It’s nearing the silver anniversary of the day I sold the leaning office tower on Block 37 that I owned for a split-second. Older Chicagoans will remember the building for its southward tilt and its ground floor tenant, Mayors Row Restaurant, which held many a federally wiretapped booth – the building was directly across from the Daley Center.
I didn’t “own” the building at 127 North Dearborn outright, but held a master lease with an option to purchase that triggered on the death of Art Laski, who was then 95 and slated to expire, I gambled, some time before the expiration of my 99-year master lease.
I flipped my rights to Sam Zell for a tidy profit. Zell sold to the Levy (think Larry and what was his name) brothers a year later for a much tidier profit. The Levys already owned a piece of the block and were trying to assemble the whole.
Block 37 as an urban renewal construct predated my interest in it by a number of years – so over 25 years have elapsed in the current saga.
If you’re interested in an informative read on high-stakes Chicago real estate, and a heap of background on Block 37, check out “Here’s the Deal: the Making and Breaking of a Great American City.”
It would be right and fitting for actual development to start on the 37th anniversary of the adoption of what was then called the North Loop Urban Renewal Plan, which encompassed Block 37.
Does anyone out there know that anniversary?