Block 37 Is Like the Cubs:Cursed

New developer may step in

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    NEWSLETTERS

    WMAQ
    Block 37 is perpetually troubled.

    Like each successive Cubs manager with dreams of being the one to break the curse and lead the team to the promised land, noted Chicago developer John Buck might be the next poor soul stepping up to the plate to take a whack at ill-fated Block 37.

    Sources have told Crain's Chicago Business that Bank of America hired Buck's firm last spring as a consultant on the project. The bank filed a foreclosure suit last week, positioning Buck to possibly seize control of the project.

    "What better way to figure out what you're buying than to actually get in there in an advisory role or as manager?" one attorney who specializes in loan workouts and bankruptcies commented to Crain's.

    Buck would be a logical choice if current developer Joseph Freed & Associates can't patch things up with Bank of America. Buck's firm was the runner-up to the city's choice of the previous developer, Mills Corp., in 2002. Buck is also known for developing several downtown office buildings as well as the Shops at North Bridge, anchored by Nordstrom's with an entrance on Michigan Avenue.

    Despite Freed's financial difficulties, the mall portion of the Block 37 project is scheduled to open in a few weeks. About 70 percent of the space is reportedly spoken for.

    But the CTA Superstation under the block is dead, as is a 384-room hotel.

    Someone's got to pick up the pieces; it may as well be Buck.

    A Cook County judge is scheduled to hear Bank of America's motion today to put the project into receivership.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.