During the mid-2000s, when it seemed any project had a chance of completion, it was common to hear about $1-billion to $2-billion mixed-use development plans. That’s true even in the Midwest, typically a region known for slow and steady growth, as well as its restraint against grandiosity. Then the financial crisis ended the party in 2007, and all the bills came due. When the downturn hit, it became “the decade from hell,” according to a recent joint real estate report, “Expectations & Market Realities in Real Estate 2010,” by Real Estate Research Corp., Holliday Fenoglio Fowler and Real Capital Analytics. In most American cities, these multi-million-dollar, mixed-use complexes were revealed as what they were all along: houses of cards with too much leverage and not enough demand. Nowhere is this truer than in Middle America, which has been hit especially hard by the downturn. Here’s a look at the state of development in three of the Midwest’s major cities.

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