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CHICAGO-The Tribune Co. is considering the sale of the famous Tribune Tower, at 435 N. Michigan Ave. The company “will explore strategic options for maximizing the value of the Tribune Tower, located in downtown Chicago, and Times Mirror Square, located in downtown Los Angeles,” according to a statement from Tribune Co. The company is currently soliciting proposals from real estate firms. Tribune Co. “intends to maintain an ongoing ownership position in the Tower and in Times Mirror Square,” according to the statement.

Based on median sales in the area and the size of the building, the tower would sell at approximately $200 million, says Sam Chandan, chief economist for locally-based REIS. However, because of the Tribune Tower’s “unique status,” Chandan expects the tower could sell for more than that. “Our expectation is that the property would command a significant premium over the observable transaction prices for recent activity in Chicago,” he says. The property also has a “potentially underutilized parking lot that would come with it,” Chandan says.

Tribune Tower is a 40-story building with 940,000 sf of rentable space with an adjacent parking lot, which is nearly an acre, according to the statement. The building was completed in 1925, according to information on the Chicago Tribune’s website. “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,” Tribune Co. chairman Sam Zell said in a memo to employees.

The Chicago Tribune would be expected to continue to occupy the majority, if not all of its building, in a sale-leaseback deal, Chandan says. “We’ll be considering numerous options to maximize the value of these properties,” Zell says in the memo. “While a near-term transaction is possible, we’ll be focusing on opportunities that allow for some level of ongoing occupancy in both buildings for the mid-term (defined as five years), for farther out (15 years), and beyond.”

With a lease of between five to 15 years, “that limits the set of potential investors,” Chandan tells GlobeSt.com. “It lends itself to a potential investor with a longer-term focus.” Another factor that will come into play is that the Chicago market “has slowed” and that it does not attract as much interest of international investors as other premier markets, Chandan says. Cap rates for sale in Chicago are higher than similar markets and has “a slower fundamental trajectory,” he says.

The Tribune Co. publishes daily newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call and Daily Press. The company’s broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable, Chicago’s WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

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