Here's the Deal: The Buying and Selling of a Great American City

Ross Miller, Author
Ross Miller, Author Alfred A. Knopf $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-58999-2
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Hardcover - 978-0-517-19479-9
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-8101-2037-2
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A vacant, three-acre block sits in the heart of downtown Chicago, still a gaping chasm six years after its ""mad mix of high and low"" stores, professional offices, retailers, theaters and seedy enterprises were demolished to make way for skyscrapers and gleaming emporiums. In an involving cautionary tale of greed, wheeling and dealing and shameful neglect of the public interest, Miller (American Apocalypse: The Great Fire and the Myth of Chicago) traces the seeds of this fiasco to Mayor Richard Daley, who, beginning in the 1960s, endorsed the bulldozing of once-vital neighborhoods. The author faults a series of six regimes, including those of Chicago's first female mayor, Jane Byrne, and its first black chief executive, Harold Washington, for devising the category ""economic blight,"" which permitted them to condemn commercial property, remove title from its owners and trade the property to speculators and land pirates who promised jobs and fatter tax rolls. FJV, the company committed to develop Block 37 since 1983, took seven years to get started after protests and lawsuits from preservationists, but the project, according to Miller, fell victim to the office building glut, the overdevelopment craze and a credit crunch. Photos. (Feb.)
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