Irish developer’s Chicago Spire project may yet be revived

The 150-floor edifice would rank as the second tallest building in world

An Irish developer’s abortive plan to build the world’s tallest residential building in Chicago may yet be revived.

Garret Kelleher's Chicago Spire project, a 2,000-foot twisted drill-bit designed by world famous architect Santiago Calatrava, stalled in 2008 after Anglo Irish Bank called in the loans made to his development company, Shelbourne Developments.

However, Mr Kelleher recently secured additional funding for the scheme from a US company which he hopes will restart the project.

His lawyers last night filed a motion for approval of the new investment plan with a US bankruptcy court.


Under the plan, Chicago-based Atlas Apartment Holdings will commit $135 million to the project, which Shelbourne said will allow it to pay its creditors in full.

However, the proposals must still be approved by the court.

“Given the ongoing recovery in the Chicago property market, the timing is better now than when this project commenced. I am delighted to have found a partner who believes in the project as passionately as I do,” Mr Kelleher said.

Atlas chief executive Steven Ivankovich added: "We have been working with Garrett over the past several months and now share his belief and vision in the Chicago Spire. This is a building that deserves to be built and built in Chicago. Atlas is committed to making this happen."

Prior to the recession, the vertical foundations of the tower - which is located at the mouth of the Chicago river on the shores of Lake Michigan - and its underground garage had been completed, as had the ramps to lower Lake Shore Drive.

On foot of legal action by Anglo in 2010, control of the site was placed in the hands of a receiver .

Shelbourne’s loans were eventually acquired by Nama and last year sold to the North American investment vehicle, Related Midwest.

However, Mr Kelleher’s company Shelbourne retained an interest in the project.

The 150-floor edifice, if constructed, would rank as the second tallest building in the world, surpassed only by the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai.

Tom Villanova, head of the Chicago Building Trades Council, said: "We have been waiting for this day. We look forward to a project that will provide over 15,000 construction jobs. Restarting this project will be a game changer for Chicago."

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times