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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

In 2016, CIM Group and Golub & Co. bought the Tribune property from Tribune Media, a broadcasting concern, for $240 million. In addition to Tribune Tower, the property consists of three low-rise structures -- a former printing plant, the four-story WGN Radio building and the 11-story WGN TV building -- that connect to the iconic skyscraper.

Most of Tribune Tower's exterior and its main lobby -- a hushed, churchlike space whose travertine marble walls are inscribed with quotations about freedom of the press and courage in battle -- are protected by the city landmark status that was granted to the building in 1989.

Although the other buildings in the Tribune complex do not have protected status, their facades are likely to be preserved under the redevelopment plan, Reilly and a source confirmed.

The Emanuel administration has been receptive to the size and scope of the project, including building what would become one of the city's tallest structures on the site, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions between City Hall and the developers.

Scrutiny from the Emanuel administration, the source said, has focused more on requiring the the new skyscraper has a "top-notch" design and does not compromise the Ogden Slip view corridor, which guarantees the landmark Tribune Tower remain visible from Lake Shore Drive.

Reilly, who as alderman holds approval power over the project in his ward, cautioned the process "isn't even to the starting gate yet." He indicated a general openness to the height on the new building and the density it would bring while reserving the right to order up changes to its design, the exact mix of uses and the number of parking spaces.

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The most recent version of the plans include the following details:

-- The new skyscraper would house 220 hotel rooms and 158 condo units, a source said. The redeveloped Tribune Tower would include 165 residential units, the source said. The Tribune Tower also would have retail on the first and second levels wrapping around the current Tribune complex, Reilly and a source confirmed.

-- The first two stories of the WGN Radio and TV buildings would house shops while the upper stories would be residential, Reilly said. One of the Tower's most distinctive features -- fragments of historic buildings from around the world that are embedded in its ground-level Indiana limestone facade -- would remain but could be relocated to different areas of the building, Reilly said.

-- The future of the Chicago Tribune sign, which spells out the newspaper's name in large Gothic letters on the south side of the old printing plant, remains under discussion, according to Reilly and another source.

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