Gasp-Worthy Proposal Unveiled for Chicago’s Second-Tallest Skyscraper

Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)

Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)

As the kids say these days: “Oh. My. God.”

That was the reaction — positive and negative — to the proposed new skyscraper unveiled tonight at a public meeting at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Development duo CIM Group and Golub & Co. pulled the sheet off of a stunning new skyscraper proposal that, at 1,422 feet, would be the second-tallest building in Chicago.  It’s planned for the surface parking lot behind the Tribune Tower.  CIM bought both in 2016 for $240 million.

Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)

Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)

CIM has extensive plans for redeveloping the Tribune Tower (435 North Michigan Avenue) into 163 luxury condominiums and 47,500 square feet of retail space.

But the star of the show was the massive mixed-use tower, currently called Tribune East.  It features 10,700 square feet of ground floor retail space, topped by five floors of parking, 200 hotel rooms, 439 apartments, and 125 condos.

It would be just 29 feet shorter than the Willis Tower, and trump the Trump International Hotel and Tower’s bogus height-supplementing spire by 33 feet.  Trib East will clock in with the most floors of any building in Chicago at 113.  By comparison, the Willis Tower has 108, the John Hancock Center 100, Trump 98, and the under-construction Vista Tower 95.

Naturally, the big question is: Will it get built?  As is usually the case in Chicago, the answer is a qualified “maybe.”  But consider these points:

  • As we predicted, the building is mostly contained to the northern portion of the site, preserving the codified sight line from Ogden Slip to the Tribune Tower.
  • Very often big proposals downtown die because of traffic concerns.  Unlike most towers in Chicago, this building has a lower level connected to the street grid, so much of the traffic goes underground and away from the surface street congestion.
  • Ditto for parking.  The building will have the neighboring Tribune Tower’s five-story parking garage, so there shouldn’t be an impact on the availability of parking in the neighborhood.
  • CIM has proven itself coast-to-coast as capable of handling a project this size, both from a financial and logistics perspective.
  • However, construction isn’t expected to begin until the original Tribune Tower’s transformation is complete.  Anything could happen in the intervening years.

It’s possible that neighborhood group SOAR may get behind this one.  SOAR used to be a hard-core NIMBY group, but has evolved in recent years.  While at one time it lambasted the never-built Streeterville version of the Waldorf-Astoria Tower, some of its members now see that as a missed opportunity.  And it welcomed the enormous One Bennett Park to the neighborhood, in part because of its tasteful and distinctive (for Chicago) style.

Atlanta's 1180 Peachtree, completed in 2006.

Atlanta’s 1180 Peachtree, completed in 2006.

The CIM/Golub tower is certainly distinctive, too.  It’s something of an updated, elongated, sophisticated version of Atlanta’s 1180 Peachtree, with tall curving fins sheltering an inner core.  Except that  the Chicago version is more than double the height of Atlanta’s.

Interestingly, this may be an opportunity to create Chicago’s most exclusive address.  The western edge of the Trib Tower parking lot will be restored as a below-grade street, taking the name Old Saint Clair Street.  The street beneath what is now Cityfront Plaza becomes the continuation of the current Saint Clair Street.  So this would be the only building on Old Saint Clair Street.

  • Address:  201 East Illinois Street
  • Developer: CIM Group
  • Developer: Golub
  • Architecture firm: Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Height: 1,422 feet
  • Floors: 113
  • Size: 1,369,500 square feet
  • Apartment entrance: Off East Illinois Street and Lower East Illinois Street
  • Condominium entrance: Off North Cityfront Plaza Drive and Lower North Saint Clair Street
  • Hotel entrance: Off both East Illinois Street and North Cityfront Plaza Drive
  • Retail access: Off Pioneer Court
  • Parking access: Off Lower North Old Saint Clair Street
  • Loading docks: Seven, off Lower North Water Street and Lower North Saint Clair Street

Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)
Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)
Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)
Rendering of the proposed Tribune East (via CIM Group)

from Chicago Architecture


Lendlease’s South Loop Project Has a Name: Southbank

After its split with CMK over the development of the Riverline project, Lendlease has come up with a name for its portion of the project on the east bank of the Chicago River: Southbank.

Southbank is the portion of the development, designed by Perkins+Will, that runs from Harrison Street down to Polk.   The portion from 9th Street on down to Roosevelt Road is being developed independently by CMK after the two decided to split Riverline in two and go their separate ways.

As we noted in our original story on the divorce:

LendLease’s portion is the larger of the two and Loop-adjacent. But CMK’s is across the street from The Roosevelt Collection and a block from Target. So it’s hard to say who got the fuzzy end of the lollipop here.

Ancora under construction (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Ancora under construction (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Lendlease is already ahead in the race to deliver.  Its Ancora apartment building is expected to be completed this year.  It will have 452 apartments and be 29 stories tall.

