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CHICAGO-The Mills Corp., based in Chevy Chase, MD, has broken ground on the retail and CTA transit portions of the 108 N. State St. project. This phase includes 265,000 sf of dining and entertainment space. To meet the opening date of fall 2008, the company has already purchased several long-lead-time materials, including structural steel, elevators, escalators and the glass-curtain wall system.

Construction of the first phase, which includes an office tower for CBS 2 Chicago Broadcast Center and Morningstar Inc., began in November 2005. With the foundation and concrete slabs supporting the tower at 75% complete, the tower will begin to take shape in October.

The development, formerly known as Block 37, will feature approximately 400,000 sf of retail, entertainment and dining offerings; 200,000 sf to 450,000 sf of office space, a 200- to 300-room hotel, a 200- to 300-unit residential tower, and a CTA transit station providing service to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

The company has been exploring a sale after it was announced the company was under investigation by the SEC for accounting flaws. June 14 was the final day companies interested in either buying or investing in the Mills Corp., a REIT that controls 42 regional malls. According an SEC filing, it had entered into confidentiality agreements with more than 30 potential buyers and investors. Vornado Realty Trust and the Westfield Group have been mentioned as possible suitors.

In May, the company announced it was receiving up to $2.23 billion in financing from Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co.—most of which will be used to pay off portions of the REIT’s debt. About $385 million will go toward “working capital requirements and general corporate purposes,” according to a company statement.

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