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New Chicago skyscraper rivaling Trump's in height could rise behind a redeveloped Tribune Tower

Bill Ruthhart and Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

CHICAGO -- A skyscraper that would rival President Donald Trump's Chicago high-rise as the city's second-tallest would emerge behind the historic Tribune Tower, while the neo-Gothic office building would be turned into condominiums under still-evolving plans described by an alderman and two sources familiar with the proposal.

Envisioned as a hotel and condominium tower sheathed in steel and glass, the new skyscraper would soar to a height of 1,388 feet, downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly and a source familiar with the plans confirmed. That would be a foot shorter than the hotel-condo high-rise that Trump, then a real estate developer and reality TV star, completed in 2009.

Tribune Tower, whose flying buttresses and pinnacle-topped crown have long made it a symbol of its namesake newspaper, would be turned into condominiums, Reilly and two sources said. The tower's upper floors are already being gutted.

The plans, drawn up for the owners of the Tribune Tower property -- CIM Group of Los Angeles and Chicago-based Golub & Co. -- are expected to be presented to the Chicago Plan Commission by this summer.

If the developers win city approval and obtain financing for the mega-skyscraper -- by no means a sure thing, as the saga of the never-built 2,000-foot Chicago Spire attests -- it could be a political plus for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who regularly touts the flock of construction cranes dotting the city's skyline as a sign of economic strength.

However, the plans also pose some political peril if they anger neighbors of the new high-rise whose views would be blocked. And historic preservationists could object to the plans on the grounds that the new skyscraper, which would be roughly three times the height of 36-story Tribune Tower, would dwarf the historic building. The skyscraper would rise on the north side of what is now a parking lot behind Tribune Tower.

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A call and email to Lee Golub, executive vice president of Golub & Co., were not returned Wednesday night. Under the developers' current plans, Tribune Tower would be redeveloped over a three-year period, followed by the erection of the new skyscraper, a source confirmed.

Reilly said he has seen "several iterations" of renderings for the new building, describing it as a thin and soaring structure, but was still waiting to see the architects' final submission. Designs for the project have not been publicly released.

"It's gone through quite the evolution, and I think each tweak has improved the proposed design, but I know for a fact they're not done yet," said Reilly, 42nd. "I'll reserve comment on its design until they send over their best foot forward."

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