For sale: Tribune Media puts WGN-TV studios on the market

WGN studios

WGN studios

Tribune Media plans to put another piece of Chicago real estate on the market by selling the North Side studios and offices of WGN-Channel 9, sources confirmed Wednesday.

Opened in 1961, the headquarters of “Chicago’s Very Own” occupies a 132,000 square-foot building at 2501 West Bradley Place near Western Avenue and Addison Street in the North Center neighborhood. The 10-acre property includes a large surface parking lot.

Greg Easterly, president and general manager of WGN, assured employees that a sale would have “no impact” on day-to-day operations of the station for the foreseeable future.

Greg Easterly

Greg Easterly

“Any sale of our building would include a long-term lease enabling us to continue to operate here, just as we have for years,” Easterly told staffers in a memo. “Nothing will really change IF the property is sold, other than we go from owning the building to renting the building.  Same broadcasts, same location, same work.”

The decision follows an announcement in October that Tribune Media hired real estate banking company Eastdil Secured to solicit offers for Tribune Tower, the 36-story Gothic landmark at 435 North Michigan Avenue, as well as Times Mirror Square, headquarters of The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori has been eager to generate more revenue by cashing in on the company’s extensive real estate holdings.

Earlier the company began marketing portions of its vast Freedom Center printing and distribution complex at 700 West Chicago Avenue.

WGN’s Bradley Place facility is familiar to generations of Chicagoans who traipsed through its hallways as visitors to “Bozo’s Circus,” the legendary children’s show that originated from Studio 1 for four decades. The building also was the home of news/talk WGN AM 720 from 1961 to 1986.

“We can do anything here that can be done in broadcasting anywhere, and we expect in time to do it,” Ward L. Quaal, then-vice president and general manager of WGN, said of the brand new Mid-America Broadcast Center in 1961. “We will originate far more live programs in both radio and TV than we have in the past. Furthermore, all live Chicago originations will be carried in color.”