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Tribune Media Unveils Plans for Massive Chicago Riverfront Redevelopment

Media Company Hopes to Lure Amazon with 9-Million-SF Mixed-Use Project On 37 Acres Along Chicago River's North Branch
October 4, 2017
Street-level view rendering from Grand Avenue of the River District project proposed by Tribune Media.
Street-level view rendering from Grand Avenue of the River District project proposed by Tribune Media.
Tribune Media Co. has submitted planned development and rezoning documents aimed at transforming its 37-acre printing plant industrial site along the North Branch of the Chicago River into an 18-building neighborhood and commercial center totaling 9 million square feet of office, hotel and shopping, along with 5,900 housing units.

The master planned project is the next phase of Tribune Media’s effort to monetize its real estate portfolio. Last year, the media company sold its signature neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, home of the Chicago Tribune, along with Los Angeles Times Square and the Olympic Printing Plant in Los Angeles, for a combined total of nearly $700 million.

Tribune Media officials, in a presentation Wednesday to the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s, said the project dubbed the River District at 777 W. Chicago Ave. could generate 19,000 jobs in a new neighborhood which the company defines as "a landmark urban tech-centric neighborhood that will reflect how people want to live and work."

The project, bounded by Grand Avenue, Chicago Avenue, Halsted and the Chicago River, would extend Chicago’s downtown district and establish a natural connection between The Loop, River North, Fulton Market and River West.

Tribune Media has already submitted the site to the city as a potential home for Amazon’s highly coveted second headquarters. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has moved aggressively and with characteristic confidence to lure Amazon and its headquarters, which is being pursued by virtually every large U.S. metro.

"The River District plan leverages best practices from Chicago and other major cities and reflects how people want to live and work today," said Murray McQueen, president of Tribune Real Estate Holdings. "Our goal is to create the same in-demand dynamic neighborhood seen in tech centers such as San Francisco and Seattle."

The project could generate about $1.1 billion in municipal tax benefit to the city over the next 20 years. The first phase of the redevelopment will occur on the southern end of the 777 W. Chicago site on 18 "shovel ready" acres that could support 5.5 million square feet of commercial property beginning in 2020.

The second phase redeveloping the remaining 12 acres could be built out later based on market demand and support an additional 3.7 million square feet.
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