Chicago Spire developer finds a backer

Feb. 8, 2014 at 1:15 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Bankrupt building development firm Shelbourne Development Group says it has the funds to resume construction of the Chicago Spire, which was suspended in 2008.

Construction of the tower, which was expected to be the tallest free-standing building in the Western Hemisphere, was halted during the financial crisis, just before the economy tanked.

Shelbourne has found a backer, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

The firm, headed by Irish developer Garrett Kelleher, said in court papers it had security $135 million in funding from development and property management firm Atlas Apartment Holdings LLC, based in Chicago.

"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," Kelleher said in a statement.

Atlas Chief Executive Officer Steven Ivankovich said the project would restore Chicago's claim as a haven for architectural wonders.

"I'm a Chicago guy. I want to see Chicago regain its architectural crown. It's the greatest piece of development land I've ever seen," Ivankovich said.

Although about a third of the building space had been sold -- luxury condominiums ranging in price from $700,000 to $40 million -- construction was halted with little more than a 76-foot by 110-foot hole dug in the ground, the Tribune said.

The most expensive condominium sold was a $40 million suite purchased by billionaire Ty Warner, founder of Beanie Babies.

"Obviously, there was demand for what we were selling there," said Michael Golden, co-founder of @properties, the agency with an exclusive on Spire marketing.

"There's a definite hole in the marketplace right now for luxury product," Golden said.

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