Business

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Irish developer's dream to build Chicago Spire back on track

Published 07/02/2014 | 13:28

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The planned Chicago Spire
The planned Chicago Spire

GARRETT Kelleher’s dream to build the western world’s tallest building is back on track.

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The Chicago Spire, the building dreamed up by Irish developer Kelleher and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava near the delta of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, has secured €135m from a US company which should enable work to recommence.

If completed, the 2,000 foot residential building will be the tallest in North America.

Its foundations have laid untouched for several years, after work ground to a halt when Kelleher’s company Shelbourne defaulted on a large loan from Anglo Irish Bank in 2009. The site, which looks like a deep hole in the earth, is known by locals as “The Bathtub.”

Shelbourne’s loans were eventually acquired by NAMA and later sold to RMW Acquisition, an affiliate of billionaire Stephen Ross's real estate development business Related Companies. Kelleher’s company Shelbourne retained an interest in the project.

Now the Irish developer has found an investor willing to kickstart the project. Chicago-based Atlas Apartment Holdings will commit €135m to the project, which Shelbourne said will allow it to pay its creditors in full.

The proposals must still be approved by a US bankruptcy court. If successful, the project could generate as many as 15,000 US construction jobs.

“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” said Kelleher.

Belvedere College and Trinity graduate Kelleher was one of the most prolific developers in Celtic Tiger Ireland.

Properties he developed include two office blocks on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, which later went into receivership.

He is also is the owner of the Irish football club Saint Patrick's Athletic FC.

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