Friday, April 20, 2007

Plan Commission approves Kelleher's Spire


Okay, I'll admit it: I am an unabashed supporter of the Spire project. It is fitting that what I think is the most architecturally significant city in the world have such a project at its very gateway: the lakefront.

Its approval by the Chicago Plan Commission yesterday is, granted, just the first step. City Council still has to approve (does anyone think they'll say no?) and financing has to be finalized, with Anglo-Irish Bank (a somewhat newer but aggressive competitor in our market) leading the way.

If Garrett Kelleher's Shelbourne Development is really putting that much money into the deal, that goes a long way toward getting it done because he can start construction without having his construction financing in place, thus creating momentum even without pre-sales or the usual developer hype. It is a hype of his own, and I like the entrepreneurial moxie associated with it.

Granted, we've seen this before with proposed tall buildings in Chicago together with some spectacular flame-outs that I will not mention again. And Steven Fifield and Greg Merdinger, for reasons I will leave you to discern, are skeptical or incredulous about the credibility of Kelleher to do this project with only his cash and Anglo-Irish's money. (I'm reasonably confident I read somewhere that Anglo-Irish would not fund the whole thing themselves, probably meaning it would be lead lender/administrative agent in a syndicated construction loan.)

All I know is this. Unlike some others, Kelleher appears to be putting much of his own coin into the deal. And money talks. Or maybe I am just letting my enthusiasm for this project cloud my natural lawyerly pessimism.

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