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CHICAGO-Construction will begin by the end of this month on a 2,000-ft residential tower now that it has received the final approval needed by the city. On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council unanimously voted for the final approval for the Chicago Spire, 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. The project, being developed by Dublin, Ireland-based Shelbourne Development Group Inc., had previously received unanimous approval from the city’s planning and zoning commissions, says Tom Murphy, of Thomas J. Murphy PC, general counselor and spokesman for Shelbourne.

The 150-story building will have 1,200 units and penthouse residences as high as 2,000 feet, making the building the largest residential building in North America and Europe. The project is expected to have the highest occupied floor in the world.

Construction is expected to be complete in late 2010. The renowned Santiago Calatrava, the designer of the corkscrew-style Spire, is the lead architect and engineer for the 2,000-ft building. “The attention of the world will be on Chicago now – not only because of this building but also because of the U.S. Olympic bid having been awarded to the city of Chicago,” Murphy says. The building will have a four-story glass lobby and underground parking for 1,350 cars. The tower will have the world’s longest elevator run. Currently, the longest elevator run is 1,500 feet and, once completed, the elevator in the Spire will travel a total of 2,000 feet from the underground parking garage to the 150th floor, he says.

The tower will be constructed to meet the gold standard of LEED certification. The building will recycle rainwater for landscaping, use river water for cooling and will also have special glass to protect migratory birds. The tower will also have a steel perimeter and concrete core.

The development will also have a one-acre landscaped public plaza and the developers will fund DuSable Park, a three-acre park directly east of the site. Shelbourne is contributing $9 million to the estimated $12 million project which will have “commemorative and educational artifacts for the life of John DuSable who founded the city of Chicago,” Murphy says. The bike trail in the park will also be reconfigured. The Chicago Park District, which had owned the land, approved Wednesday evening to transfer the property to the city. To allow for the partnership between Shelbourne, the city and the park district to develop the property, Murphy said the park district had to transfer ownership of the property because it does not have the authority to enter into such agreements.The three-million-sf structure’s height will surpass the Sears Tower and Toronto’s CN Tower, making it the tallest freestanding building in North America and Europe. The tower will be situated at the mouth of the Chicago River, just east of Lakeshore Drive. Pedestrian access to Lake Michigan will be provided via a walkway under Lakeshore to a new DuSable Park.

Earlier plans called for 300 luxury condominium residences ranging from $600,000 to $5 million and a five-star, 20-story hotel. Last month, Murphy said sales prices for the units are not decided upon yet and will be decided on by the third quarter. Company officials had previously pegged the price tag of the building at $1.2 billion. Murphy said he could not disclose project costs but confirmed last month that approximately 30% of the cost will come from Shelbourne with about 70% financed by Anglo-Irish Bank.

Perkins + Will will be the architect of record, with principal Ray Clark heading up the project. Local developer Christopher T. Carley, who introduced the building concept, was taken out of the deal when Kelleher bought the property for $65 million in July.

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