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Here's an update:

Trump unwraps building plan

Skyscraper would be city's 4th-tallest; completion set for 2007

By Mary Umberger and Thomas A. Corfman

Tribune staff reporters

Published September 24, 2003

Charging into Chicago in the midst of a questionable real estate climate, Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled plans for his massive mixed-use skyscraper on the site of the Chicago Sun-Times building.

Trump said that construction on the 2.4 million-square-foot Trump International Hotel & Tower would begin next summer with the demolition of the Sun-Times building and that the tower would be ready for occupancy in 2007.

The 90-story structure will include condominiums, office space, a "condominium hotel," retail stores and restaurants. At 1,125 feet, it would be the city's fourth-tallest skyscraper, two feet shorter than the John Hancock Center.

The plan has been scaled back since 2001, when Trump announced he would build a 150-story building. That plan was loudly criticized for overwhelming the space along the Chicago River at 401 N. Wabash Ave.

Acknowledging the criticism, Trump said Tuesday that the design changed because the original size became less desirable after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"Prior to Sept. 11, we had plans for 150 stories, the tallest building in the world," he said. "What we end up with is a better building, a more practical building."

He also ends up in a questionable real estate climate in Chicago, where both the office and condo markets have entered a slump.

Some real estate analysts say that even though the city's condo boom has greatly subsided, the residential part of the plan could have relatively little competition at its highest end.

Trump's condos, on the 40th through 88th floors, will range from $470,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $8.7 million for an 11,616-square-foot penthouse.

"We've had very little new construction of high-end condos until the last two years," said Gail Lissner, who tracks the downtown residential market for Appraisal Research Counselors. "There has been a lot of pent-up demand for high-end luxury. Most of the [downtown] development in the late 1990s was middle market."

Others are less optimistic.

"He doesn't have financing, and most lenders are going to insist on [having significant numbers of] pre-sales before giving him financing," said James Kinney, president of Rubloff Residential Real Estate, which is known for sales of high-end Gold Coast properties.

"In this market, the investor crowd has gone to the sidelines. At the prices they're looking at, I don't think you can convince them of turning a profit in 2007."

Trump said he wasn't worried about financing the structure, which would be topped by television broadcasting antennas and which could cost as much as $650 million.

"It's very easy for me to get financing," he said. "Every major financial institution wants to be involved in this deal."

Although the condo hotel concept is fairly well known in other major cities and in Europe, it has been relatively untried in Chicago. Under the concept, hotel suites are sold as condominiums to private buyers, who allow the hotel to rent them out when they're not in use.

"If you're talking about 2007 and beyond, that time frame is good news" for Trump, said Melinda McKay, who analyzes the hotel market for Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago. "The hotel market has undergone a severe downturn over the past couple of years, though now Chicago is one of the better-performing markets in the U.S.

"It's an excellent location, and the condo approach to financing hotel development is becoming increasingly popular. Trump did the same thing in New York. I think it could work."

The office market is also a hurdle, and Trump is offering far less office space than originally planned. The initial plan of more than 1.2 million square feet was cut to 351,500 in the version announced Tuesday.

The Sun-Times could account for as much as third of that if it moves back in, an option that has been under consideration since parent company Hollinger International Inc. announced the joint venture with Trump more than two years ago.

"They could very well come back. ... We're trying to work out a deal," Trump said.

The Sun-Times is still evaluating its options, including short-term arrangements, should it decide to return, said Publisher F. David Radler, who is also president and chief operating officer of Chicago-based Hollinger International.

Despite the reduced office space, which will be on the 17th through 26th floors, Trump insisted that interest among potential tenants is strong.

Although Trump is confident about finding financing, some experts said the deal didn't depend as much on his financial wizardry as on his marketing machine's ability to sell condos and sign leases with office tenants and retailers.

"This is not an environment in which lenders are looking to take a lot of risk," said Bruce Cohen, chief investment officer of Chicago-based real estate investment bank Cohen Financial

"When all is said and done, the project has to have some of the risk taken out of it. If it's residential, it's pre-sales. If it's retail or office space, it's got to be pre-leased."



DECEMBER 2001: The first version of Trump Tower Chicago is made public. It is sharply criticized as too bulky and a visual bore.


JULY 2002: Architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill dramatically alters the original design, making it less a series of stacked boxes and more an essay in soaring verticality.


SEPTEMBER 2003: With fewer floors devoted to offices, Smith further slims the tower, refining its glass exterior and breaking down its scale so it is less domineering alongside the Wrigley Building.


Donald Trump describes his planned Trump Tower of Chicago, to be built on the site of the Sun-Times building on the Chicago River.

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It's good to see that there are still real plans for major skyscrapers in the USA. The building looks sleek and impressive. The cost of high rise living in Chicago is amazingly reasonable compared to other cities like NY, Boston and SF. I can't imagine those condos lasting long on the market.

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I don't see any tacky brass or T R U M P in GIANT letters. This can't be the same Trump I'm thinking of. :huh:

People in NYC are kinda dissappointed (well really dissappointed) in what Trump has done. He has so much real estate in New York, he really could have left the city with another Rockefeller Center, a really great project, but he's just spread around a bunch of really crappy buildings. Looks like Chicago may be the city to finally benefit from Trump's pocketbook.

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Awesome! This is great news. If anything I figured it would be shortened. In this case I'm happy to see that I'm wrong! Is it still supposed to begin construction this year? The Sun-Times still needs to move the people out of the building and demolish it. I don't see it starting construction until next year myself.

I think Trump needs to go to San Diego. He needs to challenge the FAA & try to build a tower taller than 500 feet. If any one person can get their height limit lifted it would be him.

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He was thinking about going to L.A. I think LAUSD bought the property he was going to build the tower on though. I haven't heard anything in a while. Maybe he should shift his search south a few miles to SD. That would be so awesome (as long as it wasn't a tall ugly box).

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The latest has it construction will begin late this year, or first thing 2005 at the very latest. I'm definately impressed with this recent change by the Trump team. Even the spire, IMO, looks better. I wonder if those rings on the lower part will glow at night. That would be cool.

There are many cities that need the "Trump touch." Yeah, he did try to get something built in LA a couple times. One was a WTB proposal, and the other was a more modest ~1300 foot tall proposal. Both proposals, unfortunately, were never really given a chance.


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