You can see in the photograph above sent in by Joe Zekas at YoChicago! that a 2018 completion should be an easy goal to attain.

Here's a handy image showing who gets what in this divorce. You may remember this scene from Hebrew School. Or not. (Base image via Perkins+Will)

Here’s a handy image showing who gets what in this divorce. You may remember this scene from Hebrew School. Or not. (Base image via Perkins+Will)

from Chicago Architecture

New Downtown Townhomes Look Pretty Snazzy

Remember those townhouses we told you about back in 2015 that were going to fill in the hole at the corner of Clark and Chestnut?  If you haven’t been by to gape recently, they look pretty darned snazzy.

111 West Chestnut townhouses (Courtesy of Near North Spy Joel)

111 West Chestnut townhouses (Courtesy of Near North Spy Joel)

Of course, we’re big skyscraper fans.  But you can’t see the skyscrapers if there’s nothing but skyscrapers to see.  Mixing up the land use pattern creates nice view corridors, and this cluster of high-rent, low-denskty housing designed by Booth Hansen isn’t a bad way to do it.

The photograph above is from Near North Spy Joel, and you can see the stonework is being put on the facades already.  It gives the corner a classy look.  And it better.  When we last reported on this three years ago, rents were estimated at $15,000 a month.  Now in 2018, it wouldn’t be surprising if the price was even higher.


from Chicago Architecture

Wolf Point East Rises From the Chicago Riverside Muck

In spite of yesterday’s snows qualls, we’re finally getting to the part of the year when we can think about spring without jinxing ourselves.  Soon Lincoln Park will be full of daffodils pushing through the flowerbeds, the Michigan Avenue sidewalks will be full of tulips pushing through the dirt in the planters, and dandelions will start pushing through the cracks in your driveway.

One sprout that’s not waiting for warmer weather to push through the muck of Wolf Point is Wolf Point East, the soon-to-be 668-foot-tall residential tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli.

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Chris)

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Chris)

With the photo above, River North Spy Chris shows us that the central core of the building is now taller than the retaining wall lining the Chicago River.  By the time you read this, enough concrete will be poured that it will be even with the street to the north now known as Wolf Point Plaza.

When complete, the east tower will bring a little under 700 new homes to River North, along with 3,500 square feet of retail space.  This is good news because in this immediate area, the retail is pretty much locked up behind forbidding facades.  The new tower will bring a little life to street level, and a welcome wind break for pedestrians crossing the Franklin Street Bridge in winter.

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Chris)

from Chicago Architecture

We’ll Soon See Michigan Avenue’s Huge New Skyscraper

Remember a few months ago when Alderman Reilly knocked over a pot of beans about the new skyscraper coming to Michigan Avenue?  Back then, all we knew was that the planned building could be as much as 1,388 feet tall, making it the third-tallest in Chicago.  And at the time, we put together a graphic illustrating what a skyscraper that tall might look like rising out of the Tribune Tower’s parking lot:

What a 1,388-foot-tall skyscraper might look like in the Tribune Tower's parking lot. ( illustration on Apple Maps base)

What a 1,388-foot-tall skyscraper might look like in the Tribune Tower’s parking lot. ( illustration on Apple Maps base)

We also predicted that the next crumb of news about this project would come in April.  Well, it’s April, and in the parlance of our times, “Nailed it!”

Neighborhood group SOAR has called a public meeting specifically for further bean spillage about the massive new tower.  We’ll finally find out what the 42nd ward alderman was on about.

The meeting is scheduled for one week from today — April 16, 2018 at 6pm.  Alderman Reilly will be there, along with reps from Golub and CIM Group who are putting up this puppy.  SOAR is expecting lots of people, as it’s reserved both ballroom nine and ballroom ten at the Sheraton on East North Water Street for the presentation.

Also part of the discussion will be the transformation of the Tribune Tower from landmark historic beacon of free press and media into luxury residences.

But the big question is how exactly CIM expects to wedge a 1,388-foot-tall building into the available space, while not running afoul of BANANAS neighbors and navigating city ordinances.  With a little luck, Chicago could get its first pencil-scraper.


from Chicago Architecture

Moxie Hotel Gets Ready to Take a Bow in River North

We’re just a month away from the opening of the Moxie Hotel (530 North LaSalle) on the northwest corner of LaSalle and Grand, and workers are busy… working.

Moxie Hotel under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Joel)

Moxie Hotel under construction (Courtesy of River North Spy Joel)

River North Spy Joel dunked the photo above into our tip line showing the hotel’s logo being installed on the corner. This is the third Moxie to open in the United States.  There’s already a bunch in Europe.  It has 156 guest rooms in 62,000 square feet of space.

