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Idle Crane, Iced Out

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Tension over crane inspection and safety has been playing out in downtown Chicago, where city building officials for nearly a year tried to force a supertall building developer to remove an idle tower crane from a mothballed project.

Crane atop stalled project in Chicago came down after safety concerns.
Photo: Tudor Van Hampton / ENR
Crane atop stalled project in Chicago came down after safety concerns.
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The 1,047-ft-tall Waterview Tower was set to become the luxurious Shangri-La hotel, but work halted in 2008 at the 25th floor due to a lending freeze. Since the shutdown, the site on Chicago’s prominent West Wacker Drive has become a ghost town, crane and all.

“The big concern that we have is that it is not meant to be a permanent structure,” says Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s building department. “In this case, we didn’t want to have the crane up for an indefinite period of time waiting for the developer to obtain new financing.”

The city filed a lawsuit last February against some three-dozen companies involved in the project, including developer-designer-builder Teng & Associates, asking them to correct several code violations, including taking down the idled crane. Meanwhile, city officials inspected the crane nearly every week. After months of back-and-forth testimony, the city won, and the teardown commenced in mid-January.


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