The abandoned potential of the Chicago Spire hole might finally be filled!
The Chicago Spire hole was born from a disintegrated dream. Once upon a time, it was the beginnings of what was to become the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. A 2,000 feet tall tower was to shoot up from 400 North Lake Shore Drive, piercing the clouds and offering more than 150 floors of unique potential. Designed by the Spanish architect, engineer, and sculptor, Santiago Calatrava, and funded by Christopher Carley’s Fordham Company, the dream of a modern wonder with celestial amenities never materialized.
The ultra-lavish project was unanimously backed in 2005 and, though it was soon sold to Irish real estate developer Garrett Kelleher, it was consistently urged on with rigor and excitement. Some of the most expensive pre-sale prices for studios and flats that Chicago has ever seen were being snapped up and a $40 million two-level penthouse towards the top of the tower quickly found an owner in Beanie Babies creator Ty Warner.
The ambition, enthusiasm, and dedication that had inspired the dream then met a stumbling block. 2007 had seen the excavation of a 78-foot-deep and 75-food-wide hole where the core of the building would begin, but the global economic crisis in 2008 shattered the financial support and put a stop on everything. Crisis ensued, lawsuits followed, and momentum collapsed before the mighty tower had risen an inch above ground level.
The excavated hole was abandoned, and there it has since remained. In 2014 the nine-year-old project was formally brought to a close when Kelleher handed it over to Related Midwest despite attempts to keep the dream alive.
Over the years the Chicago Spire hole has been labelled a civic embarrassment and ‘a pockmark’, it has been the source of jokes, and of semi-ironic proposals. The neglected and satirical landmark, however, might finally be filled as this year Related Midwest will start work on the site’s new project.
That project is one of two sister towers boasting terracotta accents and intricate metal detailing designed to resemble a waterfall. Related Midwest’s website reads that each tower will offer “expansive outdoor terraces that extend individual residences beyond their walls.”
In 2018, Related Midwest revealed plans to build two skyscrapers on the abandoned Chicago Spire site with the help of architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM). Last year David Childs of SOM was forced to adapt original designs and put forward a new plan after Chicago Alderman Brenda Reilly halted the development of the skyscrapers. Reilly cited the potential impact they would have on the neighborhood, issues of security, and rejected the inclusion of boutique hotel rooms altogether.
Childs and SOM then rectified plans and proposed new heights for the two towers. The South Tower was reduced by over 300 feet from 1,100 feet to a new height of 765 feet, the North Tower received a slight increase from 850 feet to 875 feet, and they will instead be entirely residential buildings with a total of 1100 luxury compartments. With last year’s municipal approvals the glass and aluminum-wrapped sister towers are now heading toward construction.
The plan is, reportedly, to work on each tower independently, starting with the northern tower first early this year and then move onto the southern tower once the first tower is complete. 2023 is said to be the target completion date for the exciting new project but with such an ill-fated past we wait to see how construction unfolds.