113-Story Michigan Avenue Tower Refined, Not Chopped

If you were worried that the new super tall skyscraper planned for Chicago’s Magnificent Mile was going to be shortened — or worse, cancelled — you can unclench your buttcheeks; everything is fine.

At a public meeting tonight, Los Angeles developer CIM Group and Streeterville’s Golub showed an anxious crowd a revised vision for Tribune Tower East, which they want to put up in what used to be a parking lot behind the city’s beloved Tribune Tower.

November 2019 rendering of Tribune Tower East (via CIM Group)
November 2019 rendering of Tribune Tower East (via CIM Group)

You didn’t have to be asthmatic to gasp at the CIM/Golub proposal when it was made public last spring.  While the design would be considered pedestrian in any of the 32 Chinese cities that are larger than Chicago, it is both modern and beefy, satiating a hunger the city has for something new and noteworthy, architecturally-speaking.  And in spite of concerns from neighbors, Tribune Tower East remains firmly pegged at 1,422 feet tall.

In those 1,422 feet are 200 hotel rooms, 439 apartments, and 125 condominiums.  Including mechanical space, we count 113 floors from Upper North Michigan Avenue.  The developers aren’t boasting about this building’s height or the number of floors it has.  That’s just not classy.

The changes illustrated at tonight’s meeting hosted by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly were all about the bottom of the building: Its base; Pioneer Court; and Lower North Michigan Avenue, Lower North Water Street, and Lower East Illinois Streets.

Traffic circulation was the big topic, with revised flows into and out of the building’s parking garage, hotel pick-up and drop-off, and the pedestrian experience.  

Though it’s nice that a lot of attention is being paid to the lower levels of this area, we have zero faith that the renderings will look like the reality.  It’s not possible to raise the roof under Michigan Avenue and make this a light-and-airy space.  There aren’t enough LED’s in Illinois to make this as bright as the drawings portray.  And unless delivery and garbage trucks are somehow magically barred from the area, you can be sure they will once again bring in ‘da noise and bring in ‘da funk.

Up top, Pioneer Court is in for yet another makeover.  This time, the restaurant is out and trees are in with a half-alee running between North Michigan Avenue and North Cityfront Plaza Drive, plus a few nice patches of grass.  From the renderings, it looks like that circular fountain that everyone ignores is history.  But the 25 names that were once carved into the 1965 Pioneer Fountain will be inlaid into the brickwork of Pioneer Court, creating a “Pioneer Path.”  Something like a very limited Chicago history walk-of-fame.

November 2019 rendering of Tribune Tower East (via CIM Group)
November 2019 rendering of Tribune Tower East (via CIM Group)

Walking up Michigan Avenue, it’s not expected that pedestrians will notice the massive tower from street level, but you’ll sure see it from a sightseeing boat on the lake.  It’s predicted to have a visual impact on par with the Vista Tower, Trump Tower, and 875 North Michigan.

Here’s a summary of what’s planned:

  • Address: 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
  • Site area: 132,241 square feet
  • Building size: 1,999,500 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 15.12 (12 base + 3.12 bonus at a cost of $14,792,275)
  • Floor breakdown:
    • 112-113: Mechanical
    • 72-111: Condominiums
    • 69-71: Mechanical
    • 49-68: Apartments
    • 46-48: Mechanical
    • 26-45: Apartments
    • 23-25: Mechanical
    • 8-22: Hotel
    • 2-7: Parking
    • 1: Retail, lobbies
    • B1: Parking, lobbies, dog runs, private car wash
  • Condominiums: 125
  • Apartments: 439
  • Hotel rooms: 200
  • Retail space: 10,700 square feet
  • Apartment access: Via Lower North Saint Clair Street, and Upper North Cityfront Plaza Drive
  • Condominium access: Via Lower North Saint Clair Street, Upper East Illinois Street, and Upper North Cityfront Plaza Drive
  • Hotel access: Via common lobby pick-up/drop-off area off a private drive on the lower level and a hotel-specific lobby off a private drive at grade level.
  • Parking spaces: 430
  • Parking access: Via Lower North Water Street and a private drive off of Lower East Illinois Street
  • Loading docks: 11 accessed from Lower North Water Street, 3 accessed from Lower North Saint Clair Street

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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