Another Nail, Same Coffin: Trib Tower For Sale

It’s not very often that we do real estate news on this blog.  But then, it’s not every day that someone tries to sell the architectural equivalent of your grandmother.

Tribune Tower with For Sale sign

FSBO: Cozy vintage fixer. 0 beds/137½ baths. Great views. No lawn. Good bones. Close to CTA. Taxes $569k. Motivated seller. Make an offer!

Tribune Media, the broadcasting division created when a federal King Solomon cut the Tribune Company baby in two, has decided that it’s time to cash out of the Tribune Tower (435 North Michigan Avenue).  Once upon a time, the Trib was a major landowner in downtown Chicago, but frittered away nearly all of it over the last century.

Today, the bulk of Tribune Media is scattered in dozens of locations around the country, with only some advertising and administrative offices left in the Tribune Tower, plus WGN Radio and its less-and-less-often used showcase studio.  The building was previously the home of a mighty media empire with global influence.  Decades of naval-gazing, a few rough economic cycles, and Craigslist put an end to all that.

The remains of Trib recently floated the idea of maximizing the use of the Tribune Tower property by erecting a modern skyscraper to its northeast, behind the former WGN-TV studios, and a smaller building in the parking lot immediately behind the tower’s former printing plant.  But now it looks like that kind of work is being left up to the new owners as the property is being marketed for “adaptive re-use of the Tower and additional mixed use development.”

See the Tribune Media press release below.

2014 Massing study for potential second Tribune Tower and additional building

2014 Massing study for potential second Tribune Tower and additional building


Tribune Real Estate Explores Strategic Alternatives for Tribune Tower

CHICAGO, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Tribune Real Estate Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tribune Media Company (NYSE:TRCO), today announced that it has hired Eastdil Secured to begin exploring strategic monetization alternatives for Tribune Tower and adjacent land. The historic 36-story building sits on three acres, with 305 feet of frontage on Chicago’s premiere street for shopping and entertainment, North Michigan Avenue.

“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,” said Murray McQueen, President of Tribune Real Estate Holdings.

McQueen continued, “This property offers 100 linear feet more frontage on Michigan Avenue than Rockefeller Center has on Fifth Avenue in New York City. 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 Real Estate will explore all transaction options with a goal of maximizing proceeds to the company while creating a compelling mixed-use destination for the city.

Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) is home to a diverse portfolio of television and digital properties driven by quality news, entertainment and sports programming. Tribune Media is comprised of Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 owned or operated local television stations reaching more than 50 million households, national entertainment network WGN America, available in approximately 73 million households, Tribune Studios, and Gracenote, one of the world’s leading sources of TV and music metadata, powering electronic program guides in televisions, automobiles and mobile devices. Tribune Media also includes Chicago’s WGN-AM, and the national multicast networks Antenna TV and THIS TV. Additionally, the Company owns and manages a significant number of real estate properties across the U.S. and holds other strategic investments in media. For more information please visit

Location: 435 North Michigan Avenue, Streeterville



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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  1. I wouldn’t exactly call this a cut and run… They’ve always expressed interest in redeveloping this plot, now they’re just saying they want someone else to pay for it. I’m sure that they’ll be looking for a partner in that, seeing as how WGN broadcasting is one of their cash cows these days. The area is zoned for 2.5 Million SQF, meaning the new owner could more than double the space with a new project… In a booming economy, this seems like a great opportunity to me.

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    • Editor

      I would hardly call WGN a “cash cow.” Q4 2014 results show television revenue of $417,169,000. Internet revenue was $44,559,000. WGN radio is under “other” at $13,130,000.

      If by “WGN” you mean the television station, I’m not going to spend time plowing through the nitty-gritty of Tribune Media’s financial results, but in my estimation without the solid lock on Cubs, Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games that it had in the recent past, it’s worth less now than ever. And even when it was doing well, it was a fraction of the revenue of the company’s WPIX/New York and KTLA/Los Angeles.

      You have to remember, the Tribune Company for decades was a company where the tail wagged the dog. Now that the newspapers are part of a different company (one that in 2013 made more money than the broadcast side), it’s a whole new world.

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  2. “Strategic monetization alternatives” cracked me up.

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