88-story skyscraper Wanda Vista to be Chicago's 3rd tallest building

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wanda Vista to be 3rd tallest in Chicago
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The Chicago skyline is one step closer to adding another skyscraper.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago skyline is one step closer to adding another skyscraper. The 88-story hotel, residential and retail Wanda Vista building is slated for two empty lots in the Lakeshore East neighborhood.

The project on East Wacker Drive is expected to create more than 2,000 construction and 500 permanent jobs. The Wanda Group, owned by China's wealthiest man, is choosing Chicago over New York and Los Angeles as its first real estate investment in the U.S.

"The size of the scraper is only matched and equal to the statement it is making in city of Chicago," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

PHOTOS: 88-story skyscraper to be built at Lakeshore East

Unlike other private investments, Emanuel said the Wanda Vista is not getting any tax breaks or financial incentives. The skyscraper will be designed by Chicago Architect Jeanne Gang, who was at Thursday's announcement. Gang said it's too early in the process to answer questions, but her renderings of the building are impressive to architecture critic Lee Bey.

"Jeanne Gang's architecture is really designed to respond to the sight and environment on river that is what is driving the shape," Bey said.

The Wanda Vista skyscraper will be the city's third tallest building. Many Lakeshore East residents welcome the project even if it means blocked river or lake views.

"I think it will bring more activity to the neighborhood. It will make us a place to come see," Gwen Sylvain said.

"I think it will be great for the guy that owns it. My view will be blocked. (I'm) not excited about that, but can't control it," Thomas Roach said.

"I'm extremely excited about new building, great addition to the neighborhood," Alex Caris said.

The Wanda Vista is another example of downtown development, but the mayor says the $900 million project will bring in revenue to invest in other Chicago neighborhoods. The Wanda Vista is expected to break ground in 2016.

More than $30 billion in trade is done each year between Chicago and China. Mayor Emanuel said former Mayor Richard M. Daley gets much of the credit for the city's strong relationship with China.

"I want to personally take this moment to thank him for the many trips he made to China, to build the foundation for that gateway agreement," Emanuel said of Daley.