Newspapers shed iconic real estate for $$$ — latest is Tribune Tower

chi-tribtower-p-20120711Editor’s note: Tribune Tower  is an iconic building with a storied past. In the ’80s and ’90s, I visited the building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue when I was a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern.  I met journalism colleagues there when I worked at Time magazine, the S.F. Chronicle and CNET. As parents, we took our son on a tour of the building (including Col. McCormick’s office) when we visited Chicago at Christmas, along with the “Walnut Room” at Marshall Field’s on State Street (now a Macy’s), and the InterContinental Hotel and its spectacular indoor swimming pool

  “Today, due to the migration of readers and advertising dollars from newspapers to the internet, it’s a different ballgame,” as the Tribune is reporting. Now Tribune Tower is going to be part of “mixed-use redevelopment.”  Argh.

Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group has agreed to buy Tribune Tower for up to $240 million, marking the end of media ownership for the historic North Michigan Avenue building and the beginning of a new chapter, likely as part of a mixed-use redevelopment.

Built in 1925, Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Chicago Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s headquarters. It was named a Chicago landmark in 1989.

“Tribune Tower has been a unique part of Chicago’s skyline since the 1920s,” Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori said in a news release. “It is a gem of architectural and structural accomplishment and a constant reminder of the important role that Tribune has played in the development of the city itself.”

The buildings to the north were built for WGN Radio in 1935 and WGN-TV in 1950. The stations’ call letters echoed the Tribune’s claim that it was the “World’s Greatest Newspaper.”

The one to the east originally served as the Tribune’s printing plant. It went up in 1920, anticipating the arrival of the skyscraper that would house the then-flourishing newspaper. Today, due to the migration of readers and advertising dollars from newspapers to the internet, it’s a different ballgame.

The deal to sell Tribune Tower is the latest news in Tribune Media’s ongoing efforts to sell its entire $1 billion real estate portfolio. This month, the company said the Times Mirror Square building and Olympic printing plant in Los Angeles were under contract with nonrefundable deposits, and the transactions were expected to close in the third quarter. Tribune Media also has sold six smaller properties for about $90 million this year.

The rest of the article is here.

(Photo: Chicago Tribune)

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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