Developer James Loewenberg dies; shaped modern Chicago skyline

An architect and former co-CEO of Magellan, developed Aqua and Vista towers

TRD CHICAGO /
Oct.October 16, 2020 03:45 PM
James Loewenberg, with the Vista and Aqua Towers (Magellan)

James Loewenberg, with the Vista and Aqua Towers (Magellan)

Developer James Loewenberg, whose vision for architecture and livable neighborhoods helped shape the modern Chicago skyline, died at 86. The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to Crain’s.

Loewenberg’s recent achievements include developing the Aqua and Vista skyscrapers downtown, which he did as co-CEO of Magellan Development Group, Crain’s reported.

Loewenberg created Lakeshore East development, an 83-acre site stretching from Michigan Avenue to Lakeshore Drive with high-rise residential towers flanked by shops, parks and transportation. It “forever changed Chicago,” said Lynn Osmond, president of the Chicago Architecture Center, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Last year, Loewenberg resigned as co-CEO of Magellan, and with partner Joel Carlins, sold his stake in the company to BLG Capital Advisors of Chicago and Winter Properties of New York, according to Crain’s.

Under the leadership of Carlin’s son David, Magellan recently bought out the 90 percent ownership share of Vista Tower, held by Chinese developer Dalian Wanda Group, for $270 million. Magellan is now the 100 percent owner.

Construction of that 101-story building at 375 E. Wacker Drive, with a 191-key hotel and roughly 400 condos, is nearly complete. With Wanda’s exit, it’s unclear what will happen to the hotel portion; the hotel sector has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Magellan continues to hold a partial ownership stake in Aqua Tower. The 86-story building has 474 apartments and 224 condos above a 334-key Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.

Born in 1934, Loewenberg received his architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957 and later joined his family’s architectural firm in Chicago. Crain’s listed among his development projects Gallery on Wells, Wolf Point West apartments, Grand Plaza and One Superior Place in River North, and two buildings — Cirrus and Cascade — still under construction in Lakeshore East. [Crain’s, Tribune] — Orion Jones


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