Chicago’s Tallest Skyscraper Now City’s Biggest Hole

June 05, 2010

The other day, I had the pleasure of taking an educational trolley ride around the city with my daughter’s class.

Chicago Real Estate

This looks like a gigantic eye (sore).

Our goofy tour guide pointed out all kinds of Chicago real estate, but it seems like our bus inhabitants snapped the most pictures as we drove by the huge, man-made crater on Lake Shore Drive intended to be the city’s tallest skyscraper.

The Chicago Spire, now a hole in the ground just west of Navy Pier at 440 N. Lake Shore Drive, was designed by Spanish-architect Santiago Calatrava as a twisting, 150-story condominium building that — at 2,000 feet — would have been the tallest residential building in the world.

The economy apparently didn’t go for it. Spire’s developer, Shelbourne Development Group, couldn’t secure financing for a project the city didn’t need, and they found themselves seeped in debt, unpaid bills and lawsuits.

The web site for the project no longer exists. The sales office, which was the entire 18th floor of the NBC Tower, closed a few weeks ago after Shelbourne was sued for unpaid rent. Key players have also stepped off the project, including Shelbourne’s finance director, Emmet O’Reilly, who resigned last month after seven years with the development group.

Chicago Real Estate

It's hard to believe that anyone thought this was a good idea for our fare city in the first place.

Not good signs.

The Chicago Architectural Club recently held a contest called Mine The Gap, asking participants for ideas in covering “one of the most visible scars left after the collapse of the real estate market in Chicago.”

First prize, and winner of $3,500, went to Professor Alex Lehnerer and his team from the University of Illinois at Chicago for their idea to use the hole as a home base for a yellow air balloon carrying a disc-shape swimming pool. The surroundings around the hole would be transformed into a beach setting, and it would be called The Second Sun.

I wonder which project has a better chance of coming to fruition.

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[…] developer has been ordered to pay off some of his debts tied to the tallest parcel of Chicago real estate that never was. The Chicago Spire […]

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