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Developer to unveil plans for Spire, 62-acre South Loop sites in 2017

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Related Midwest has brought on new talent to oversee the development of these two high profile sites

While Related Midwest has a fairly full plate with the construction of One Bennett Park, 1035 W. Van Buren, and the redevelopment of the Lathrop Homes, the developer is making additional moves in anticipation of two future projects that could potentially redefine Chicago’s skyline: the redevelopment of the long-dormant Chicago Spire site and the planned transformation of 62 vacant riverfront acres in Chicago’s South Loop into essentially an entirely new neighborhood. To gear up for these ambitious projects, the Chicago-based developer has brought on architect Michael Pfeffer, formerly of Skidmore Owings & Merrill.

Pfeffer, who managed numerous projects across the globe during his 15-year tenure with SOM, was reportedly drawn to Related Midwest’s in-house architecture team due to the high-profile and likely iconic nature of the development sites. "Those are two projects that are so compelling that I thought I would have missed an opportunity if I didn't at least talk to Related about it," the architect told Crain’s. Pfeffer, along with the rest of Related’s design team, will work in tandem with outside architects on both projects.

While the recent addition of new landscaping around the Spire’s abandoned foundation pit fueled speculation that Related Midwest perhaps planned on sitting on the land for the foreseeable future, it was also reported yesterday by Crain’s that the firm expects to publicly present preliminary plans for both projects in 2017. The news means that the developer isn’t interested in long term land-banking but rather could see both projects get underway in the midst of the current real estate market cycle.

In addition to the announcing a rough timetable for revealing its plans, another takeaway from the report is that Pfeffer and Related top brass acknowledge the gravity of these two projects and their significance to the city at large. "Both of these developments will help define Chicago in perpetuity," Related Midwest President Curt Bailey told Crain’s. "Both will impact the skyline, one enormously so. They're important for the city."

Baily remained mum regarding outside architects involved in the plans. He also declined to comment on whether Related Midwest intends to build a single tower or multiple buildings at the former Spire location. Still, the confirmation of an "enormous," skyline-changing project is more than mouth-watering news. Could the developer be cooking up something on par with Gensler’s 2000-foot, mixed-use conceptual design? We shall see.