Tribune Tower Sold for Mixed-Use Redevelopment

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) -

Tribune Tower, Chicago’s monument to newspaper journalism, is sold.

Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group announced Wednesday it completed the $240 million purchase from Tribune Media, with plans to transform the historic North Michigan Avenue property into a mixed-use redevelopment.

Elements of the development could include retail, residential and office space and a hotel, with the landmarked 36-story tower at the center of any plans, according to CIM.

“We are very excited to be involved with such an iconic building — one that is a significant part of the fabric of Chicago — and we take this responsibility seriously,” said Avi Shemesh, co-founder and principal of CIM. “Our goal is to work with the city to preserve the historic aesthetic of the tower and do our best to maintain it within the context of the surrounding buildings.”

Built in 1925, the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s new headquarters. It was named a Chicago landmark in 1989.

The three-acre property includes a surface parking lot to the east that will give rise to new construction, CIM said. The tower encompasses 737,000 square feet, but the property is zoned for up to 2.4 million square feet.

The buildings to the north of the tower were built for media outlets, while the newspaper’s former printing plant sits to the east.

“As for the surrounding buildings, our intent is to maintain as much as possible — this could be the facades and perhaps even the entire buildings,” Shemesh said. “They’re beautiful buildings.”

The Tribune reported last month that Chicago developer Golub & Co. would partner with CIM to buy the tower and adjacent property. Terms of the deal called for $205 million cash at closing, with up to $35 million in contingent payments.

Getting the redevelopment off the ground could take some time. CIM has not selected an architect and will look for municipal and civic input to come up with a preliminary design over the next six to nine months. Developers would like to begin construction by fall 2018.

Meanwhile, Tribune Media is making significant headway toward selling its entire $1 billion real estate portfolio. In addition to Tribune Tower, the Chicago-based company announced Wednesday it sold the Times Mirror Square building and Olympic printing plant in Los Angeles.

Tribune Media said gross proceeds from the three buildings could total $475 million, including contingent payments.

“We have made considerable progress toward achieving our goal of realizing at least $1 billion of gross proceeds from the sale of some of our most significant real estate holdings,” Peter Liguori, Tribune Media’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Tribune Media spun off its publishing division — including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other daily newspapers — in August 2014, retaining the broadcasting business and real estate portfolio.

Tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper chain formerly known as Tribune Publishing, is Tribune Media’s largest tenant. Its leases at Tribune Tower and Times Mirror Square run through June 2018.