It’s been a little over a year since the Blackstone Group purchased the Willis Tower for $1.3 billion with the intention of transforming Chicago’s tallest building into an even more lucrative tourist destination. Thanks to a recent video posted on the website onlyatwillis.com, we finally get our first glimpse of some of the tower’s upcoming tenant amenities.
Produced by Core Twelve for Telos, the group that oversees all office leasing in the 110-story building, the presentation still only scratches the surface of what’s planned for the Willis Tower. The most significant phase of the repositioning has yet to be officially announced. While Blackstone did foreshadow a $150 million overhaul of the building that would revamp the tower’s popular observation deck and bring new retail and entertainment options to the site, the specifics of the plan have been kept from the public.
A post appearing on the online development forums at Skyscraper Page sheds some light on what may be in the works. The anonymous comment mentioned a brand new two-story retail shopping and dining complex slated to wrap around the building’s base. The addition will likely replace the under-utilized plaza fronting Jackson and the glass "lunchbox" structure along Wacker. If rumors are to be believed, the plan will also include a new grocery store and moving the entrance to the sky deck to below street level.
Blackstone also brought on former DreamWorks Animation executive Paul Kurzawa to help oversee the 1,451-foot-tall tower’s upcoming transformation. Before joining the Hollywood Studio behind hits like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, Kurzawa worked on The Grove in Los Angeles. The Grove is one of the country’s most popular retail complexes and was an early example of the outdoor "artificial main street" style shopping malls that have since ben repeated virtually everywhere.
Willis Tower - The Transformation Has Begun from Core Twelve on Vimeo.
- Blackstone's Bonkers Price for the Willis Tower is $1.3 Billion [Curbed Chicago]
- Is Willis Tower going Hollywood? [Crain's]
- Onlyatwillis.com [website]