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Investigating The Mystery Of The Willis Tower's Big Remodel

By Mae Rice in News on Apr 27, 2016 3:59PM

It's been a little more than a year since the Willis Tower sold to Blackstone Group for $1.3 billion, and now more change is afoot for the iconic building (that is still, in its heart, named the Sears Tower). It's a remodel of some kind. But what kind?

Here are the stages of trying to find out.

Stage 1: Watching this wondrously vague video embedded on the Willis Tower website

Here, in no particular order, are some elements of this video: stock footage of the El; a slow pan across a cluster of nice, empty chairs; the interior of a random coffee shop or coworking space; an artisanal pizza with what looks like arugula on it. When you view this video on the Willis site, a banner at the bottom of the video also proclaims vaguely, "The boldest transformation in the history of commercial real estate has begun."

This is only the beginning of the deep, deep ocean of vagueness we are about to paddle through in our mind-kayaks.

Stage 2: Processing the text that pops up on the screen during the video

Let us decode this video's astonishing text pop-ups, one at a time.

Willis Tower is rooted in Chicago
Translation: Willis Tower is a building in Chicago.

Drawing on the culture of the entire city
Translation: Willis Tower is still a building in Chicago. Chicago has culture. These two facts aren't related exactly but, eh.

Major change is coming
Translation: We're remodeling the Willis Tower.

Towering amenities
Translation: We're shrooming and it scares us to think about amenities. They're so big. Willis Tower is so big. Oh god.

Unexpected experiences
Translation: These shrooms are making us paranoid.

The neighborhood is moving in
Translation: We're never doing shrooms again.

Stage 3: Calling someone who's actually working on this project.

This video was produced by Core Twelve for Telos, the group that handles Willis Tower leasing. We spoke with a Telos rep listed as a contact for the project, who said that though they do have more specific plans in the works, those plans are not available at this time.

He did, however, confirm one thing. "There will definitely be amenities."

Stage 4: Seeing if Curbed knows something we don't

The staff at Curbed Chicago has an incredible repository of knowledge about the Chicago real estate scene. According to their writeup of the video:

The most significant phase of the repositioning has yet to be officially announced. While Blackstone did foreshadow a $150 million overhaul of the building that would revamp the tower’s popular observation deck and bring new retail and entertainment options to the site, the specifics of the plan have been kept from the public.

Huh. Okay! Well, get excited for whatever this is, I guess.

[h/t Curbed]