Back on the market for Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower

Maybe the current bosses will have better luck than their predecessors, but this isn’t the first time in recent years they’ve slapped a “for sale” sign on Tribune Tower.

Thursday’s announcement that Chicago-based Tribune Media had hired real estate banking company Eastdil Secured to “begin exploring strategic monetization alternatives for Tribune Tower and adjacent land” was reminiscent of a similar declaration by Sam Zell, the real estate magnate who took Tribune Company private and dragged it into bankruptcy.

In 2008 Tribune announced it had asked real estate firms to explore “strategic options for maximizing the value” of Tribune Tower, the Gothic landmark at 435 North Michigan Avenue, as well as Times Mirror Square, headquarters of The Los Angeles Times.

Sam Zell

Sam Zell

“Our request for proposals, which is being issued today, is likely to generate media attention and debate about what we should or should not do with the properties,” Zell told employees in an e-mail. “Both Tribune Tower and Times Mirror Square are iconic structures, deeply intertwined with the history of this company. But they are also both under-utilized, and as employee-owners, it’s in our best interests to maximize the value of all our assets.”

Zell’s plans prompted outsiders to speculate about transforming the historic structure into what one called “a high-end condominiums/retail palace.” Another wrote: “Just imagine a penthouse suite with flying buttresses and gargoyles perched outside your bedroom window makes for a one-of-a-kind view, that’s for sure.”

In the end there were no takers.

Thursday’s announcement quoted Murray McQueen, president of Tribune Real Estate Holdings, who said: “The global renown of this building, its unparalleled location and development potential make this an incredible opportunity and we are expecting a high level of interest from a broad range of private and institutional investors and developers.”

Added McQueen: “We see this as the future site of an exciting retail destination, surrounded by world-class adaptive re-use of the Tower and additional mixed use development.”