Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Small Nation That Could Never Be Got To Accept Defeat

So said Eamonn de Valera after Winston Churchill's long whinge about Ireland's neutrality during the Second World War. Which the Irish called "The Emergency", so clearly there were differences of opinion.

Ireland's first Taoiseach called out his British counterpart by giving a brief lesson in Irish history. The island nation had been beaten down by English rule for centuries, but it never gave up. Never accepted defeat.

You could say that this abiding principle is what is motivating Irish developer Garrett Kelleher to rise up from the depths of financial disaster, beaten down by his creditors, but determined as ever to build that feckin' Spire.
The Spire Will Rise...Maybe...Possibly
In 2008, when Mr. Kelleher first announced plans to build the tallest skyscraper in North America, he obtained financing from Anglo Irish Bank. Plenty of other developers with big dreams also dipped into Anglo's coffers, and when the property bubble burst, Anglo went down. The Irish State ended up with the past due loans, which it then sold on the cheap in an effort to reclaim something for the Irish taxpayer.

The Spire project debt ended up in the hands of Related Midwest, a developer with an interest in doing the Spire deal, but under their control. As it turns out, Mr. Kelleher's Shelbourne Development was forced into bankruptcy by Related as part of that effort, but Mr. Kelleher still has a few of his stubborn Irish fingers in the pot and is doing his best to get himself some financing to push out Related, bring in an ally, and still make a little money out of what looked like a lost cause.

The ability of the Irish developer to get his Spire project moving again will depend on the ruling of a bankruptcy judge in Chicago.

If Shelbourne Development can reorganize its debt, a judge may be willing to allow the Kelleher plan to go forward, leaving Related to accept a debt payment they don't really want. What they want is the prime site, with the future potential to rake in massive amounts of money from rentals on flats so unique they are beyond luxurious. Starchitect Santiago Calatrava designed every little thing, down to the pulls on the doors, and with the demand for housing on the rise in Chicago's downtown area, Related could command some very high prices. So naturally Related is calling Mr. Kelleher's proposal a fool's errand that won't work because the financing won't be there as claimed, etc., etc.

A small nation that could never be got to accept defeat....it's an adage that could well describe the stubborn Irish people. A little bankruptcy certainly is not enough to get Garrett Kelleher to abandon his plan to build a 150-storey building on Chicago's lakefront. The machinations of a big firm based in New York City is as nothing compared to centuries of British colonial rule.

No comments: