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Upcoming Tribune Tower Redevelopment Could See New Condos, Hotel

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Three firms are in the running to reposition the iconic tower and adjacent lot

While the planned redevelopment of Chicago’s iconic Tribune Tower has reportedly been on the table for a while, an upcoming sale of the 1925 neo-Gothic high-rise could see the landmarked structure repurposed as condos, rentals, or a hotel. According to Crain’s, a developer could pay between $230 million to $260 million for the tower, its low-rise annex structure, and an undeveloped parking lot immediately to the east.

The 700,000-square-foot office building is currently owned by Tribune Media, a group that took over the property after a 2014 split from parent company Tribune Publishing. Both firms maintain offices in the tower and may stay put or relocate depending on what a future developer has in store for the location.

Tribune Media has narrowed the list of potential buyers down to three, with each firm bringing a different set of competencies and experience to the table. The first is Riverside Investment & Development — formerly known as O'Donnell Investment. The local firm is behind the 54-story 151 N Riverside office tower and has a previous relationship with the Tribune after signing a deal to redevelop the company’s 7-acre riverfront site at 700 W Chicago last year.

The next finalist is Chicago-based Oxford Capital which is earning a reputation as an expert in adaptive reuse and hospitality. The group sold the soon-to-be-opened London House Hotel in the old London Guarantee Building for a record price of $315 million and recently took over the stalled hotel conversion of the 1916 Atlantic Bank Building at 168 N Michigan.

The third contender is LA-based CIM Group. So far the firm’s Chicago involvement has been mostly residential-focused, bringing a combined 1,100 rental units across its mixed-use Block 37 development and a new apartment tower rising at 1001 S State. It has been reported that Tribune Media could settle one of these buyers as early as this week.

The site’s redevelopment will not be without its challenges. The sheer age of the original structure is sure to throw a few unexpected curve balls during renovation while any substantial changes would require navigating the Chicago Commission on Landmarks. Though downtown’s real estate market is red hot now, lengthy city approvals and a delayed construction timeline adds inherent risk to any project.