Countersuit is New Twist in Spire Saga

Irish developer sues Bank of America, claiming deception and unfair business practices

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009  |  Updated 2:51 PM CDT
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Inside the Sears Tower

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A conceptual drawing of the Chicago Spire.

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The Irish property group behind the endeavor to build the Chicago Spire has filed a counter suit against Bank of America, claiming deception and unfair business practices in arranging the loan used to start the beleaguered development.

In court documents filed last month, Shelbourne Development accused Bank of America of attempting to make unreasonable profits by incorrectly calculating the interest rate it applied to loans and credit facilities totaling up to $10 million granted to the firm, the newspaper Irish Independent explained.

It also denies a claim made in Bank of America's original suit, filed against Shelbourne and its principal, Garret Kelleher, in August, that no interest payments had been made in the last year.  Bank of America said it was owed $4.9 million in a loan personally guaranteed by Shelbourne and Kelleher.

The 2,000 foot, 150 story Spire is designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, whose work can also be seen in Milwaukee, with the Quadracci Pavilion addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Just a hole in the ground, the project, at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, has perhaps become a symbol of the real estate downturn.

Calatrava has placed a lien on the building, claiming that he was owed $11.34 million.  But while in Chicago last month, he said it was his "personal wish" that the four-year-old project "was not dead," noting that some of his projects have taken up to 13 years to complete.

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