The developer was, at the time, extremely wealthy. He certainly had the means to hire the architect, file papers with the city, and get a loan for some initial ground work. None of those things are particularly difficult for a wealthy person, and I'm sure he personally was serious about the project.
But the problem is that no one else in the industry took the project seriously. They knew it was an impossible project, even in a place like NYC or London. In Chicago, where prices are relatively low, and there's a glut of luxury real estate, the project never had a chance.