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Jeanne Gang, Developers Thinking Big With New Building Project

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 19, 2014 4:30PM

An artist's rendering of the proposed building (City of Chicago, Handout)

A skyscraper project backed by China’s second-richest man and designed by superstar architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang could become the third-tallest building in Chicago, based on plans unveiled Thursday.

The 88-story addition to the Lakeshore East development on East Wacker Drive includes 9,000 square feet of retail space, a 250-room, five-star hotel and 390 condominiums, which would make the project by the China-based Wanda Group and Chicago-based Magellan Development Group the largest announced downtown construction project since before the bottom fell out of the commercial real estate market. The development would also serve as a “first step” in the U.S. real estate market for Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin. Wang’s wealth means the project would be less likely to be stalled due to a lack of financing and that the condo portion of the project can be built without having to focus on pre-sales. Magellan Group’s Joe Carlins said the financing “is basically in place” and that there would be any chances of the project blowing up like the now-dead Chicago Spire are minimal.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is said to have lobbied hard to land the project in Chicago, characterized it as another example of how he’s working to Build a New Chicago and used it as further proof the future of Chicago tourism is along the riverwalk.

City of Chicago, Handout

“This is, in my view, a great building. The size of the skyscraper is only matched and equaled by the size of the statement it’s making in the city of Chicago,” he said.

Critics of Emanuel use the development as another sign his vision for the city focuses too much on downtown and not enough on building out the surrounding neighborhoods. Emanuel brushed aside those criticisms.

“That’s a false choice…and an old way of looking at it. The 2,000 people that go to build this and the 500 who [will] work here live throughout the city in our neighborhoods,” the mayor said.

Once completed, the project would be the third-tallest building in Chicago behind Willis (Sears) Tower and Trump Tower, and would be steps away from Aqua, another Gang-designed building.

[Tribune, Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business]