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Tribune Media puts North Branch ‘River District’ site up for sale

Aerial view of Chicago River site

This aerial view shows what the current site ("River District, center) . | Provided

Tribune Media is moving to sell a large 30-acre area of land it owns along the Chicago River, the company confirmed Friday.

The decision comes after Tribune Media won zoning approval last fall to develop an 8.5 million-square-foot campus — named the “River District” — for its site along the North Branch of the river. It was then considered by Amazon last year as a potential location for its second headquarters.

After losing out to Northern Virginia and New York City in November, Tribune Media confirmed it has since hired real estate brokerage company Eastdil Secured to sell the entire stretch of land to the highest bidder.

“The River District is a once in a generation opportunity to transform 37-acres of underutilized industrial land into a new, world-class urban neighborhood,” Murray McQueen, head of Tribune Media’s real estate division, said in an email statement Friday. “We are excited to take the next step in bringing to fruition the vision supported in the North Branch framework and approved by the City Council.”

Amazon, meanwhile, on Thursday announced it canceled plans for the New York headquarters because of political resistance to the state’s $2.8 billion incentive package.

The “River District” is currently is home to the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing plant — where the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and other publications are printed.

Tribune Publishing executives told Crain’s Chicago Business the company has a lease for the plant that runs until 2023 and includes two options to extend it for 10 years each. A Tribune Media representative did not respond to requests for comment on where the publications would be printed if the space is sold.

The broadcasting company could also still choose to retain the entire site and partner with a developer to build up the River District itself.

Representatives from Eastdil Secured did not immediately respond to a request for comment.