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 beginning 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-foot-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 to everything.
Crisis ensued, lawsuits followed, and momentum collapsed before the mighty tower had risen an inch above ground level.
The excavated hole was then 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 labeled 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 Related Midwest plan to begin working 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).
Then, in 2020 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 citing the potential impact they would have on the neighborhood and issues of security while also rejecting 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 2020’s municipal approvals the glass and aluminum-wrapped sister towers were then heading toward construction until plans to kick off the project in 2021 were then halted by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, its groundbreaking is planned to begin in the coming weeks with life back to normal.
The plan is, reportedly, to work on each tower independently, starting with the northern tower first in 2023 and then moving on to the southern tower once the first tower is complete. The project will also see the revitalization of the adjacent, 3.3-acre undeveloped DuSable Park east of Lake Shore Drive which will begin after the towers are complete.
The Chicago Tribune previously reported that the project’s first phase was planned to take over 3 years with the second phase lasting more than a year though the target completion date listed on a Related Midwest webpage dedicated to the 400 Lake Shore Drive project still reads “completion by 2024”.
Taking into account the more than two-year delay from when Related Midwest first announced the project and with such a tumultuous planning past, it is safe to assume that this long-awaited endeavor won’t be complete any time before 2026 but we wait to see how construction unfolds.
[Featured Image from Twitter / @BlairKamin]