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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.

Categories: Planning

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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1 reply

  1. Dear Mike: Didn’t Blair Kamin write a column a while back making the case for a beautiful plaza atop the O’hare subway terminal occupying the whole of Block 37? He (or someone like him as I remember)described a wonderful urban space for travelers and Chicagoans which set off the surrounding architecture of Carson’s and Marshall Field’s and other and other buildings and which included the view east on Washington of the glinting and soaring proscenium arch of the Millenium park stage. I remember reading the article and thinking this was the ideal solution.

    Also I loved the picture of the madly circling downstate dog to whom nobody listened. PAX, wpg.

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