Construction Update
A Close Look at the Demolition of the Tribune Tower

We really don’t know how to feel about this.

Streeterville Spy Joel sent in the photographs on this page showing the demolition happening at the once and future Tribune Tower.

September 2019 Tribune Tower renovation (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel.)
September 2019 Tribune Tower renovation (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel.)

You can see all kinds of work being done.  Walls are being torn down, balconies are being put up, and there’s a tailings pile from some presumably tracked machine spinning around inside the venerable skyscraper turning its innards into rubble.  If you dig through that pyramid of bricks and brimstone you might find my former journalism career.

September 2019 Tribune Tower renovation (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel.)
If anyone finds a Yomiuri Giants hat in there, let me know.

If you’re not sure what’s happening here, we’ll let the city building permit summarize:

ADAPTIVE REUSE OF EXISTING LANDMARK OFFICE AND RETAIL BUILDING TO MIXED USE TOWER WITH 162 CONDOMINIUMS, GROUND FLOOR RETAIL, AND LOWER LEVEL PARKING. INCLUDES 4 STORY ADDITION TO EXISTING 9-STORY NORTH STRUCTURE.

September 2019 Tribune Tower renovation (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel.)
September 2019 Tribune Tower renovation (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel.)

As lovers of historic architecture, seeing one of the city’s best towers in this condition is saddening.  But our practical side sees it as the re-birth of a building that might have come to a worse fate, especially after its namesake went from global media powerhouse to local media afterthought. (The shark was jumped right about the time The Chicago Tribune Love Anthem was commissioned.) 

In spite of all the temporary ugliness, perhaps stewardship under the CIM Group is the best we could have hoped for.

Rendering of the Tribune Tower redevelopment (via CIM Group)
Rendering of the Tribune Tower redevelopment (via CIM Group)

As for the 113-story super tower proposed to climb from the parking lot you see in the photos above — it remains to be seen what will happen there.  Though it would be the second-tallest building in Chicago, Los Angeles-based CIM can probably handle it.  The developer is involved with over 1,300 properties in the United States alone from auto parts stores to high-profile office buildings.  On the surface, it certainly seems to have the money to make it happen. 

The last time we heard a peep about Tribune Tower East, the 1,422-foot-tall building was going to be 200 hotel rooms, 439 apartments, and 125 condos.  Now a little birdie tells us there’s a notion of 949 “units” in the building.  

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

How it accomplishes a 24% increase in places to lay one’s head from 764 to 949 is anyone’s guess, but the tally is independent from the conversion of the old Tribune Tower.  Maybe it goes all-apartments, with ten on a floor.  Maybe it goes all-hotel and bogarts the local hospitality market.  Or maybe… dare we say… it gets taller?  We have no idea.  But it’s a fun mental exercise that should be taken with a metric buttload of salt.

That birdie also peeps that the name is “Tribune Tower East,” not “Tribune East Tower,” as some have stated.

Another little birdie chirps that Tribune Tower East will use the address 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive, so update your address book. Whatever that is.

If you’re a little birdie, don’t forget to squawk our tip line.  

Location: 435 North Michigan Avenue, Streeterville

Editor

Author: Editor

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

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1 Comment

  1. that kind of sucks I always thought the trip tower had landmark status but did they not ever achieve it..
    are once awesome architecture is being reduced and change to like any other megalopolis…
    are buildings once had just great character from the IBM building to the standard oil to the Sears Willis whatever It is now John Hancock…
    the Prudential building just so much character compared to these new futuristic skyscrapers as a truck driver I look and I see Atlanta Georgia and Dallas Texas and these are all recent these are not turn of the century art deco landmarks with the exception of the Big Apple..
    was a shame to see what it’s going to end up looking like the new trip tower just have the wow factor as the old building..
    many memories are going to be left there great article great reminiscing really enjoyed reading that.

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