Massive New Michigan Ave Tower Uncovered and What It Might Look Like

We’ve known for a long time that CIM Group has big plans for the surface parking lot behind the Tribune Tower. But we didn’t know they were this big.

The Los Angeles developer which bought the Trib building in 2016 with plans to convert the gothic skyscraper into residences so exclusive the internet hasn’t come up with a word for it yet, wants to put up Chicago’s third-tallest building, right at the foot of the Magnificent Mile.

The building at 201 East Illinois Street probably won’t keep that address, opting for a Michigan Avenue vanity address.  Until a real name is announced, we’ll call it “Trib Two.”

CIM isn’t officially talking about Trib Two yet, but 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly has been loose-lipped about it recently, spilling the beans to the Tribune, itself, among others.  According to multiple news reports, the new skyscraper will climb to within inches of the height of Trump International Hotel and Tower (401 North Wabash Avenue), the city’s second-tallest building just two blocks away. And that includes it’s height-cheating spire.

Very interesting is that the leaked details are very specific.  Like a height of 1,388 feet.  That’s a pretty specific number for a project that is supposedly in the very early planning stages.  What would a 1,388-foot-tall skyscraper look like in this location?  Well, this should give you an idea.

What a 1,388-foot-tall skyscraper might look like in the Tribune Tower's parking lot.

What a 1,388-foot-tall skyscraper might look like in the Tribune Tower’s parking lot.

Again, we knew something big was going to come to this location.  The land is too valuable to not reach for the sky.  There’s no way CIM could make its money back under the existing DX-12 zoning.

That’s an awfully tall building for such a small slice of land. Or is it?  New York has been all about the “Pencil Scraper” for the last few years.  Two of them taller than Trib Two are under construction, and a third has already been built.  Perhaps this is Chicago’s opportunity to get in on the trend.

And it’ll have to be pretty narrow.  As you can see in the fantasy above, there is a little building taking up half of the available space.  If you’re a frequent reader of this publication — and we know you are — you know that city ordinance requires that the Tribune Tower be visible from Ogden Slip.  That means the only thing that can go in the south end of the parking lot is a little squatty little building.  We’ll be kind and avoid calling it a podium.  We’ll go with annex.

We know you’re eager for more information, but don’t hold your breath.  Even if you’re Michael Phelps.  Word on the street is that this won’t hit the Plan Commission until summer, which means the next round of leaks, rumors, and reports probably won’t be available until Aprilish.  Though we’ll be happy to be wrong about that.

Location: 201 East Illinois Street, 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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