Developer Kelleher in bid to restart building of Chicago Spire
Developer Garrett Kelleher is vying to restart construction at a site in Chicago where he originally planned to build one of the world's tallest buildings – the $2bn (€1.5bn) Spire.
The businessman, spotted in Dublin yesterday, is understood to have been in contact with NAMA about acquiring the near-$93m (€72m) debt that the state body now owns and which is attached to the site.
NAMA declined to comment yesterday, while Mr Kelleher, below, wasn't contactable.
Mr Kelleher's Shelbourne Development launched an ambitious plan in 2007 to construct the 2,000ft, 150-storey Spire. But while a 76ft-deep hole was dug on the site, the project stalled in 2008 amid the economic crisis.
He had hired Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to design the striking building. However, that relationship soured after Mr Calatrava filed a lawsuit against Shelbourne in 2008 claiming he was still owed €11m for his work on the project.
In 2010, Mr Kelleher lost control of the Spire site after Anglo Irish Bank secured the appointment of a receiver to it. While NAMA owns the debt attached to the site, Mr Kelleher retains title to the land.
He had originally borrowed about $70m from Anglo to buy the land, but the amount owed has since risen to $93m.
In March, NAMA began marketing the debt attached to the site through Jones Lang LaSalle and first-round bids have recently been received.
While the expectations are that the Spire in its original format will not be constructed by whoever gains control of the loans, there is the possibility that a scaled-down tower could be built. The site has planning permission for 1,200 apartments. There's no indication of when the debt sale process will be completed.
Mr Kelleher was a significant developer in Ireland during the last decade.
In 2011, receivers were appointed by Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to some properties owned by Mr Kelleher's Shelbourne Development. They included two office blocks on St Stephen's Green in Dublin, which had about €200m of loans attached to them.