Wednesday 12 November 2008

Chicago Spire Halts Construction

It would appear that Garrett Kelleher's dreams of building the most stunning building on the Chicago skyline are rapidly tumbling to earth.

Launched in a blaze of glory earlier this year by Irish agent Savills HOK (now just Savills) the Chicago Spire tower, which featured lake view apartments from €500k, looks like it is going to be no more than a big hole in the ground for the foreseeable future. And boy is it a big hole at 76 feet deep by 110 feet wide.

Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune reports that spokesperson for the developer, Kim Metcalfe, has said that the construction will go ahead, but no commitment was made as to when this might happen.

The cracks started to show even before the launch tour for the project had completed last spring. As far back as last March Kelleher's Shelbourne Developments failed to pay nearly $430,000 in property taxes due on the proposed site.

Mind you, Kelleher is in good company, although that may not be much consolation, it looks like his isn't the only project that has ground to a halt recently.

According to project spokesperson Kim Metcalfe, Kelleher has spent at least $50 million on construction. She says that this investment is evidence that work on the project will resume and that it will open as scheduled in 2012. This would, however, look like wishful thinking, as there is an estimated 10,000 new condo units scheduled to become available in Chicago by the end of 2009 with no market to absorb them.

The Spire project is bedeviled with problems at the moment as its star architect, Santiago Calatrava, recently filed a lien on the property seeking more than $11.3 million in payment from the developer. The Perkins & Will architecture firm has also filed a $4.85 million lien against both Shelbourne and Calatrava's Festina Lente Ltd.

Foreign woes are starting to become somewhat of a recurring story for Irish agents and developers as high profile companies such as Harcourt Developments, Paddy Kelly, Simple Overseas Properties, KenDar Holdings, KMS, Larionovo, Pruntys Overseas Properties and France First have all run into problems overseas in the recent past.

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