Rising up: Here are Chicago’s 10 tallest towers in the works

A number of projects are set transform the skyline in the next few years
By John O’Brien | April 26, 2019 09:05AM

Chicago became the birthplace of the skyscraper in 1885, and more than a century later developers keep adding to its distinctive skyline.

Today, Crescent Heights’ NEMA Chicago, JDL Development’s One Chicago and Related Midwest’s 400 North Lakeshore Drive are among a new crop of skyscrapers in the works that will make their mark.

They will join anchors like the Blackstone Group’s Willis Tower, 601 W Companies’ Aon Center and the Trump Organization’s Trump Tower.

These are the 10 tallest buildings either under construction or proposed in the city. Heights in most cases were taken from data from the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats.

Tribune Tower — 1,422 feet

Renderings of CIM and Golub’s mixed-use tower

CIM Group & Golub & Company are in the midst of a massive overhaul of the former Tribune Tower complex on North Michigan Avenue. Right now, they are focusing on turning the historic former home of the Chicago Tribune into 163 condos and other uses. But a proposed second phase calls for building a 1,422-foot-tall skyscraper that would be the second tallest behind Willis Tower at 1,451 feet.

Vista Tower — 1,191 feet

A rendering of Vista Tower

A rendering of Vista Tower

Dalian Wanda and Magellan Development are set to complete the 98-story mixed-use skyscraper in Lakeshore East next year. But China-based Dalian Wanda is shopping its stake in the building. When completed, it will be the third-tallest building — at least for now — behind Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1,389 feet.

400 North Lake Shore Drive — 1,000 feet

Related Midwest plans two towers at 400 North Lake Shore Drive

Related Midwest last proposed a dual-tower project for the site of the failed Chicago Spire project — which would have dwarfed everything on this list at 2,000 feet. The taller of the two proposed buildings would rise to 1,000 feet, with its companion tower reaching 850 feet. But the project has yet to win the crucial approval of Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd), who sent Related back to the drawing board to address neighbors’ concerns with the plan, mostly involving the layout of the complex its mix of uses.

One Chicago — 1,046 feet

A rendering of One Chicago Square

A rendering of One Chicago Square

JDL Development has started construction on a massive complex in River North that will feature a 77-story tower and a 50-story tower sprouting from a common 10-story podium at the corner of State Street and Chicago Avenue. The taller of the two buildings is set to reach 1,046 feet.

Lakeshore East “Parcel I” — 950 feet

The I, J and K/L residential buildings, James Loewenberg and Joel Carlins

The I, J and K/L residential buildings, James Loewenberg and Joel Carlins

Magellan and Lendlease are partnering on a $1.1 billion bid to build three towers on the eastern edge of Lakeshore East. The towers would combine for 1,700 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail space on a 171,000-square-foot property overlooking Lake Shore Drive. The tallest would rise 950 feet and would be the last to be built.

NEMA Chicago — 896 feet

NEMA Chicago apartment tower

NEMA Chicago apartment tower

Crescent Heights on May 1 is set to welcome the first residents to its NEMA Chicago apartment tower at 1200 South Indiana Avenue, which will become the tallest all-residential building in the city when it opens. The building will add 800 luxury units to the increasingly crowded South Loop apartment market, and rents will run from around $1,800 a month for a studio to $25,000 for a four-bedroom.

1000M — 832 feet

1000 South Michigan Avenue

The developers of the planned 1000M condo tower on the south end of Grant Park have vowed to finally get the project off the ground later this year, and deliver the first units in mid-2021. JK Equities, Time Equities and Oak Capitals recently said they’re now devoting seven floors to smaller units in the planned 74-story skyscraper at 1000 South Michigan Avenue in hopes of increasing sales.

110 North Wacker Drive — 817 feet

110 North Wacker Drive

110 North Wacker Drive

Riverside Investment and Development is teaming with the Howard Hughes Corporation to build the new office tower at 110 North Wacker Drive on the site of the former General Growth Properties headquarters. A number of tenants have already signed leases in the tower, led by anchor tenant Bank of America at 530,000 square feet.

Salesforce Tower — 813 feet

Elizabeth Pinkham, Salesforce vice president of real estate, and a rendering of Salesforce Tower. (Credit: Salesforce)

Elizabeth Pinkham, Salesforce vice president of real estate, and a rendering of Salesforce Tower. (Credit: Salesforce)

The new office building being anchored by San Francisco-based software giant Salesforce will join two shorter towers on Wolf Point. The massive redevelopment by the Kennedy family and Hines Interests is transforming the long-vacant property where the three branches of the Chicago River meet.

BMO Tower — 700 feet

Riverside CEO John O’Donnell and renderings of the new Union Station plans (Credit: Riverside Investment & Development)

Riverside CEO John O’Donnell and renderings of the new Union Station plans (Credit: Riverside Investment & Development)

Riverside Investment and Development, and Convexity Partners are building the 50-story office building next to Union Station as part of their major overhaul of the historic train depot. BMO Financial Group in December said it’s taking a 14-floor anchor lease in the new tower, along with naming rights.