Despite a foreclosure lawsuit, developers of Chicago’s Block 37, which includes a 285,000-square-foot retail component, are pushing to open a section of the center before Thanksgiving. Zara, Anthropologie, Puma, Steve Madden and Swarovski are among the stores.

This story first appeared in the November 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Last month, a group of banks led by Bank of America filed suit against developer Joseph Freed & Associates LLC charging the company defaulted on $128.5 million. A Cook County Circuit Court judge Monday set a hearing for Nov. 20 on the banks’ request to put the project in receivership.

Joseph Freed, which called the suit a “misguided action that could halt the project,” said it has signed leases with 13 new tenants including Sephora, L’Occitane and local specialty stores Michelle Tan and Claudia Kleiner Malabar Collection, which would be in a later phase of the project at 108 North State Street.

The block opposite Macy’s on State Street has been so troubled some have called it jinxed, and Block 37 has shifted from developer to developer since the site was razed in 1989.

“This is not an easy project and never has been,” Joseph Freed & Associates said. Noting it took over the troubled proposal in April 2007, the company said it “built the physical structure for this development and we have tenants committed for more than 70 percent of the project, substantially better results than any previous developer has had with this project in the last 25 years, and a remarkable achievement given today’s retail environment.”

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