In any city as old and complex as Chicago, there are bound to be quirks of history that affect modern day development. The protected cattle path through the heart of the Loop is one example we’ve told you about over the years. Another is the view corridor in Streeterville.
We last reviewed this municipal oddity in June of 2015 when we were explaining to you why the new skyscraper coming to 465 North Park Drive is situated where it is. To quote ourselves:
If you have a hard time imagining what a view corridor looks like, then enjoy the accompanying diagram that friends-of-the-blog SCB put together for the city when it designed the Loews Hotel tower next door.
Which brings us to the present day, and the recent sale of the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue to CIM Group. The chocolate ice cream in that Neapolitan sundae of a deal was the parking lot behind the journalism joint that could easily hold a very nice, very profitable little skyscraper. In addition, there are rumblings that the Trib Tower portion of Pioneer Court could be transformed into retail space. It’s already the outdoor patio for the Howells & Hood restaurant. A proper building would allow year-round income.
With those thoughts in mind, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin approached 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly with a gleam in his eye and pencil in his hand to find out what the bureaucrat believes about the budding blocking building babble. Alderman Reilly told Mr. Kamin that he is going to do what he can to “avoid” retail development on Pioneer Plaza.
But what about the parking lot behind the tower? Well, the rough studies we’ve seen over the years have always situated the new skyscraper on the north end of the plot, presumably to preserve the view corridor. Mr. Kamen notes that neither the former Tribune printing plant annex, nor the former WGN-TV addition have the same landmark protection as the actual tower portion of the Tribune Tower. So, there would seemingly be no reason they couldn’t be ripped out and replaced by something really amazing.
Or really mediocre. Remember what happened next door in 1961 when what is now the Intercontinental Hotel got its second tower? The result is only marginally better than the surface parking lot it replaced. Let’s hope that Tribune Tower II does the original some justice, and isn’t just another bland box that does nothing more than put people in one end, and churn dollar bills out the other.