Tribune Media has sold the historic studios of WGN-Channel 9 and surrounding property to a Chicago real estate developer.
Sources said R2 Companies was expected to close Tuesday on the $22.2 million acquisition of the 132,000 square-foot building and 10-acre lot at 2501 West Bradley Place near Western Avenue and Addison Street in the North Center neighborhood.
The deal includes a long-term lease with renewal options for Tribune Media to continue to operate its flagship television station along with CLTV cable news channel and WGN America cable network at the site.
News that Tribune Media was putting its studios and offices on the market was first reported here in December 2015. The move was part of outgoing CEO Peter Liguori’s strategy to generate revenue by selling off the company’s extensive real estate holdings. Tribune Tower, the 36-story neo-Gothic landmark at 435 North Michigan Avenue, was sold last August.
Opened in 1961, the headquarters of “Chicago’s Very Own” 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 housed news/talk WGN AM 720 from 1961 to 1986.
R2 Companies, a privately-held investment and management firm with offices on the Near West Side, owns and operates more than 2.5 million square feet of real estate, primarily in Chicago and the Midwest, according to its website.
After this story was posted, Paul Rennie, president and general manager of WGN, sent the following note to employees:
The real estate sale of our building is expected to close later today, and as you undoubtedly know, is already being reported by some media outlets. For all of us, this is business as usual, there are no work related changes. We have a long term lease for this building with the new landlord.
Our landlord is very pleased that we are here for the long-term and has great confidence in our business.