Your (semi)weekly Spire update: Another day, another lien

The Chicago Spire

Well, Crain’s beat us to the gag: The Chicago Spire is now “The Lien-ing Tower of Chicago.”

Architect Santiago Calatrava and architecture firm Perkins & Will aren’t the only parties who have filed liens against the project. According to Crain’s, two companies controlled by Shelbourne Development Executive Chairman Garrett Kelleher – Chicago Spire LLC and Shelbourne Lakeshore Ltd – also filed liens totaling $17.5 million earlier this month against yet another Kelleher-controlled company, Shelbourne North Water Street LP, which owns the Spire’s site.

A Spire spokesperson quoted in the piece says the new liens are simply an “inter-company accounting move” that protects the developer’s interest in the property, and do not represent a dispute over unpaid bills.

Lorig Construction of Des Plaines has also filed a mechanic’s lien for $512,386 for its work building the new access ramps to Lake Shore Drive, Crain’s reports.

Meanwhile, in this morning’s Sun-Times, real-estate columnist David Roeder opined about Calatrava’s $11.34 million lien against the Spire:

Kelleher, through a spokeswoman, describes it as a contractual dispute that does not reflect on the project’s viability.

And that’s certainly one way to look at a lien. The other way is to treat it as falling out between business partners, which Calatrava and Kelleher certainly are in this deal. The proposed 150-story building with unique residential layouts is being marketed as “a Calatrava,” like it’s a work of art. For that reason, I think this lien raises serious implications for the project. With the financial crisis making credit and buyers harder to come by, it looks like Calatrava is cutting his own losses.

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