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Block 37 cream puff shop, Beard Papa’s, shuts down

1-6-10 A new trefor chicago newest locatiBlock 37 pedway / 108 N. State st. Here: Beard Papa's 'fresh'n natural cream

1-6-10 A new treat for chicago, and in a newest location, Block 37, the pedway / 108 N. State st. Here: Beard Papa's, 'fresh'n natural cream puffs'., aa Japanese-based cream puff.. owners: l-r Daishin Sugano and Eddy Lu at their new store. (photo by john h white/chicago sun-times)

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Updated: December 30, 2012 3:55PM

One of the oldest stores in the Block 37 development downtown has closed abruptly, underscoring the property’s difficulties in filling its retail space.

The closure was Beard Papa’s, a Japanese-based seller of cream puffs that had space in the pedway that connects the CTA’s Red and Blue lines. People familiar with the property said the Monday shutdown was the third recent failure of a snack retailer in the pedway, with the others being Auntie Anne’s pretzels and Andy’s Frozen Custard.

Block 37 opened in late 2009, with Beard Papa’s among the tenants. The five-story retail site at 108 N. State remains about 70 percent vacant seven months into its purchase by the Los Angeles investment firm CIM Group.

A CIM executive working at the property declined to comment. Muginho International Inc., which franchises the concept, could not be reached.

Sources said Block 37 is dealing with tenant turnover because some sellers of snacks and sweets opened in the pedway in the expectation that a CTA “superstation” would be built there. That project has been put on hold because of funding.

As a result, the pedway has drawn insufficient foot traffic, especially from children, to justify certain kinds of stores, retail sources said.

One expert commented that Beard Papa’s would be better suited for Navy Pier or the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

The store’s franchisee announced the closure via a Twitter account. One fan asked if a new location would be found and the person from the store replied, “We’re not sure.”

CIM Group bought Block 37 from Bank of America Corp., which foreclosed on the property. The ownership flux and recession caused several large tenants to end talks for space on the upper floors.

They include Teatro ZinZanni, a Seattle-based performance theater troupe, the Muvico movie theater chain and a restaurant backed by the owners of Chicago’s Gibsons steakhouse.

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