Block 37 a Block too Far?


Today, the New York Times reported on the hard time Mills Corp. is having getting its New Jersey Meadowlands development, appropriately given the fantasyland monicker, Xanadu, off the ground. Apparently, blown deadlines, cost overruns, shareholder lawsuits, and an SEC investigation surround the east coast project.

Back on Block 37, Mills’ contractors already walked off the job once this year (and for a month), and similar rumbles of impending financial insolvency have been pointed out repeatedly by Crain’s Chicago Business, unfortunately taken as little to heart by the major Chicago dailies as a downstate dog running in mad circles atop the New Madrid faultline. If the disaster comes to pass, don’t say you weren’t warned.

At least, now that the Supreme Court has given cities the green light to seize property through eminent domain, the city won’t have to buy Block 37 back from private interests for the third time.

And if there is a next time, two words: piecemeal development. This is not the Dan Ryan, everything does not have to be built at once. Well, except for that airport express L station. If the Mills project does falter, watch for the city to try to temporarily green-roof the station. Which, at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, would bring Block 37 right — back — to — where — it — started before Mills came sniffing. And you thought Millennium Park was expensive.

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