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Block 37 To Add 34-Story Apartment Tower

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than two years after a new owner took over the Block 37 mall in the Loop, the shopping center is much closer to filling its available space, and construction soon will begin on a 34-story 690-unit apartment tower along Randolph Street.

CIM Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate firm, announced it has secured the first permits to build the apartment tower above the five-story shopping mall that sits on the block between Daley Plaza and Macy's.

Although the original owners of Block 37 planned also planned a hotel tower in addition to the shopping mall and apartments, CIM said the apartment tower would be the final phase of development for the site.

A spokeswoman for CIM said construction barricades for the apartment tower could go up as soon as this weekend. The tower will include a fifth floor deck with an outdoor pool and spa, another spa on the roof, and "other top-tier amenities and services," according to a release from CIM.

Tower at Block 37
Rendering of the proposed 34-story apartment tower at Block 37. (Credit: CIM Group)

CIM bought Block 37 from Bank of America in April 2012, after the bank seized the property from the previous owner, Joseph Freed & Associates LLC, as part of a foreclosure lawsuit.

A year after the foreclosure, the original developer Lawrence Freed and his company's vice president, Caroline Walters, were indicted by federal p rosecutors for allegedly whitewashing the books to get loans and city funds for Block 37.

"They were telling lies in order to get TIF payments from the city of Chicago they weren't entitled to," Assistant U.S. Atty. Renato Mariotti said at the time.

Block 37 struggled to fill its retail space after first opening in November 2009, and as recently as 2012, only 30 percent of the store space was leased, but has gradually improved under CIM. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the mall is now 75 percent leased, including two high-profile restaurateurs. Denver-based celebrity chef Richard Sandoval has leased 22,000 square feet on the third floor for a new food court. Chicago's Lawless family, owners of the Gage and Henri restaurants, have leased 5,500 square feet at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn for another restaurant. Opening dates have not yet been announced for either the food court or the Lawless restaurant.

In addition to the new food court and restaurant, CIM reportedly is in talks to lease the fourth floor of the mall to open a long-awaited movie theater and health club.

CBS 2 television studios are based at Block 37.

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