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Wanda Tower Lauded by Rahm at Intersection of Business, River Development

By  Josh McGhee and Ted Cox | December 18, 2014 8:39am | Updated on December 18, 2014 12:29pm

 Wanda Group and Magellan Development plan to sign an agreement Thursday on the skyscraper.
$900 Million Lakeshore East Tower
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DOWNTOWN — A massive 88-story condo and hotel building designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang is heading to Lakeshore East.

The Wanda Vista Hotel and Residence will be 1,148 feet tall, which would make it the third-tallest in the city after the Willis Tower, at 1,729 feet, and Trump Tower, at 1,362 feet including its spire.

The Beijing-based Wanda Group plans to invest $900 million into the project, which would include a five-star hotel with some 250 rooms, 390 condos and roughly 9,000 feet of retail space, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. The building would have views of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan and the skyline.

"The size of the skyscraper is only matched and equaled by the size of the statement it makes," Emanuel said Thursday at a signing ceremony at the Gang-designed Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. He called it "a great building" designed by "a great, great architect."

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands with architect Jeanne Gang, developer Joel Carlins and a rendering of what's being called Wanda Tower at Thursday's signing ceremony.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands with architect Jeanne Gang, developer Joel Carlins and a rendering of what's being called Wanda Tower at Thursday's signing ceremony.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Emanuel said it was also "a vote of confidence in the City of Chicago," as it's an intersection point between two of his main initiatives: building trade and cultural bonds with China, and developing the river as "the next recreational frontier" for the city.

The skyscraper is planned to arise out of the dirt at the intersection of North Field Boulevard and Wacker Drive and will create 2,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs after it breaks ground in 2016, according to a statement by the mayor's office.

Emanuel said it built on a trade pact signed a year ago with eight Chinese cities, and that it also built on the $1 billion in recent development along the river Downtown after he expanded the Riverwalk.

"The public investment has resulted in a series of private investments," he said.

Emanuel added that he had no concern about oversaturating the Chicago hotel market, as Wanda had studied that and found it a good investment, and that he expected that investment to flow into Chicago's neighborhoods through the jobs created. He said it included no city tax breaks or Tax Increment Finance funding.

The Wanda Group and the Chicago-based Magellan Development Group signed an agreement Thursday clearing the way for the project. It is expected to be the largest real estate investment by a Chinese company in Chicago and one of the largest in the United States, according to the mayor's office. It's also expected to be a draw for Chinese tourism.

Gang, of Studio Gang Architects, is designing the building in collaboration with bKL Architecture LLC, the mayor's office said.

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