One of the stalwarts of the Chicago skyline, the 1451-foot Sears Tower is to be renamed the Willis Tower after the New York-based owners signed a lease with Willis Group Holdings Ltd, for 140,000 square feet plus naming rights…
The tallest building in the western hemisphere has been leased by global insurance broker Willis Group and will be renamed as soon as its new tenants move in this summer.
The Tower, on South Wacker Drive in Chicago, was first opened in 1973 as the corporate headquarters for Sears, Roebuck and Co., but the company left for Hoffman Estates in 1992. It is owned by 233 S. Wacker Drive LLC, an American property investment group formed in 2004 to purchase the tower.
Willis Group is planning to move more than 500 staff into the tower. Chicago residents are up in arms about the renaming of the iconic tower, as it is known worldwide as the Sears Tower and is one of the city’s tourist attractions.
Don Bailey, Chairman and Chief Executive of Willis HRH, the company’s North American business, said “Willis Tower will make us a household name among our clients, prospective clients and in the larger business community.”
Estate agents and property experts are wondering why the Willis Group has been awarded naming rights as they will only be inhabiting 140,000 square feet of the 3.8 million square-foot building.
The Chicago Sun Times newspaper also reported that the tower’s owners are considering another radical change to the tower, recoating it silver. This could save energy as well as help to lure in new tenants.
Whether or not the tower’s new name will be accepted into the hearts of Chicagoans remains to be seen- I predict it will still be known as the Sears Tower in thought if not in name.
In related news- yesterday TheMoveChannel.com reported that construction on what will be western Europe’s tallest tower, The Shard London Bridge, began in London yesterday, March 16th.News submitted by Dan Johnson, The Move Channel