City Experts

POLL: Should the John Hancock Building Change its Name?

Our friend A.J Latrace over at Curbed Chicago recently found out Chicago’s beloved John Hancock building may be up for a name change. Will this fly over any better than the changing of the Sear’s Tower to Willis Tower? If you’re a true Chicagoan, you wouldn’t be caught dead saying Willis Tower!

In terms of architecture and engineering, the John Hancock Center is one of the most significant buildings—in size and in influence—in the Chicago skyline. Like Jordan and Pippen, Jake and Elwood, Ferris and Sloan, Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow, the Willis (Sears to locals) Tower and Hancock Center together are one of the most iconic and immediately identifiable Chicago duos. But unlike fictional characters and legendary athletes, the Hancock Center is a building. It’s a piece of the cityscape with ownership, and one of the rights of its owner is that of naming.

Rumors of a possible name change go back at least a year and a half, but more recent reports suggest that it’s more likely to happen now than ever. Last week, the Chicago Tribune shared intel on a possible deal to sell off the building’s office space, vehicle parking, and naming rights. And being one of Chicago’s most prominent buildings, it’s likely that an entity paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the tower’s office space will seek a return on their investment by offering naming rights to the highest bidder or largest commercial tenant.

But should the John Hancock Center be renamed? As a building that helped immortalize its chief architects Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan in the world of design and engineering and launched Chicago into a league of its own in building ambitious record-breaking skyscrapers, is it appropriate to rename it? When it comes to preservation, we generally think about a building’s physical structure, but what about its name? Is a name worth saving?

Chicago’s historic buildings are constantly being adapted, reused, and renamed. Just look to the city’s old high-rises and industrial buildings that are seeing new life as boutique hotels and office developments. It’s also equally as common—if not much more so—for buildings to be renamed after an anchor tenant or sponsor. Renaming buildings and structures is standard practice in the world of professional sports and corporate office space. But does the Hancock Center’s importance in the Chicago skyline and the city’s architectural legacy precede its function and role as simply a building?

Should the new owners of the John Hancock Center exercise their right to monetize the iconic building by allowing a partner or sponsor to have their name on the building? Or should the Hancock Center always remain the Hancock Center? What do you call the Willis Tower? How do you feel when you call Chicago’s tallest building the Willis Tower? Does it even matter what a building is called? Please discuss in the comments.


City Experts

North Branch Industrial Corridor—Riverfront Trails, Wetland Parks and Boardwalks to come


Just in 5-17-2017

If you haven’t already heard, a plan has been initiated to revitalize the lackluster North Branch Industrial Corridor. In fact, Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has released a list of transportation goals and improvements for the overall project. The plan aims to reconcile transportation issues for cars, buses, trains, bicycles, and pedestrians, all the while, creating an aesthetic and accessible riverfront. In the meantime, the project is expected to bring about multiple jobs for Chicago residents.


  • Reconstruction of current bridges at Webster St, Cortland Ave, Chicago Ave, and those at Division St
  • New vehicular bridges at Southport Ave and at Blackhawk St
  • New pedestrian/bicycle bridges with a riverwalk hosting separate bike and pedestrian paths.
  • Enhanced streets” with widened sidewalks and protected bike lanes
  • A 606 Trail extension, which connects the trail to the new river trail
  • Reconstruction of the viaduct at Ashland and Cortland and the one on Halsted at Chicago Ave
  • New “smart signal” system
  • Upgrade to the Metra station at Clybourn Ave
  • New multi-modal public transit-way along the entire project


City Experts

Still Really Obvious Reasons You Should Hire A Real Estate Agent

There are blatantly obvious reasons why someone looking to buy or sell property should do under the guidance of a real estate agent. Despite living in a time where folk turn to google to diagnose themselves with the most deadliest of diseases, the real estate industry yet holds secret powers that Google won’t find for you. Read about still really obvious reasons the real estate agent should be your first stop when approaching the market. 


You probably wouldn’t want to perform your own coronary artery bypass grafting? Even if you ran a detailed google search, and outlined a step by step picture diagram for the surgery? If the answer is still no, then you probably wouldn’t want to take on the interconnected business of real estate. Though it’s no heart surgery, we’re not exactly comparing apples and oranges here. Whether you’re buying or selling, a good real estate agent is a licensed professional, who knows what he or she is doing. He can get things moving much much quicker than if you were at home, simply posting a craigslist ad with fingers crossed. He comes with a network of necessary resources only those behind the business are privy to. A real estate agent has that inside scoop on the market; he knows all about those secret houses that haven’t been listed, and he’s good for connecting you to other clientele about buying. His in depth knowledge of the neighborhood becomes a drawing point when he’s working for you, and is ultimately a better search engine than Google itself.


Who doesn’t like a good bang for their buck? When hiring a good real estate agent, you’re most likely to get the most accurate deal for a property. These are the best negotiators around when it comes to selling and buying, as it is the agent who speaks the language of the business. While you may wind up shortchanging yourself at either end of the stick—whether you’re the buyer who’s being charged above market supply, demand, and the conditions—or the seller, pricing under the just due cost—rest assured that the agent will get the client the right price. Typically, the right agent will impact your financial outcome by 20 percent.


There’s plenty of work involved in selling a home or buying one; from paperwork to research and negotiations to appointments. In fact, by the end of the day, you may feel like you’ve worked a full-time job. The agent is an excellent buffer. Why entertain the distress of unpromising buyers, when the real estate agent can do his job by weeding out potential spam. Allow the agent to present the client’s case and interest to the best of his abilities, and carefully handle those 10+ pages of agreements and thick disclosures where a tiny mistake could land you in court or cost you thousands of dollars.


Another obvious reason you should hire a real estate agent is because you don’t have a clue what you’re doing when it comes to this whole seller or buyer process? You don’t know where to start, who to call, how to get in contact with buyers, or how to handle the paperwork. You might be stumped after a smooth transaction, and now you’re left with questions that need answering. Maybe you’re a first time buyer, or perhaps you’ve never sold a property before; the real estate agent is here to solve any of these concerns and does so with expertness. A good real estate agent will be there throughout the entire process and thereafter, ready to help solve any qualms that arise.




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