Category: Archive

Hole symbolizes a lofty plan on hold

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

That’s because the Chicago Spire, his planned mega-condominium development in the Windy City, is stuck firmly at ground level right now.
And the furor in Ireland surrounding Anglo Irish Bank, which is being taken over by the Irish government after the resignation of its top executives and a share price collapse, is casting further doubt over the project which envisages a residential tower of 150 stories on the Lake Michigan waterfront.
Currently, all there is to show for the spire plan is a construction site and a very large circular hole in a slice of some of the world’s priciest real estate.
Anglo Irish, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, has specialized in commercial lending and is a symbol of Ireland’s boom-and-bust economy.
“It also had a taste for speculative development overseas. It opened an office in Chicago to handle business here,” the Sun Times report added.
And it continued: “Spire developer Garrett Kelleher, executive chairman of Shelbourne Development Ltd., used private funding assurances from Anglo Irish to persuade Mayor Daley’s administration to grant zoning approval for the project in 2007. Kelleher had said Anglo Irish’s commitment was almost open-ended and required no threshold of condominium sales before it would underwrite construction.”
The report went on to state that property records showed that Shelbourne had drawn $69.5 million from Anglo Irish for the early stages of construction at the Spire address, 400 North Lake Shore Drive.
“But work has been stopped, and Shelbourne has been hit with several liens from contractors, including one from his (Kelleher’s) own celebrity architect, Santiago Calatrava. Though the building has been marketed almost as a Calatrava artwork, the architect alleges Kelleher owes him $11.34 million.”
Citing sources, the report said that Kelleher has been looking for other investors to help get construction restarted, but suggested this was not going to be easy in the present worldwide property market.
“If Kelleher can’t raise money from Anglo Irish, it becomes more likely that he will default or lose control of the project. Shelbourne has said that about a third of the spire’s 1,200 condos are under contract, but experts wonder if those buyers will be able to close,” the Sun Times report said.
Should it be ultimately built, the Chicago Spire, at 2,000 feet, will not just be the world’s tallest residential structure, but the highest building of any kind in the U.S. on its 2.2 acre site at 76 feet deep and 110 feet wide.
The Irish government signaled its intention to take complete control of Anglo Irish Bank last week, saying its previous plan to inject money into the bank was not the best way to secure its viability.
That earlier plan envisaged a

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