Irish echo logo 750x550

Kelleher battles for his high rise dream

Kelleher's spire, which looks not unlike an inverted screw in artistic renderings, has been delayed due to financing problems related to the banking industry's crisis in general, and Kelleher's dealings with Anglo Irish Bank in particular.

Kelleher, head of Shelbourne Developments, has been in contact with the AFL-CIO's pension investment trust organization in an effort to secure new funding for the downtown project.

"Under discussion is a potential $170 million land loan that would retire Shelbourne Development Group Inc.'s loan from Anglo Irish Bank, pay off liens and restart work on a project dormant for more than a year," the Chicago Tribune reported.

"An agreement is uncertain, but a successful outcome would help solidify Kelleher's negotiating stance as the executive chairman of Shelbourne seeks construction funding for the twisting, 2,000-foot-high tower that would dominate Chicago's skyline," the paper added.

The project has hit other roadblocks in addition to being linked to the problems at Anglo Irish, the running of which has been taken over by the Irish government.

Bank of America, according to the Tribune, filed suit in August against Shelbourne and Kelleher, accusing the developer of defaulting on a loan and saying it was due $4.9 million."

Kelleher and Shelbourne have since countersued claiming the bank "willfully and wantonly" engaged in a systematic pattern of deception and unfairness in its dealings with it.

According to the report, the latest potential deal would mean that the AFL-CIO pension trusts would become the first mortgage holder on the Chicago Spire, "meaning that if the project fizzled, they would have the right to take possession of the land at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, giving them control of a prime piece of real estate along Lake Michigan."

If the AFL-CIO seals the deal with Kelleher it would also mean that the construction of the tower - a project that comes with a pricetag estimated at close to $2 billion - would be an all-union job.

Dubliner Kelleher, who immigrated to the U.S., turned his initial commercial painting business into a major property development company based in the Windy City.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.