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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

The developers have expressed a desire to remove the sign, but the Emanuel administration is hesitant, noting that the sign has a historic tie to the building, one source said. Reilly said what happens to the sign will be subject to negotiations between his office and the developer but said it will either remain on the building or "in a very public space in the city."

-- It's unclear where the new skyscraper's hotel and condo entrance would be located, but options include off of upper Illinois Street on the site's north end and Cityfront Plaza on the east end.

-- The current plans contemplate 365 parking spaces, which Reilly said would not be a substantial increase on the number of spaces currently in the Tribune outdoor lot. The new skyscraper would include an additional 500 parking spaces, located on the second through eighth floors. But Reilly said he has pushed to reduce the number of parking spaces, citing an abundance of nearby public transportation.

Reilly confirmed that he has been engaged in discussions with the developers for many months and added that he's not even sure what iteration of plans are currently being discussed "because there have been so many changes and tweaks made as they've been pulling together this proposal." Reilly called the mix of uses planned for the site appropriate but said the mix of condo units versus hotel rooms and the amount of parking "remains an open structure."

Reilly, whose ward encompasses much of the Loop and River North, has not shown an aversion to tall buildings and noted his approval of the 1,191-foot Vista Tower across the Chicago River from the Tribune site. The height of Golub's proposed skyscraper, he said, is a good fit with the site and does not create as much density as some might expect, given the current plans for 323 condos. (The Willis Tower, at 1,451 feet, is Chicago's tallest.)

"As far as height, the neighborhood and downtown is best served by skinny and tall structures, and there isn't a tremendous amount of density proposed for this building when you compare it to other recent projects we've seen downtown," Reilly said. "The height might be a bit misleading. That's not a lot of density being introduced to this neighborhood. Other sites within blocks have been introduced with far more density, and they have not blown up the neighborhood."

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The Tribune property carries two different zoning classifications. The developers have agreed to Reilly's insistence that the lower of the two classifications be applied to the entire site but have proposed "buying" the right to construct additional height and square footage on the site through Emanuel's density bonus program, the alderman and a source said.

That initiative charges developers to build bigger projects downtown and in the West Loop and then sets aside 80 percent of that money for the mayor's neighborhood opportunity fund that subsidizes developments and projects in South and West side neighborhoods that have struggled for decades to gain economic traction.

Under Golub's current proposal, the developer would pay $13.6 million to the city, another potential political win for Emanuel, according sources familiar with the proposal.

The architects for the condominium conversion of Tribune Tower are Solomon Cordwell Buenz, a Chicago firm that specializes in new, residential high-rise buildings. The new skyscraper is being designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture of Chicago. Smith led the design of the Trump Tower and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building, when he was at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

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