In 29 days, Santa comes to town, and the fat old elf will have a few more obstacles to navigate his sleigh around. Among them is NEMA Chicago, the 76-story residential tower going up on the south end of Grant Park — one of Mr. Claus’ favorite landing areas.
I need an oxygen tank and a lurpy dog with a barrel of brandy around his neck to climb the Montrose Harbor sledding hill, but Joe Zekas from YoChicago! hitched up his britches and hiked up 70 floors of NEMA.
What he discovered up there wasn’t sherpas, but construction workers from McHugh (gesundheit), braving the wind and cold to assemble the upper reaches of the Crescent Heights pile at 1200 South Indiana Avenue.
By the time you read this, the core of the Rafael Viñoly design will be up to the 76th floor, which is the top residential floor. Throw some mechanical and artistic work on top, and we’re talking about 80 floors filling out the expected 887-foot height.
On the inside, the skyscraper will have 800 warm, cozy homes for new South Loop residents, and 622 less warm, less cozy homes for their automobiles.
With any luck, the thousand or so people who move in next year will quickly get new neighbors. Notice the empty space to the right of NEMA in the photograph above. If you leave out some rum balls for Santa, maybe next year he’ll deliver a sister skyscraper for that space.