You may have noticed there’s a blank space running up the entire height of the building on what would ordinarily be a super-important corner. There are big plans for that blank canvass:

Moxie Hotel rendering (via Marriott)

Moxie Hotel rendering (via Marriott)

That’s not ad space, it’s going to be art. The Moxie literature brags about the hotel being in Chicago’s Gallery District, which you probably didn’t know was a thing.  Unless you’re into districts and know that Chicago’s “Cathedral District” is right up the street.

The building was designed by DLR Group and developed by White Lodging out of Merrillville, Indiana.

Marriott, owner of the Moxie brand, is positioning the hotel to appeal to the Hubbard Street oontz oontz oontz club-and-pub crowd, referring to the hotel as being located in “Chicago’s designated playground zone, River North.”

Brimming with nightclubs, gastronomical decadence, and America’s largest concentration of art galleries, it’s a wonder we even found room for Moxy Chicago Downtown in this neighborhood! Your first stop needs to be our taco counter, Zombie Taco, which will also have an outdoor walk-up window on LaSalle Drive in case you need to take your taco to go. Take it to your room and be mesmerized by the magic of motion sensor lighting, 49-inch LED TVs, ample USB and power outlets, and, of course, blazing fast + free WiFi. Whether it’s the short stroll to the Magnificent Mile, doing your 9-5 at one of the many nearby offices, or just tripping over club after club, there are plenty of reasons to get out and play on at Moxy Chicago Downtown.

Opening is scheduled for sometime in May.

Moxie Hotel rendering (via Marriott)

Moxie Hotel rendering (via Marriott)

from Chicago Architecture

Tribune’s Love-Hate Relationship With Itself Lands Trib Tower In Court

One of the truisms of life is that wherever there is a real estate developer, there’s a lawyer.  Lawyers and real estate go together like Han Solo and Chewbacca.  Like peanut butter and kids with peanut allergies.  Like politicians and sacks of money with dollar signs written on them.

If you thought the sale of Tribune Tower (435 North Michigan Avenue) to CIM Group was going to go through without drama, then you don’t know Tribune.  Or should we say “Tronc.”  This is the company that so loves its name and heritage that it changed its identity from “Tribune” to “Tronc,” which is the noise your head makes when you’re trying to get that last wet sock out of the washing machine and the lid closes on you.

Custody fights rarely end well.

Custody fights rarely end well.

Tronc is in court because it wants to clean house when it decamps from Tribune Tower for Prudential Plaza.  That means it’s going to take the blinds, the toilet paper, the light bulbs, etc…  It’s like when your girlfriend dumps you and takes the TV remote to each you a lesson.  But in this case, Tribune… er… Tronc… wants to take the big gothic-fonted “Chicago Tribune” sign from the side of the building.  The same building it’s leaving.  The same name it eschewed in favor of the piece of corporate rocket surgery known as “Tronc.”  The noise my grandfather made blowing his nose.

CIM paid $240 million for the Tribune Tower.  For that kind of cash, you’d think Tronc could throw in a sign it’s not going to have a place to display anymore.  The Chicago Tribune — the newspaper not the sign — got a statement reading, “Tronc’s interest is always preserving its intellectual property rights and controlling the use of its historical Chicago Tribune name.”  That word comes from spokeswoman Marisa Kollias of Tronc.  The noise a Mac truck makes just before a Tesla plows into it.

CIM contends that it has the right to keep the sign on the tower for a buck.  Not an unreasonable assumption, considering that of the 6.38 million houses expected to be sold this year, none of the previous owners are leaving  with the numbers from the front door and the mailbox.

But the people at the helm of what used to be the Tribune Company want to protect the Tribune brand.  Strangely, none of the tribunes mentioned in the Bible seem to have a problem with a midwestern newspaper infringing on their intellectual property.

It’s not like there’s a shortage of giant gothic-fonted Chicago Tribune signs in Chicago.  There’s four of them headed for the scrap heap in the next couple of years, anyway.  Two are on the Freedom Center on Chicago Avenue, and two more on the other building sometimes called the Freedom Center across the street.  Surely Tronc could buy the signs from Tribune Media before those buildings are torn down for redevelopment.  That’s “Tribune Media,” as in “the spin-off of the company that didn’t hate its own name.”

What are they going to do with five giant Chicago Tribune signs at the new home of Tronc, the noise a grass-hidden bullfrog makes when you step on it in your bare feet on a damp summer’s night?  It’s not like Prudential is going to let the north-of-the-river newcomers get a piece of their rock.  That thing is carved into the building.

No, Tronc can't have a piece of this rock.

No, Tronc can’t have a piece of this rock. Tronc.

But perhaps there’s room for compromise.  As long as Pru doesn’t mind sharing a toothbrush with a gray lady packing lots of baggage and a funny-sounding name.  Tronc.

Where else are you going to put five giant signs?

Where else are you going to put five giant signs?



from Chicago Architecture