronomy, because it's the day that the northern hemisphere has its latest sunrise of the winter. This morning in Chicago, the sun rose at 7:19 (though it rose behind a thick rainy overcast), just a few seconds later than it rose yesterday. But tomorrow it will rise just a few seconds earlier, then a few more, until by the end of January it'll rise more than a minute earlier each day.
Meanwhile, thanks to the eccentricity of our orbit around the sun, sunsets have gotten later since the first week of December. It's noticeable now; today's sunset at 16:33 is 14 minutes later than the earliest sunset on December 7th. A week from now sunset is at 16:40; a week later, at 16:48.
By January 31st we will see more clearly that the dark days of northern hemisphere winter are ending. Sunrise at 7:04 and sunset at 17:04 gives us 10 full hours of sunlight, 47 minutes more than we'll get today.
So even though the 115th Congress opened today in Washington, with the House Republicans proposing to geld their own ethics watchdog (and why would they want to do that, hmmm?), at least things will literally get more sunny throughout the country every day for the next six months.
Welcome to another of my annual traditions: the stats dump.
- Traveling was way, way down over previous years. I only visited one foreign country (the UK) and took only 15 flights all year. That amounted to only 42,588 km, not enough to re-qualify for Platinum status for the first time since 2008.
- The Daily Parker had only 459 posts, down from 2015's 493, and the lowest since 2010. I was really, really busy this year. Posting suffered.
- Parker got 211 hours of walks, up 62 from 2015. So he did not suffer as much as the blog.
- Speaking of walks, I got 4,693,427 steps in 2016, beating 2015 by 29,266 steps—or 0.062%. That puts my 2016 daily average at 12,823.5, compared with 2015's 12,786.7. So, really, 37 steps a day. I think I can do better in 2017; we'll see. I still have yet to crack 50,000 steps in a day. Roll on spring.
- I'm still not reading as much as I used to. I started 23 books in 2016 (up from 2015's 21) but finished 15. If you're keeping count, yes, I dropped some books I started, and still have a book from 2015 to finish. Again, I hope to do better in 2017.
So here we go. Another year. This one could kill us all. Certainly we're all going to be a lot poorer. But maybe I'll read more books, take more steps, and walk Parker more hours.
(See 2015 and 2014 for comparison.)
The 2017 Chicago sunrise chart is now available. Share and enjoy.