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Tribune Tower redeveloper sues departing newspaper to keep its sign

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The building’s new owners want the iconic lettering to remain in place after the paper moves out in June

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A plan to redevelop Chicago’s famous Tribune Tower into condominiums took an unexpected turn this week as a disagreement between the building’s new owners and its departing namesake tenant—the Chicago Tribune—landed in court. The legal battle centers around ownership of the building’s iconic signage overlooking Pioneer Court.

A venture comprising of developers CIM Group and Golub filed suit with the Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday, the Tribune first reported. The new owners claim they have the right to buy the Gothic style letting—as well as any other “roof installations”— for $1 under a pre-existing lease agreement, according to suit.

The complaint argues that the “roof installation” provision put in place by the building’s previous owner transferred with the sale and created an “expectation that the rare and special sign bearing the name ‘Chicago Tribune’ would remain.” CIM and Golub acquired the tower and its adjacent parcels in 2016 for $240 million.

While the report said it was unclear if the Tribune had plans to relocate the contested sign to its new offices at nearby Prudential Plaza, the newspaper says it intends to remove the trademarked logo once it and parent company Tronc fully move out by the end of June.

Sign or no sign, the conversion of the landmarked 1925 tower into 165 residences is only part of CIM and Golub’s grand plans for the Mag Mile site. The developers are also seeking approval to construct a soaring, 1,300-foot-tall combination residential and hotel skyscraper atop a parking lot to the immediate east.

Though no renderings of the proposed supertall tower have been released, more details are expected to emerge at an upcoming public presentation set for April 16. Hosted by Alderman Brendan Reilly and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), the community meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. in ballrooms 9 and 10 of the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

The narrow site of the proposed skyscraper next to Tribune Tower [right].
Original image by Google Earth