After paying $240 million for Chicago's famous Tribune Tower in 2016, co-developers CIM Group and Golub & Company are finally ready to take the wraps off their multiyear conversion of the landmark 1925 neo-Gothic skyscraper into luxury condominiums. Urbanize Chicago was invited for a sneak peek of the renovation project, overseen by architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz.
The tour began in the development's more contemporary lobby off of Illinois Street. This area led to a bank of elevators for the northern wing of the Tribune complex (the former WGN TV building), which has received a four-story vertical addition to house more condos. From there, a longer-than-expected hallway lined with art zig-zagged southwest to the tower's historic Michigan Avenue lobby.
Home to the "Hall of Inscriptions" featuring quotes about the press from Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, and others, this lobby is mostly untouched since it was the only interior portion of the building included in the property's landmark designation. The only noticeable changes are some new lounge furniture and more art. According to the development team, the entire project contains $1 million worth of custom commissioned artwork.
Next, we headed to the third-floor amenity level. Here, the so-called "great room" includes a large kitchen for entertaining and multiple seating areas that can be used to socialize or work. One such nook, dubbed "McCormick's study," has the original fireplace salvaged from the 24th-floor office of former Chicago Trib owner Col. Robert McCormick.
The third-floor great room opens out onto a nearly one-third-acre private park with lush landscaping and meandering walking paths. Since many residences have private terraces directly overlooking this courtyard, the elevated park has no seating or grills to keep things tranquil. The more active outdoor amenities are located elsewhere in the building.
The historic tower's main lobby hall is two and a half stories high, so the western portion of the third-floor amenities features a split-level design. A short flight of stairs connects to the game room with darts and billiards and a pair of private meeting rooms overlooking yet another seating area called the "Pioneer Court library."
The next stop was the tower's striking 25th-floor amenity level which is home to a curving terrace that wraps nearly 360 degrees around the building's crown. The space offers outdoor seating, grilling stations, an herb garden, and impressive views of the city and lake between the tower's Gothic flying buttresses. The interior of the 25th floor includes additional lounge seating, a full catering kitchen, and a place to eat if your picnic on the terrace suddenly gets rained out.
The amenities keep going on the seventh floor, where residents can enjoy a south-facing sun deck behind the iconic "Chicago Tribune" sign and more outdoor grilling stations. This space overlooks Pioneer Court, which is in the midst of its own makeover as part of the Tribune Tower redevelopment. The seventh floor's 75-foot indoor lap pool was still under construction during our walk-through, so snapping photos was off-limits. We also swung by the second-floor fitness center, spa, locker rooms, golf simulator, and indoor putting green.
The final stop was Tribune Tower's sales gallery, located in one of the unsold residences. As expected, the condos deliver top-notch finishes, high-end kitchens, and crown moldings throughout. The complex contains 162 for-sale units priced from $900,000 to over $7 million. According to sales director Jeanne Martini, seventy of the condos are under contract, of which 55 have closed. The first owners moved in on June 30, she said.
Construction work is ongoing at the tower's base, which will reopen as new retail space. CIM and Golub have already secured a long-term commitment from the Museum of Ice Cream to occupy 13,000 square feet in the tower. Crews are also putting the finishing touches on renovations to Nathan Hale Court along Michigan Avenue. The famous bronze statue of Nathan Hale will be making a return to his namesake courtyard, but poor Mr. Hale is currently entombed in a wooden box marked "top-heavy."
With the Tribune Tower renovation all but complete, CIM and Golub can next turn their attention to the project's second phase: a 1,422-foot skyscraper slated to rise at the vacant parcel located just to the east of the historic tower (formerly a Tribune employee parking lot). It's unclear when the developers intend to break ground on the "Tribune East" supertall, which won city zoning approval in 2020.