The Death of a Spire: It’s OK to Grieve. Again.

Chicago Spire

On you way home tonight, be sure to stop by the local Slurp ‘n’ Burp to pick up the breakfast spread of your choice.  Whether it’s butter, honey, Nutella, or that knockoff Nutella by Hershey’s, you’re going to need lots of it because the Chicago Spire is officially toast.

ChicagoSpire-005Born in 2007 as the Fordham Spire, the controversial 400 North Lake Shore Drive baby was expected to grow up strong and tall to 2,000 linear feet and 150 human stories.  Alas, this project failed early and its name changed from Fordham to Chicago as its ownership changed from Chicago to Ireland.

Now, the most recent owner, Garrett Kelleher, has officially relinquished control of the architecturally engaging hole in the ground to friends-of-the-blog Related Midwest, to whom he owed a metric assload of money.

On the official passing of the property, Related president Curt Bailey sent us the statement below pledging to build something in the space, but most certainly not a 150-story twisting instant-icon-just-add-water.

We are pleased to have resolution on 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, the site of the former Chicago Spire project. We recognize the importance of this site to the City of Chicago and look forward to creating an architecturally significant and thoughtful development befitting this premier location. We are proud to have a long track-record of developing landmark buildings with world-class architects like 840 N. Lake Shore Drive, 500 N. Lake Shore Drive, Park Tower, 340 on the Park and most recently, 111 W. Wacker Drive. We look forward to continuing that legacy on this marquee site.

Site of the Chicago SpireWe knew the Spire back when it went by “Fordham,” worked the third shift at White Hen Pantry and we’d meet for slingers at the Diner Grill on Irving Park after Bears games.  That was before it got involved with the Celtic Tiger went all Eurotrash and changed its name to “Chicago Spire” because “Frankie from the Hood” wasn’t good enough anymore.

Now that Frankie’s dead, what will take his place?  At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.  The area is zoned for some pretty high-density living, and we’ve heard speculation that at least two smaller towers will rise on that land.  The property is far too valuable to build anything small, and far too visible to build anything lame.

All of the previous developers of 400 North Lake Shore Drive have been required to fix up DuSable Park as part of the city approval process.  Obviously, neither has.  So don’t be surprised if Related, or whomever comes along to finally build something at the location, isn’t required to complete DuSable before starting on their skyscrapers, just like Hines/Ivanhoe are doing at River Point and 150 North Riverside is doing at 150 North Riverside.


Author: Editor

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

Share This Post On