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Struggling Loop Mall Could Be Singing Blues Of Another Variety

A Chicago blues musician. (CBS)

A Chicago blues musician. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Block-37 on State Street, a big downtown shopping mall, isn’t doing very well, with only 30 percent occupancy.

And the merchants are singing the blues — just the kind of music that may turn things around.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

Buddy Guy’s Legends has long been a destination for blues lovers, attracting both locals and tourists.

And since people go there to listen to the blues, two local executives think blues lovers will also go to Block 37.

Their proposal calls for an entrance on the corner of Randolph and Dearborn and a blues museum, a nightclub and musical classrooms on the upper floors of the building.

Paul Swinand, retail analyst with Morningstar, says it could work.

“Obviously, the blues is something Chicago is known for,” he said. “I think this brand actually does fit.”

If the brand works, Swinand says people will visit the mall and shop at other stores. And the increased traffic will make it easier to fill the 70 percent of the mall that’s still empty.

But is the blues in the Loop enough of a draw?

Breezy Rodio, a local blues musician, is not convinced.

“A few years ago the clubs were packed,” he said. “But now you barely see blues club packed.”

But if they build it, visitors say, it had better be special.

Experts think the idea of a blues museum in a mall is a unique one that could also attract visitors. For now, the proposal is just that.

The owners and managers of the mall declined comment.