Related Midwest Takes Long-Stalled Chicago Tower on New Course

Shovels are traditional for ground-breaking ceremonies, but Related Midwest’s restart last Thursday of another developer’s downtown Chicago high-rise, stagnant since 2008, reportedly used a sledgehammer instead.

Shovels are traditional for ground-breaking ceremonies, but Related Midwest’s restart last Thursday of another developer’s downtown Chicago high-rise, stagnant since 2008, reportedly used a sledgehammer instead. The reason was that the building, at 111 W. Wacker Drive on the Chicago River’s south bank, had already gotten up to the 28th floor when construction stopped.

Related Midwest’s plans are for a 60-story, 950,000-gross-square-foot, LEED Silver tower with 504 luxury apartments (from studios and convertibles to three-bedrooms), 470 parking spaces, and street-level restaurant and retail space. Completion is scheduled for spring 2014.

Originally planned as Waterview Tower, a 90-story building consisting of a 200-room Shangri-La hotel and 233 luxury residential condos, the long-stalled structure was acquired from previous owner Waterview L.L.C. by Related Real Estate Recovery Fund, a distressed–real estate fund, in July 2011. Related subsequently went into a joint venture with Clark Wacker L.L.C. to revive development at the site.

“While the condo market is making a return, the high-end rental market is still a desired commodity for many Chicagoans,” Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest told Commercial Property Executive. When coupled with strong locations and upscale amenity packages, he added, “the flexibility that renting provides continues to make renting a good option for many downtown.”

Currently, Related Midwest is developing another luxury rental high-rise, at 500 North Lake Shore Drive, and is marketing One Evanston, a condo development in that inner-ring suburb. And soon the company will also begin marketing three marquee condo projects in Chicago’s South Loop.

“Both our Evanston and the South Loop properties are more suited for homeownership,” Bailey said, “as they consist mostly of two- and three-bedrooms, as opposed to our luxury rental apartments, which are primarily studios, convertibles and one-bedrooms.”

The design and construction team for 111 W. Wacker includes Lend Lease U.S. Construction, Handel Architects L.L.P., of New York, and Chicago-based Epstein and Kara Mann Design.

On Sept. 28, CPE reported that Related had obtained $115 million in construction financing from U.S. Bank, with Bank of America as syndication agent.