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Battle for Control Over Property Slated for Hotel Development Adjacent
Chicago's McCormick Place Held Over to 2013

Bankruptcy Judge Gives Property Owners More Time to Show Financial Viability

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 27, 2012--The lengthy battle for control over property slated for hotel development adjacent to McCormick Place will extend into 2013 after a federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday gave the long-time property owners more time to show their plans have financial viability.

Judge Jack Schmetterer this month had given Olde Prairie Block Owner LLC until Thursday to show him it had plausible plans to repay its lenders, chief among them CenterPoint Properties Trust.

Olde Prairie, whose principals include Pamela Gleichman, her husband, Karl Norberg, and Gunnar Falk, have proposed selling portions of the properties for hotel development, with two deals projected to bring in $180 million. The developers said this would be sufficient to pay back lenders in full and develop the properties.

The lender, CenterPoint Properties Trust, contends the plan is not financially viable, in part because the sales agreements contained contingencies. As well, it argued that the structure of the deals would not provide sufficient funds to fully repay lenders.

Schmetterer gave Olde Prairie until Jan. 10 to show the potential buyer of the larger parcel had a firm financing commitment. He also is seeking greater clarity in the sales contract language.

The case has been closely watched because it involves parcels long eyed for development linked to McCormick Place. Speculation has swirled around possibilities,from hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, including a possible casino, to an arena that could host the DePaul men's basketball team as well as corporate and religious assemblies.

The properties include a 3.67-acre parcel at 330 E. Cermak Rd., directly north of the administrative offices of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the state-city agency that owns McCormick Place, and a 1.23-acre parcel directly west of it at 230 E. Cermak, across the street from the center's West Building.

The authority, known as McPier, this month purchased a separate parcel on the 230 E. Cermak block, with an eye toward gathering enough property to expand hotel, restaurant and entertainment amenities near the convention campus.


(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune

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