Social media was abuzz recently over the reports by eavesdrop, the WSJ, and other major papers about the biggest recession scab over Chicago: the failed Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. That Irish pie in the sky developer apparently found someone to bail the project out of its foreclosure. Everyone was all, “It’s back on!” Dear readers, until they start pumping the water out of the big hole in the ground, Eavesdrop is betting against this one.
From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. Read More
The Chicago skyline is one of the most impressive in the country. Those who dreamed of a twisting new tower at its pinnacle, however, will have to turn to new skyscraping schemes. The Anglo Irish Bank is seizing control of the stalled Chicago Spire’s site from Shelbourne Development. This detailed feature on the rise and fall of Santiago Calatrava’s unbuilt tower in the Irish Independent calls the project’s developer, Garrett Kelleher, emblematic of the jet-setting “Irish Tiger.” In today’s real estate environment, that label sounds more like slur than a compliment.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, major construction unions will not be loaning funds to restart the Chicago Spire, as many had speculated. The union pension funds are feeling cautious, much like other lenders, so the Spire, which was always an ambitious project, remains a high risk bet. Who will the developers turn to next?
First reported in the Chicago Tribune, and today in the Wall Street Journal, officials at a group of union pension funds are vetting a plan to lend $170 million to restart construction on the stalled Chicago Spire. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the 150 story residential tower would be the tallest building in the US. The Journal piece points out that with a drastic drop off in condo construction downtown predicted for 2010 and 2011, the completion of the Spire could actually come at a time when there is pent up demand for housing. Blair Kamin previously pointed out that unions have made similar loans in previous downturns, notably providing loans for the construction of Marina City.
According to the Journal, Chicago’s failure to win the 2016 Olympics may have been the key to giving the Spire new life. The pensions had previously been looking to lend funds for the construction of the planned Olympic Village.