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A Spire Revival?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Mar 24, 2009 3:15PM

Photo by drrt
The infamously embattled Chicago Spire may have found new life in its battle to simply get built. While right now it remains Chicago's most famous hole in the ground, developer Shelbourne Development Groupis scheduled to meet today with members of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trusts to discuss using some pension funds to get the building's construction going again. Construction was halted last fall and, earlier this year, the financial woes of the developer deepened thanks to fallout from the economic crisis in Ireland.

Tom Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building Trades Council, told the Tribune that the talks, which began earlier this year, are in the "embryonic stage," but there's hope. Said Villanova, "The main thing is jobs. We can use our own funds to benefit members. The Spire is going to be five years of construction, which is just phenomenal for us. It's thousands of jobs." The AFL-CIO's involvement would also make the building a completely unionized project.

An investment by the pension fund would make the project a 100 percent union job.

"Obviously, the idea of pulling the unions together and making this a 'Made in America' project is very positive," said project spokeswoman Kim Metcalfe, who confirmed ongoing discussions with the union.

"We're exploring all of the financial options with the economy as challenging as it is, but clearly this is long-term," Metcalfe said. "We're working toward the success of the building. We continue to actively market the building. Clearly, the construction of the building is on pause, but nothing else about the building has stopped."

But the Spire wouldn't be the end of it: one of the trusts is the Building Investment Trust which, according to Villanova, could become involved in constructing an Olympic Village should Chicago by awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics. [Tribune]