Thursday 15 November 2018

New plan unveiled for site of Kelleher's Chicago Spire dream

An artist’s impression of the twin skyscrapers proposed for 400 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago
An artist’s impression of the twin skyscrapers proposed for 400 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

A major US developer has unveiled an ambitious plan to build twin skyscrapers on the site of Irish property tycoon Garrett Kelleher's ill-fated Chicago Spire.

New York-headquartered Related Companies said its proposal for the site, which it now owns, would see the delivery of 850 luxury apartments and a 175-bedroom hotel at 400 Lake Shore Drive by its Chicago subsidiary, Related Midwest.

The scheme's apartments and hotel will be distributed across two towers, which will rise in height to 850 feet and 1,100 feet respectively.

Had Kelleher's own plans for the site not been sundered by the onset of the global financial crisis, he could have laid claim for having delivered the world's tallest residential building, the then tallest building in the western hemisphere, and the then second-tallest building in the world.

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the proposed Chicago Spire was to have risen to 2,000 feet on the last major undeveloped site on Chicago's famed Lake Michigan shoreline.

Today, Kelleher is pursuing a lawsuit seeking damages of $1.2bn (€1bn) against Nama, alleging that the agency destroyed his chances of building the Chicago Spire through a combination of "sheer spite" and "consistent incompetence" on the part of certain of its officials.

Kelleher's company, Shelbourne North Water Street Corporation, blames Nama for the project's demise. In a 60-page complaint lodged earlier this year in the Federal District Court in Illinois, Kelleher cited the agency's refusal to support his plans for the Spire after the crash and the collapse of the scheme's principal funder, Anglo Irish Bank.

US lawyers representing the developer expect a full trial of the case to take place in 2019 following initial procedural hearings, discovery of documents, subpoenas and preparation of affidavits.

As part of its case, Shelbourne expects to subpoena several current and former Nama officials, including chairman Frank Daly, CEO Brendan McDonagh and former head of asset management John Mulcahy. Nama has said it expects to seek a full dismissal of the claim, believing it has no basis.

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