‘A civic embarrassment’: With more than a decade like a hole in the ground, new plans for Chicago Spire site

CHICAGO (SCS) — Fifteen years ago, a world-renowned architect planned to bring the Spire to Chicago, a giant luxury condo building with sky-high prices.

Years later, all there is is a hole in the ground, in a prime spot near the river and lake. Now a new project can actually see the light of day there.

After more than a decade as an empty lot, construction is expected to begin later this year at 400 Lake Shore Drive. CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza explains the new tower project.

“It was a civic embarrassment.”

Before the Great Recession in 2007, there was a first for what was to be the chicago arrow, a twisted 2,000-foot-tall skyscraper. destined to change the skyline of the city.

It never happened.

“It just sat there. An embarrassing giant hole ever since.”

Blair Kamin is the former architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune. In 2014, developer Related Midwest acquired the site offering two sister towers with more than 1,000 luxury apartments in hopes of filling the void.

“They’re trying to form a gateway from the lake to Streeterville and the North Michigan Avenue area,” Kamin said.

The plan received city approval. Then the 2020 pandemic happened. Now, another pickaxe is planned for the end of 2022.

“Nobody likes to see a big hole in the ground, an empty space.”

Meggan Teague has lived in Streeterville for more than a decade and said she’s been staring at empty space for just as long.

“I hope it brings more families and residents to the neighborhood.”

In addition to finally starting this residential project, people who live here have told us they’re even more excited for the planned park across the street.

DuSable Park will not be built until the towers are complete.

“The developers plan to use the park site east of Lake Shore Drive as a construction site,” Kamin said.

The timeline for this is long in coming. CBS 2 received a statement from the developer:

400 Lake Shore Drive will transform the city’s skyline by paying homage to Chicago’s architectural heritage through two meticulously designed residential towers. The Midwest has a long history of building state-of-the-art housing in Streeterville, including 500 Lake Shore Drive and One Bennett Park and an upscale 2-acre park for all the neighbors to gather and enjoy.

In addition to residential properties, Related Midwest is working with the Chicago Park District and has donated $10 million to build DuSable Park and DuSable Founders Way, which will complement the Michigan Avenue pedestrian experience at Navy Pier. Construction will begin this year and will create more than 2,600 jobs for local residents.


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