Redeveloped Tribune Tower has its first retail tenant: The Museum of Ice Cream

By Robert Channick

CHICAGO — Tribune Tower, the neo-Gothic landmark being redeveloped as luxury condos on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue, has its first retail tenant: the Museum of Ice Cream.

An experiential museum that features immersive, whimsical exhibits — and its own brand of ice cream — the Museum of Ice Cream signed a seven-year lease for 13,544 square feet, with plans to open in the spring, the building’s developers said Wednesday.

The Shops at Tribune Tower are the 50,000-square-foot, first-floor retail component of the 36-story building that once was home to the Chicago Tribune. Developers CIM Group and Golub & Co. bought the tower for $240 million in 2016, and are transforming the former monument to journalism into high-end condominiums.

Launched in 2016 in New York, where the Museum of Ice Cream is headquartered, Chicago will be the fourth location for the unusual retail concept, joining Austin, Texas; Singapore and the New York flagship.

Plans for the Chicago location include a CTA-inspired “L” car called the Sprink-L, a giant dessert-themed miniature golf course, a sprinkle pool and an “eclectic” cafe with outdoor seating, opening onto redeveloped public space at Pioneer Court, across from Apple’s flagship Chicago store along the river.

The ice cream museum generates revenue through admission tickets and on-site sales, with other marketing concepts in the works.

“The opportunity to open one of the most ambitious formats of Museum of Ice Cream at Tribune Tower on the Magnificent Mile is incredibly exciting,” Maryellis Bunn, co-founder and creative director at the museum, said in a news release.

Shaul Kuba, co-founder and principal of Los Angeles-based CIM Group, said the museum is the right fit for the re-imagined retail landscape at Tribune Tower, and North Michigan Avenue.

“The future of retail has got to be open-minded to other ideas and other concepts and clearly, the Museum of Ice Cream is a new idea, a new concept,” Kuba told the Tribune. “It’s important for us to make sure that the retail that’s coming to our property is something that will attract people to come out and be around the property.”

The museum will occupy more than a fourth of the retail footprint at Tribune Tower. Kuba said the property is looking at diverse categories — from cafes and fast-food restaurants to larger stores — to complete the retail roster.

Dylan’s Candy Bar occupied a similar space and niche before exiting Tribune Tower in 2018, as the nearly century-old property at 435 N. Michigan Ave. was emptied for the ambitious redevelopment. The Chicago Tribune moved its newsroom to Prudential Plaza in 2018, only to exit its lease early amid the pandemic and move again to its Freedom Center printing plant in January.

Built in 1925, the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s new headquarters. It was named a Chicago landmark in 1989.

The residential renovations have turned the office building and former home of the Tribune into 162 “storied residences,” according to the online sales brochure. Amenities include a landscaped third-floor courtyard where the newsroom once stood, an indoor pool, a private dog park, a fitness room and 25th-floor outdoor terrace framed by the building’s signature flying buttresses.

Last month, a four-bedroom condo with an outdoor terrace on the 22nd floor sold for a reported $8.1 million.

“Some people already moved into the building,” Kuba said. “We’re very pleased with the sales pace that we have, we’re very pleased with the pricing we’ve been getting, and so I think people appreciate the product when they see it.”


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.