After Long, Long Wait, Block 37 Is Open

By Zach Christman
|  Sunday, Nov 29, 2009  |  Updated 1:24 PM CDT
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Steve Madden, Puma and Zara are the first stores scheduled to open in Block 37.

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At long last, Block 37 is open.

Given the history of the site, that might just be great news for Chicago.

A Puma store, a trendy Zara clothing shop, and a couple of other stores opened Friday at the mall on State Street, between Randolph and Washington. And this is no small feat. It's been exactly 20 years since the block was demolished with the intent to redevelop it.

Since then, cost overruns and lawsuits -- i.e. just general Chicago business -- have slowed development on the property. Why, just last week, Block 37's developer sued Bank of America, accusing the mega-bank of faking reasons to foreclose on the project just as it was about to open, so the bank could profit from it. Bank of America said the developer owes nearly $130 million because of, what else, cost overruns.

But the block has been through this kind of turmoil before. It's one of the city's original blocks from 1830, and its rise, fall, and rise again have mirrored the life of Chicago over the years.

So now that Block 37 is seeing a renaissance, with a Godiva Chocolatier already open and plenty more stores to come, does that mean Chicago, too, is on the mend? Only time and the courts will tell.

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