Sneed exclusive: Updates to the John Hancock could include a name change

SHARE Sneed exclusive: Updates to the John Hancock could include a name change

A rendering shows the glass structure on the front of the John Hancock Center where a new name could be displayed. | Provided rendering

Sneed exclusive . . .

Are changes coming to another iconic Chicago building?

Is the John Hancock in danger of getting a new signature?


On the heels of news that the Willis Tower — nee Sears Tower — is changing hands, Sneed hears the Hearn Company — which owns the commercial portion of the John Hancock Center — is proposing changes to the historic structure.

RELATED: Willis Tower sale boasts highest price in Chicago’s hot office-property market

Sneed hears they are pitching proposals that could include a naming rights deal because the John Hancock company no longer owns the building. Calls to the Hearn Company seeking comment were not returned.

And if you thought the Trump sign caused a stink, preservation folks are already fuming over proposed changes to the John Hancock Center that include plans for huge, bold new illuminated signage.

Sneed is told Stephen Hearn, whose company owns the commercial segment of the Hancock, “is proposing building a glassy enclosure to house a recording studio, which would encroach on the plaza — and emblazon it with a huge sign which could essentially rename the entity,” said a top Sneed source who is familiar with a pitch made to Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Bob Fioretti (2nd) nine months ago.

“The renaming would also involve the caplets over the doors of the prestigious building, which are inscribed with the John Hancock name,” the source said.

Renderings obtained exclusively by Sneed show a multi-lighted glass sign facing Michigan Avenue, which could prominently display a new name, as part of the street-level changes.

Changing colors set to music are part of the pitch, and preservationists liken it to a Vegas-style, lit-up mess, according to Ward Miller, who is executive director of Preservation Chicago.

Those angry about being caught flat-footed on the Trump sign are already discussing ways to grant historic landmark status to the building at 875 N. Michigan Ave. so it doesn’t begin to look like Times Square.

“We are planning to recommend to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to consider designating the John Hancock building as a Chicago landmark because of its huge importance to the history of Chicago,” Miller said.

“We are concerned about any modifications to the building and its plaza because it is an iconic building; the first superstructure of its kind built in Chicago which really changed our city’s perspective as to what is a tall building,” he said.

“It really impacted the Near North Side and the surrounding communities of Streeterville, the Gold Coast and the lakefront.

“We have a packet of renderings showing modifications to the building’s entry canopies and plaza, which include a glass curtain wall which extends three or four floors.

“Who would have ever believed Marshall Field & Company would have disappeared, or the Sears Tower,” he added.


Running with scissors . . .

Memo to readers of the New York Post, which reported President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett ratted out Hillary Clinton’s private email to the press.

Think again.

• To wit: Jarrett may be an egoist, but she is no dummy.

• Translation: If Hillary’s the next occupant of the White House, Jarrett is going to need the former secretary of state’s support for her future business career to flourish.

Running with Rauner . . .


It looked like a scene from “House of Cards”!

Sneed hears Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new bodyguards were acting akin to Secret Service agents prior to the gov’s attendance Saturday at former Mayor Richard M. Daley and family’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party at Chicago Cut Steakhouse.

“The bodyguards cased out every corner of the Cut; scurrying all over the place and acting much like the Secret Service does when President Obama ate here,” a top Sneed source said.

“You would have thought it was D-Day. . . . Very much different than when Gov. Pat Quinn was here as an invited guest at the same function,” added the source.

Sneedlings . . .

Best wishes to the Chicago Police Department’s stellar Terry Angone, who just retired after nearly 34 years of service as the department’s second most senior female patrol officer. She and hubby, Bob, will be traveling with their Siberian huskies, Sasha and Lillie — preferably to cool places? . . . Tuesday’s birthdays: Rob Lowe, 51; Kurt Russell, 64, and Billy Corgan, 48.

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