What you talking about Willis?
Back to my old haunting ground for this little snippet of news. The Sears Tower
, the tallest building in the western hemisphere at 1,450 feet and the 4th tallest in the world is to have a new name
. Yesterday Willis Group
, a London headquarted insurance broker announced they will move all of their Chicago operations into 3 floors from 18-20 of the 110 floor building at the end of July and as part of the deal the investment group that owns the building threw in the naming rights for free. So the iconic Sears Tower will become the Willis Tower.Sears
at the time when the building was completed in 1973 was the biggest retailer in the world, it's now kind of a shabby C&A for those that have not frequented one, and the company moved out to the suburbs in 1993, but they kept the naming rights to what until 1998 was the tallest building in the world.
The Sears Tower has lost a lot of big tenants in the past few years, most recently Ernst & Young who occupied space three times larger than Willis will. The building has as far as I can make out, never been full, certainly it was a bit of a white elephant as far as Sears were concerned in the 80's and recently 18% of 4.5m sq ft building was vacant, although better than it was post 9/11.
The thing that interests me is how the locals will take to it. Chicagoans are not known for their ability to accept change, particularly to their history. I used to work in the 88-storey Aon Center across the Loop from the Willis Tower and for the first couple of years I was in Chicago, people and cab drivers in particular still referred to it as the Amoco Building, which it hadn't been since 1998 when BP bought Amoco.
Ask a baseball fan where the White Sox
play and he will tell you Comiskey
, and not U.S. Cellular Field and Macys
still has all kind of problems with name recognition of their huge flagship store downtown. For generations of Chicagoans that store will always be Marshall Fields
. I note that a petition had already started in protest at the building's renaming
The Sears Tower is known the world over and seeing it's black peaks as you land at O'Hare or as one drives into the city watching it magically appear on the horizon lording it over the cities skyline is a wonderful thrill. I read a little while ago the owners were thinking of painting it silver. I would love that.... the Silver Sears? Oh what are you talking about Willis?