Trib: Unions to finance Spire construction?

Yesterday afternoon, a lengthy Reuters feature about stalled construction projects around the world showed up in our RSS reader. Buried near the bottom of the 900-word article was an update on Shelbourne Development‘s ongoing efforts to secure financing for the planned 150-story Chicago Spire.

“Construction unions are negotiating to invest their pension funds to kickstart the project,” Reuters reported, adding that, “the Spire would provide 1 million paydays for ironworkers, carpenters and others.”

We weren’t the only ones who noticed that item. This morning the Chicago Tribune reported that representatives from the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust will meet with Shelbourne today to discuss dipping into the trade union’s pension fund to finance the twisting tower.

Tom Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building Trades Council, says talks are still in an “embryonic stage,” but the prospect of resuming work on the project would be good for local construction. “The Spire is going to be five years of construction, which is just phenomenal for us. It’s thousands of jobs,” Villanova told the Trib.

Despite appearances, Shelbourne is still actively marketing the building, says Spire spokeswoman Kim Metcalfe. “Clearly, the construction of the building is on pause, but nothing else about the building has stopped,” Metcalfe told the Trib.

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