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Chicago hits another post-recession construction record

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The Windy City has toppled last year’s record of 48 tower cranes operating in a single year

Flickr Creative Commons/CucombreLibre

Less than a year after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Windy City had reached a post-recession record of construction permits and active tower cranes, the mayor returns with another big announcement. According to Mayor Emanuel, 54 tower cranes have worked on high-rise construction projects around the city this year, marking a new post-recession record.

The number seems to match up with the high-rise construction we’ve been tracking at Curbed. In our last update from September, we counted 54 high-rise projects being constructed throughout the city (note that not every high-rise project will require a tower crane). Meanwhile, Daniel Schell at Building Up Chicago has kept tabs on active tower cranes and the projects that they are constructing. At one point this summer, Schell counted 33 active tower cranes, which may have been the most Chicago has seen operating at the same time since the recession.

And just to be clear, Mayor Emanuel’s announcement does not mean that all 54 tower cranes are operating this moment. Instead, it’s a tally of all of the cranes that have been operational at some point this year. Still, it’s a big number and it far exceeds the post-recession record set last November at 48 operating tower cranes in one year.

The construction boom in Chicago has been rolling along at a substantial pace in the last several years as developers rush to deliver thousands of new high-rise apartment towers, hotels, and office buildings. Just this year alone, 33 new rental buildings are expected to be completed, delivering upwards of 6,600 apartments. Meanwhile, major office projects such as the upcoming McDonald’s headquarters in Fulton Market and the renovation of the Old Main Post Office on the edge of the Loop are moving forward full steam ahead.

Tower cranes will likely be a common sight along the Chicago River’s North Branch in the coming years as developers scramble to assemble large industrial parcels and present redevelopment plans for them. And with the city pushing for Amazon’s HQ2, there’s certainly some chance that the city will see a major corporate tenant anchor the former Finkl Steel and Chicago Fleet Management sites.