River Point Breaks Ground

River Point groundbreaking

(Left to right) Greg Van Schaack, senior managing director, Hines; Larry Levy of the Levy Organization; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Daniel Fournier, chairman and CEO, Ivanhoé Cambridge; Arthur Lloyd, executive vice president of investments Western North America, Ivanhoé Cambridge; C. Kevin Shannahan, CEO of Hines’ Midwest Region; Jeff Hines, president and CEO of Hines; Jim Walsh, managing director, Hines

The construction of Chicago’s next downtown office tower is underway.  Groundbreaking was held Tuesday (January 15, 2013) for River Point, the medium-sized skyscraper, and oversized public park that will perch on the edge of the Chicago River while enshrouding the railroad tracks beneath it.

River PointThis tower at 444 West Lake Street was originally supposed to be 52 stories, but was scaled back to 45 stories.  And a planned adjacent hotel tower was also removed from the plan.  Coincidentally, a hotel magically, and quite controversially, appeared recently in Hines’ Wolf Point project just across the river.  Both projects were supposed to be underway before the end of 2012, but faced challenges from the neighbors.

One of the compromises struck means that the first part of River Point completed won’t be the gleaming glass tower, it will be the park on the river.  Hines made that commitment this past summer:  Park first, tower second.  In yet another controversy, you will be kicking in $29 million of your tax dollars to help pay for the park.  When this was announced, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel hailed it as a great example of a public-private partnership.  He was virtually alone in that, though, with the media exploding in a frenzy of criticism over corporate welfare.

Here is Hines’ press release about the groundbreaking:

Mayor Emanuel and Dignitaries Break Ground on River Point in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, January 15, 2013- Ivanhoé Cambridge, one of the 10 largest real estate companies in the world, and co-investor and developer Hines, announced the start of construction of River Point, a development including a 45-story office tower and a 1.5-acre public park in downtown Chicago’s West Loop. The project is being developed with land partner Larry Levy.

River Point was designed by noted architectural firm Pickard Chilton, and is being constructed at 444 West Lake Street on the western bank of the Chicago River near two commuter rail hubs and overlooking the river toward Lake Michigan. Containing approximately 900,000 square feet of leasable space, the tower is pre-certified LEED® Gold. The project will be ready for initial occupancy in 2016.

River PointDignitaries presiding over the Tuesday afternoon groundbreaking ceremony were: Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Daniel Fournier, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Ivanhoé Cambridge; C. Kevin Shannahan, CEO of Hines’ Midwest and Southeast regions; and Larry Levy, chairman of The Levy Organization.

According to Mayor Emanuel, “This is a momentous day for the City of Chicago, as this is the first office building to come out of the ground in Chicago in years. River Point is an example of smart growth and job creation for our city, which is leading the nation in economic development, and I am proud that there is enough confidence in the city’s economic landscape for this project to come to fruition.”

“River Point will be an exceptional property, built to the highest standards of sustainability and offering tenants world-class office space,” explained Fournier.

“River Point will be a striking addition to Chicago’s skyline and the first in a new generation of office buildings. There is significant interest from major corporate tenants,” commented Shannahan.

For more information visit the project website: chicagoriverpoint.com

Author: Editor

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

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