Chicago: 9 Reasons to Be Optimistic About 2015

Cubs. Yachts. Grant Achatz. Let's preview.

By The Editors
January 1, 2015 9:00 am

2014, you were great. But this is 2015. This is Chicago. Onward and upward, both in rent and spirit. Behold, our Nine Reasons to Be Optimistic in 2015. Get pumped.

9. The Virgin Hotel

Set to open in January (reservation lines are open), the first ever hotel from rebel billionaire Richard Branson is gonna be bonkers. State-of-the-art room amenities. Top-shelf minibars stocked at street prices. Event spaces and meeting rooms. A few restaurants, a wine bar and a rooftop lounge. You know, First-Class Executive stuff.

8. ITU World Triathlon Grand Final

We’re not saying do this. God, no. But, we’ll be the third ever city in the U.S. to host this world-class race, which’ll also be making stops in cities like Auckland, Cape Town and Stockholm. One reason to watch: it’s also a U.S. Men’s and Women’s Olympic Qualifier event for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

7. The Cubs! No, Seriously.

Right off the heels of Wrigley’s new renovations comes the game-changing, six-year, $155 million contract that signed stud pitcher Jon Lester. Add to that a strong bullpen. Joe Maddon signed on as manager. Young star Anthony Rizzo looks promising, as does top prospect Addison Russell. It’s gonna happen, guys. Maybe.

6. Breakwater

It’s a luxury yacht. It’s an island resort. It’s … almost inconceivable: a floating island that’ll sit on Lake Michigan replete with spas, lounges, shops, restaurants and water taxis. Scheduled to open 2015. But make no mistake about it, legislative hurdles abound. Keep your ear to the water.

5. The Chicago Architecture Biennial

When the inaugural CAB lands in Chicago this fall, it will be the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America. On deck: public installations, civic programming and top-notch programming from an advisory panel including Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry and other visionary architects.

4. The James Beard Awards

The James Beard awards is leaving New York City for Chicago. What’s that mean? Well, the event is like the Oscars of the American food industry. So expect a steady buzz and a deluge of big-name chefs to the city. Hope they’re hungry.

3. Grant Achatz’s New Restaurant

Speaking of which, superstar chef Grant Achatz plans to open a new concept in the former iNG space before the James Beard Awards come to town. From early reports, it’ll be the antithesis of Alinea or Next. So … babies allowed?

2. The 606

If there’s anything we can learn from New York, it’s that renovating a dilapidated elevated rail line for public use is not a terrible idea. And that’ll be the 606 once it opens in summer 2015. By completion, this elevated park will run three miles east-west from Rideway to Ashland Avenue — flush with gardens and viewing areas, dynamic walking and biking trails and ground-level parks acting as entry points every few blocks. Get excited.

1. Decision 2015

With everyday-Joe-billionaire Bruce Rauner elected as governor, 2015’s political landscape, if anything, will be highly entertaining. Good luck with this guy, Bruce. So, that’s a bright side for the politically apathetic. But there’s also the mayoral election, which is a reason for optimism no matter which side of the bureaucratic see-saw you sit on. Let’s hope for political attack ads as brilliant as this one.

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