Unions Push to Finish Tallest Tower in Chicago

The 2,000 foot planned condo tower, designed by Calatrava, has been stuck at hole-in-the-ground status for a while now. [Wikipedia has a few photos, including this one]. Wonder if this latest surge will help complete the project?

[artist’s rendition of the Spire, via Wikipedia]

The stalled construction of North America’s tallest building, a 150-story luxury residential tower planned for downtown, may get a boost from unionized construction workers desperate for jobs.

Any effort to save the Chicago Spire faces major hurdles, especially coming after a real-estate glut that flooded Chicago with new condos. Plans call for the 2,000-foot-high Spire to have nearly 1,200 units — more than are expected to be completed for the entire downtown area in 2010. Prices start at $750,000, with the bulk of the condos costing $2 million to $15 million.

Workers broke ground with great fanfare in 2007, but the project stalled last year amid the financial crisis when funding dried up. That left many doubtful that the Santiago Calatrava-designed tower would ever emerge from the circular foundation that sits about a block from Lake Michigan.

Now a group of union pension funds is conducting due diligence on a plan to lend $170 million to Irish developer Shelbourne Development Group, said Tom Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 24 unions with some 100,000 members.[Click to continue reading Push to Finish Tallest Tower – WSJ.com]
[Non-WSJ subscribers use this Digg-enabled link]

The Chicago Spire website is a flash-centric p.o.s., but if flash annoys you less than it annoys me, browse the Chicago Spire website here for lots of photos, descriptions and the like.

and the failed Olympics bid continues to have a ripple effect on the Chicago economy:

The Spire got an unlikely break in early October with the demise of Chicago’s hopes to host the 2016 Olympics. Mr. Villanova, who was on Chicago’s Olympic bid committee, said the unions had committed to help fund the Olympic Village to house athletes. “When that went south on us, we started focusing on the Spire project,” he said.

After cranking out an average of 4,500 new condo units a year downtown for the past four years, Chicago developers expect to complete 900 units next year and fewer than 100 in 2012, said Gail Lissner, vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago appraisal and consulting firm. “We don’t see cranes in the sky anymore,” Ms. Lisser said, which could mean the Spire would arrive in a much-changed market in four or five years.

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