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Plan to Restart Chicago Spire Project Fizzles, Leaving Future in Doubt

By DNAinfo Staff | October 31, 2014 4:24pm | Updated on October 31, 2014 5:46pm
 A developer's plan to restart to build a huge skyskraper on Lake Shore Drive stalled Friday.
A developer's plan to restart to build a huge skyskraper on Lake Shore Drive stalled Friday.
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Flickr/Tom Ravenscrodt

DOWNTOWN — A developer's plan to restart the long-stalled Chicago Spire project on Lake Shore Drive has fizzled.

In an email sent to the city Friday, an attorney for the developer Garrett Kelleher, who had pushed to build the 2,000-foot tower across from Navy Pier, said the company was unable to get a loan to rescue the project from bankruptcy and continue it. Barring a last minute development, that effectively means the project is dead for now. 

"Today is the deadline set by the US Bankruptcy Court for Garrett Kelleher and  [partner] Steve Ivankovich to deposit funds to pay off creditors and bring the Chicago Spire out of Bankruptcy," attorney Tom Murphy said in the email. "Any bridge loan does not seem likely at this point and without an extension, equally unlikely, the property will revert to Related who bought the first mortgage from the Irish government."  

Murphy told DNAinfo Chicago that Friday was the last day to present financing for the project, and that they would have to deposit the money by the end of the day. 

"It does not seem likely that the plan will move forward," Murphy said.

Gail Spreen, head of the Streeterville group SOAR, said she was "very disappointed" to hear the news.

"The Spire was going to be very iconic, with it being tall, thin, basically a landmark and something that would really add to the skyline," Spreen said. "It would have been positive for Streeterville, positive for this city."

Related Management, which holds the debt on the site, has not announced what it would do with the site.

This isn't the first time developers have attempted to resurrect the Spire at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive. The project was also abandoned in 2007. 

In March, Kelleher's Shelbourne Development Company partnered with Atlas Apartment Holdings, LLC to not only revive the tower, but also donate to improve DuSable Park.

Murphy told DNAinfo Chicago in March that plans to revitalize the underutilized waterfront DuSable Park would move forward even if the Chicago Spire didn't get built.

But Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, doesn't feel confident, saying the park is now in "jeopardy."

"It's not a good sign in terms of getting DuSable Park done because the Spire was going to fund $9.6 million of it," O'Neill said. "It needs close to $6 million just do the seawall along the lake and the river there."

He added: "It's a shame that it's right next to Navy Pier, which is going gangbusters right now with all kinds of new landscaping. It's unfortunate news to say the least."

Related Midwest could not immediately be reached for comment.

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