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Spire Developer Leaves Chicago Offices

Report: Shelbourne Development Was Facing Eviction
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The worksite for the Chicago Spire skyscraper sits abandoned (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The worksite for the Chicago Spire skyscraper sits abandoned (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) - With the dream of building the soaring Chicago Spire all but dead, the developer behind the project has left its downtown offices.

Shelbourne Development Group Inc. moved out of its 6,700 square-foot space at 111 S. Wacker Dr., where the company had been located for the past four years, according to Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily.

The company owes $27,600 in back rent, according to Crain’s, which quoted an Oct. 7 eviction complaint.

But attorneys representing the development company said company moved out was due to a rent dispute, not the threat of eviction, according to Crain’s.

The owners of the Wacker Drive building also tried to evict Shelbourne in February, according to Crain’s. Six months ago, the developer also closed its sales office for the project at the NBC Tower, 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr., after settling another eviction lawsuit, Crain’s reported.

Shelbourne and its chairman, Garrett Kelleher, were behind the plans to construct the 2,000-foot Chicago Spire, which was designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava and was supposed to be constructed at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. just north of the Chicago River.

But the project never amounted to more for a broad, round hole that was dug for the foundation. Ground was broken for the building in 2007, but construction was stopped the following year.

After a $77 million foreclosure lawsuit against Shelbourne by Anglo Irish Bank Corp., the plans for the Spire were all but declared dead. The lawsuit claimed that loans made for the project matured a year earlier and were in default.

The plan began to unwind after Calatrava filed a lien on the project, claiming the developer hadn’t paid him $11.34 million he was owed for his work.

Also, the Chicago architectural firm Perkins & Will, hired as a local overseer of the design, filed its own lien, claiming it is owed $4.85 million.

Plans for the Spire were first announced with much fanfare in 2005, and the soaring spiral design won many fans. Calatrava in published reports compared the structure to a smoke spiral rising from a campfire along the Chicago River.

But unlike the John Hancock Center and Sears Tower, which would both be dwarfed by the building, the Chicago Spire did not include any plans for any public restaurants or observatories. The building would have been open only to residents, and that group would have been a select few. The condos in the building were priced from $750,000 to $15 million each.

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