Friday, October 9, 2015

Tribune Tower to join Wrigley Building as not being the same once sold off

Driving north through downtown and over the Chicago River onto that strip of road known as the “Magnificent Mile,” one encounters those two towering structures that create such a grand entrance.

Something will be lost when Wrigley isn't Wrigley and Tribune isn't Tribune
We have the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower. Across the street from each other, for decades they gave the impression to all who entered the area that this was a classic portion of Chicago.

IT MAY WELL be the one point within Chicago (which is barely over 175 years old) that one could mistake for those centuries-old structures that give many cities overseas their sense of wonder and history.

So what does it mean that pretty soon, there’s a good chance that neither structure will serve the purpose for which it was originally built.

The Wrigley Building that served as corporate offices for the Wrigley Co. (chewing gum, and for many years the Chicago Cubs) was sold off in 2011 to the Zeller Realty Group and the founders of Groupon. A plug by Sinatra in "My Kind of Town" wasn't enough to save it.

Now, Tribune Media (the broadcast end of the old Tribune Co.) says it wants to sell off the gothic tower that it commissioned in an international architecture contest and where it has been based since 1925.

NINE DECADES WORTH of being the headquarters of Col. Robert McCormick’s media empire that included the Chicago Tribune, its printing facilities and the studios of WGN – both radio and television (although the latter moved to their Bradley Place studios decades ago).

Moving up along Michigan (Avenue that is) back in the past
Literally, the company says it has hired Eastdil Secured to do studies to figure out just who, if anyone, would be interested in buying the building from the media company.

No word on how quickly anything could happen – although anyone who has been paying attention knows that there has been speculation for decades that the day would come when the Chicago Tribune would no longer operate out of the Tribune Tower.

Considering the newspaper already publishes (as in physically prints the paper) from a massive complex on Chicago Avenue just northwest of the downtown area, perhaps we should wonder why this move didn’t happen much earlier.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS when the Wrigley Building literally has nothing more to do with the Wrigley Co., AND when Tribune Tower becomes just a 36-story, 462-foot-tall building for corporate entities that have a taste for the overly-grandiose when it comes to office space.

Or worse yet, filled up with more retail space so that we won’t be able to distinguish the Tribune Tower from any other storefront along Michigan Avenue.

What becomes of all those stones collected from historic sites around the world? Will they merely make for a more eccentric Gap? You can “remember the Alamo” by seeing the stone while sitting inside a Starbuck’s coffee joint?

And what of those stones that were installed in the building with much fanfare earlier this year – the bricks from the old Comiskey Park and from Wrigley Field following last winter’s outfield renovation?

PERHAPS IT IS best to bring up Comiskey – which has been dead as a ballpark and buried under asphalt for a quarter-century now.

What will it become by 2025?
There are those who will let their sense of sentiment linger on and on about how special that structure was. There will be similar talk about how special Wrigley and Tribune structures were on Michigan Avenue in the old days.

While a younger generation will want to believe that nothing from before their realm of existence could possibly matter. Which is a shame!

Because while I know some deals can take years to complete, I think it will be a shame that the Tribune won’t spent another decade as owners of their own building. You have to admit that a full century there would have been something of significance.


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