53 tower cranes operating in Chicago; highest number since the Great Recession

lincoln commons
Night view of the Lincoln Commons project and its tower cranes (Hines Interests webcam)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Buildings said in late September that the 53rd tower crane in 2017 is operating, breaking the record of 52 tower cranes set last year.

The latest tower crane to dot the sky is located at 2345 N. Lincoln Ave., a six- acre mixed-use development on the former site of Children’s Memorial Hospital.

lincoln common
Earlier image (April 2017) of construction of Lincoln Common on the site of the old Children’s Memorial Hospital

“People are optimistic about the future of Chicago. They want to move here, they want to invest here and they want to build here,” said Mayor Emanuel. “As Chicago’s economy continues to get stronger, we will continue to partner with businesses, big and small, to keep this progress going.”

With this new tower crane, there are 53 tower cranes in operation this year, 31 are still on construction sites in Chicago and seven new tower cranes are pending installation. This marks the largest number of operating cranes in a year since the Great Recession, when the city dropped to as low as 12 operating tower cranes in 2010.

The new tower crane is the second to be installed at The Lincoln Common. The transit-oriented development features 94,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 538 apartment units, 40 luxury condominiums, a 47,000 sq. ft. boutique office building, a parking garage with 850 spaces, a 149-room senior living facility and more than an acre of open space. New buildings will be mixed with restored and revitalized structures to integrate into the existing neighborhood fabric with ready access to the Fullerton train stop (red/brown/purple CTA lines), buses and bike lanes.

“The Hines McCaffery partnership is very proud to share in this historic moment,” said Dan McCaffery, Chief Executive Officer of McCaffery Interests. “We love this city and the opportunities it offers for so many. Congratulations Chicago!”

salesforce tower crane
Salesforce Tower in April 2017, the day before its topping out ceremony (Wikipedia)

Cranes typically operate on construction sites for more than a year and can operate for as long as two years, depending on the size of the development.

In addition to tower crane records, Chicago in late September reported a dramatic uptick in permits issued for single-family home renovations. In 2015, the average number of permits issued per month was 169, and through the first half of this year, the city has averaged 202 permits per month. Following a commitment to homeowners last fall to issue single-family home renovation permits without special zoning approvals in 30 days or less, the average time to get this permit in 2017 is 25 days (a decrease of 10 days from 2016).

“The Department of Buildings is committed to being a partner, not an obstacle, for building projects,” said Building Commissioner Judy Frydland. “We have laid the groundwork in the last two years with reforms that make it more cost-effective to build and easier to obtain building permits.”

The city says recent reforms implemented include a new Electrical Code approved by City Council in early September, the elimination of multiple dwelling registration, and additional code relief for plumbing, energy, and natural light and ventilation requirements.


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