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.