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Tribune Media Acquisition Could Mean A Real Estate Boon For Sinclair

Chicago Tribune's Freedom Center printing press operations in Chicago
Sinclair Broadcasting's $3.9B acquisition of Tribune Media includes the Chicago Tribune's Freedom Center printing plant in River West.

Sinclair Broadcasting's $3.9B acquisition of Tribune Media on Tuesday and yesterday's release of the final North Branch Industrial Corridor Framework are dovetailing at the perfect time. As part of the deal, Sinclair inherits ownership of the Chicago Tribune's 30-acre Freedom Center printing plant in River West, which falls within the boundaries of the North Branch Industrial Corridor, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

The North Branch Framework, if approved by the Plan Commission at its May 18 meeting, allows for zoning changes in the corridor's southern portion to downtown service, to accommodate mixed-use commercial and residential purposes. The Freedom Center campus, and Greyhound's garage to the immediate north that JLL is marketing to buyers, would attract top-dollar bids. Sinclair said it intends to sell all of the real estate assets it is inheriting within two years.

Tribune Media was already marketing its real estate holdings before the Sinclair merger. It sold Tribune Tower to a JV of CIM Group and Golub last year in a $240M deal, and announced last November that it was moving out of the tower and into new digs at 303 East Wacker. A JV of R2 Cos. and Polsky Holdings bought WGN Studios in a $22.5M sale-leaseback in February. R2 managing principal Matt Garrison called the deal a covered land play, as the revenue generated from Tribune's lease on the property will allow R2 to work on a redevelopment plan for the site's 10 acres.