Chicago River Tower May Be Scaled Back

Chicago River at Wolf Point

Chicago River at Wolf Point

Plans for a new skyscraper on one of the last remaining patches of Chicago Riverfront aren’t working out.  Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Hines, the Houston developer of the project has come to an agreement to terminate the lease of its anchor tenant.

The skyscraper would have been located across from Wolf Point, on the west bank of where the main channel of the Chicago River meets the North and South branches.  Architecture observers were eager to see how the tower would be designed to fit the tight space available, possibly with some suspension over the Amtrak and Metra rail lines running through the site.

This appears to be an example of a good plan killed by a bad economy.  Hines had two anchors lined up to take space in the 52-story tower, and agreements covering far more space than is usually needed to begin construction.  But the banks, in spite of the TRILLION dollars in taxpayer money they’ve been given by congress in order to start lending money again, refused to lend money to Hines — a company with a proven track record in America and abroad for developing winning towers.

So, what’s next for the project?  According to Crain’s, Hines may downsize the tower which would be a real shame considering its prominent location.  Even at its original planned height, it wasn’t all that tall.  52 stories may buy you some cachet down in the Bayou City, but up here it’s not even the median height of a Chicago skyscraper.

The location is a rare opportunity to build another terminating tower like the Chicago Board of Trade building  at the end of LaSalle Street.  The Hines building would have capped the Chicago River in an iconic fashion.  Anything less than spectacular is undeserving of the location.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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