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Inferno Warehouse Owned by Jailed Developer

By Casey Cora | January 24, 2013 2:29pm | Updated on January 24, 2013 2:56pm

BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport warehouse where firefighters have worked around the clock battling ice and flames is owned by a developer whose bribery attempts landed him and a former West Side alderman in prison, records show.

Calvin Boender, 58, listed on state documents as the president of North Development Ltd., owns the vacant warehouse at 3757 S. Ashland Ave.

Boender was caught in a bribery scandal that put former Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers (29th) behind bars.

Prosecutors said Boender gave Carothers about $40,000 worth of free home improvements and White Sox playoff tickets in exchange for his support of zoning rule changes to accommodate a planned West Side development.

Carothers was convicted on bribery and tax charges and sentenced to 28 months in prison. Boender was convicted in 2010 of bribery and obstruction of justice charges and is serving a 46-month sentence in a federal prison in northeastern Kentucky.

At the time of Boender's indictment, federal prosecutors listed one of Boender's several companies as Grand Central Center for Business LLC of Elmhurst. Records show North Development operates out of the same address.

Contacted by a DNAinfo.com reporter Thursday, a woman who answered the phone at North Development hung up. On a follow-up phone call, the woman said the company did not have an email address to forward inquiries.

The company's website is not operational, but an Internet archive shows it specializes in “agricultural and commercial real estate, along with diversification in commodity assets and publicly traded stocks.”

Company attorney Michael O’Connor, with Fuchs & Roselli, declined to comment.

The warehouse caught fire about 9 p.m. Tuesday, prompting one of the largest Chicago Fire Department responses in recent history.

The building is situated in an area once known as the Chicago Manufacturing District, a 400-acre plot in the McKinley Park neighborhood once touted for its giant warehouses and easy access from street cars and freight railways.

Since late Tuesday, crews have battled subzero wind chill temperatures that have created hazardous firefighting conditions and left the five-story building’s skeleton covered in thick sheets of ice.

The fire reignited early Thursday, and crews are expected to be battling the smoldering fire for days.

The cause of the blaze is unknown, and officials haven't ruled out that it could have been started by squatters, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

City building spokeswoman Susan Massel said the structure "is not salvageable" and that plans are underway for a demolition, though it would be handled by a private company and not the city.