Historic Tribune Tower in Chicago goes up for sale

Publisher of Chicago Tribune newspaper explores outright sale or partnership to redevelop its historic 36-storey headquarters building

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2015, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2015, 8:00pm

Tribune Tower, the historic Michigan Avenue home of the Chicago Tribune, is for sale.

The building’s owner, Tribune Media, announced last Thursday that it has hired real estate investment banker Eastdil Secured to explore an outright sale or partnership for redeveloping the 36-storey building, which sits on 1.2 hectares along one of Chicago’s busiest shopping districts.

“The global renown of this building, its unparalleled location and development potential make this an incredible opportunity and we are expecting a high level of interest from a broad range of private and institutional investors and developers,” Murray McQueen, president of Tribune Real Estate, said in a statement.

Tribune Real Estate unveiled conceptual plans last year to redevelop the parcel, potentially tripling Tribune Tower’s space with residential, retail and hotel components. The landmarked neo-Gothic building, which houses the Chicago Tribune and other tenants, has 737,000 square feet of space but is zoned for up to 2.4 million square feet.

Built in 1925, Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Chicago Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s headquarters.

Named a Chicago landmark in 1989, Tribune Tower itself would likely remain a centrepiece of any redevelopment.

“This property offers 100 linear feet more frontage on Michigan Avenue than Rockefeller Centre has on Fifth Avenue in New York City,” McQueen said. “We see this as the future site of an exciting retail destination, surrounded by world-class adaptive re-use of the Tower and additional mixed use development.”

Tribune Media spun off its publishing division -- including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other daily newspapers -- in August 2014 to focus on its higher-margin broadcasting business. It also retained a real estate portfolio that includes 77 assets, 8 million square feet and 1,200 acres of land. Tribune Real Estate is looking at redeveloping Times Mirror Square in Los Angeles as well as sites in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and Costa Mesa, California.

Last December, Tribune Media sold a 24-hectare property in Baltimore, which netted the company US$30 million. The property includes the printing plant for Tribune Publishing’s Baltimore Sun, which has a long-term lease for the facility.

Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development is partnering with Tribune Real Estate to redevelop a 2-hectare site near its Chicago printing plant. The property houses a former Chicago Tribune insertion plant that ceased operations in 2012.