Sneed: City’s most famous skyscrapers may get new names

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Could the Willis Tower be getting a new name soon? | Sun-Times files

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Name game . . .Are name changes coming to two of Chicago’s iconic buildings?

Sneed hears the Willis Tower, the crown jewel of skyscrapers, is currently the subject of negotiation for naming rights.

Meanwhile, Sneed is told a name change at the John Hancock Center may be imminent.

“There is a a lot of movement in the corporate community these days,” a top Sneed source said. “I’m told the real estate people, who own the Hancock’s commercial section, are telling people they are close to a naming-rights deal.”

Sneed is also told competition among some of the city’s corporate behemoths is escalating now that the race to own the names of the city’s most famous buildings heats up.

Whispers were getting louder this week that owners of the John Hancock lobby and office space, Hearn Co., may be close to doing a naming-rights deal, which could send condo owners into a swivet.

“I’m told the Hearn company hired a naming-rights consultant, but I didn’t know anyone was on the hook yet,” a City Hall source said.

As Sneed exclusively reported last year, Hearn Co., which owns the commercial portion of the John Hancock Center — waspitching proposals that could include a naming-rights deal because the John Hancock company no longer owned the building.

A call to Hearn President and CEOStephen Hearnwas not returned.

“Selling naming rights for buildings not occupied by the company that’s named is a new phenomenon and it’s something our ordinances don’t really address,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who has ordered a study by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks Departmentto determine whether the building qualifies for landmarking status — which restricts building modifications to respect historical integrity.

Stay tuned.


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The Gage Park murders . . .

Sneed hears the grisly murders of six members of a family massacred last February in their Gage Park home may have been fueled by a romantic entanglement involving an outside family member. (This column exclusively reported police had two people in custody Thursday for the murders.) One of the people charged, Diego Uribe,is a nephew of one the victims, Maria Herminia Martinez—the only gun victim.

The Hillary file . . .

It’s was Betsy’s day.

The Park Ridge fundraiser for hometown honey Hillary Rodham Clintonon Thursday was organized by her Maine Southschool chum, Betsy Ebeling.

Greeted by Betsy and Ernie and Kevin and probably wearing her signature necklace and earrings designed by school buddy Bonnie Klehr, Hillary was assured her favorite former food an olive burger from her old high school chomping groundthe Pickwick eatery (renamed The Pick) would be on standby if needed.

Although it was off limits to the pressand gawd forbid the local pressHillary headed to the Park Ridge Public Librarywhere she spent a lot of time as a kid clucking and clacking with Ebelingand pulled up a library chair for an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

AlthoughHillary, who was greeted by an SRO crowd at the Pickwick Theatre before heading off to a second fundraiser, did not have time to hop over to her old homestead for a visit, the village made sure her honorary “Hillary Rodham Corner” street sign was elevated.


The Sinead file . . .

Where was Irish singer Sinead O’Connor found after she disappeared from the home of friends in Wilmette on Sunday after riding off on a motorized bike?

• To wit: The singer’s disappearance, which caused a Wilmette police/possible suicide search, biked her way to the suburb of Morton Grove —where she was found two days later at a Best Western motel called the Morton Grove Inn.

“We’ve been told not to talk about this,” a hotel employee said. “And our hotel manager, Robbie, will not be talking about this either.”

The singer, who has a history of mental issues, was reportedly taken to a hospital. She had been staying with friends for the past several months in the north shore suburb.

Sneedlings . . .

I spy: Chicago Cubs Cy Young Award winning pitcherJake Arrieta, dining at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse on Saturday night . . .Three-time NBA champ and former Chicago Bulls starBJ Armstrong,spotted at David Burke’s Primehouse on Friday night . . . Today’s birthdays: Cher, 70; Busta Rhymes, 44, and Ted Allen, 51.

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