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CHICAGO-Union officials have said they won’t be able to dig the Chicago Spire out of debt. Earlier this month, a report in the Wall Street Journal, stated a number of unions may be banning together to resurrect the $1 billion project.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported over the weekend that while AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust and ULLICO Inc. expressed initial interest they are unable to infuse the project with the needed $170 million in short-term financing.

“It’s not something we’re able to do,” Edward Smith, president of ULLICO, is quoted in the article as saying. “Unfortunately, these are just very difficult markets.”

The 150-floor tower, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was planned to be the tallest in the North America. Developer Shelbourne Development Group has only been able to secure tenants for 30% of the condos in the project after two years of marketing. Construction loans on projects that have less that 50% commitments are highly difficult to obtain, especially during this recessionary period.

Shelbourne Development is looking for $170 million to pay off existing debt and jumpstart the construction process again. So far only the foundation has been dug for the spire.

A Shelbourne spokesperson told Crain’s Chicago Business the company is still reaching out to a variety of unions hoping to gain their financial support on the project.

To read the full article in Crain’s Chicago Business click here.

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