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Nation's Tallest Building Proposed in Chicago

A proposal to build a new 115-story building by 2009 could give Chicago claim to having the first and second tallest skyscrapers in the country.

The 2,000-foot tower, proposed by Chicago developer Christopher Carley (search) and designed by noted architect Santiago Calatrava, would go up along the city's lakefront near Navy Pier, northeast of the Loop.

The 110-floor Sears Tower (search) is currently the nation's tallest building. Carley's building, minus its spire, would be 1,458 feet high — taller than the Sears Tower by eight feet.

No financing for what would be a hotel and condo tower has yet been arranged and some rival developers say the proposal does not seem feasible.

If it is ever completed, the skyscraper would also surpass the height of New York's planned Freedom Tower (search), which would be 1,362 feet tall, plus a spire to stretch it to 1,776 feet. The Freedom Tower is expected to be completed in 2010.

The world's tallest building is currently the 1,670-foot Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

The proposed Chicago skyscraper, designed in a twisting shape like an enormous drill bit, is designed by the Spanish-born architect and engineer who designed the Milwaukee Art Museum addition and the Athens Olympic sports complex.

No financing for what would be a hotel and condo tower has yet been arranged, said Carley, the chairman of Fordham Co. The new building would be called the Fordham Spire.

Construction would not begin until there are sales agreements for about 40 percent of its units, Carley said. He said he'd like to break ground in March and complete the building in four years.

Some rival developers say the proposal does not seem feasible and they express skepticism that the Fordham Spire will ever be built.

Developer Donald Trump, who is constructing a 92-floor, 1,360-foot skyscraper in Chicago for luxury condominium buyers, said Carley's proposed building would not be economically viable in the post-Sept. 11 climate.

"Nobody is going to want to live in a building that's a target," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Carley countered that his skyscraper is in the same league as Trump's.

"I wonder where the insanity limit is. It must be just over 1,360 feet," he said, referring to Trump's building.

Carley also said his project's association with such a highly acclaimed architect as Calatrava would help, because "financiers are in awe of this man."

City officials in Chicago sounded guarded.

"We saw the plan and we'll consider it," said Connie Buscemi, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Planning and Development.