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Emanuel blasts Trump sign as 'tasteless'

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Updated: July 14, 2014 6:27AM

The Donald vs. the mayor.

That’s the clash of egos shaping up over the massive “TRUMP” sign developer Donald Trump has put up on the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower he built along the Chicago River.

On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel belatedly jumped into the fray after a public campaign against the sign on the city’s second-tallest building spearheaded by the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin.

“Mayor Emanuel believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign,” Kelley Quinn, the mayor’s communication director, said in an emailed statement.

“The sign — which was already reduced in size and scope — does comply with the provisions of the planned development ordinance and the City Council sign order. But he has asked his staff to determine if there are any options available for further changes.”

Trump continued his offensive on Twitter, dragging the Sun-Times into the squabble.

“Before I bought the site, the Sun Times had the biggest, ugliest sign Chicago has ever seen,” Trump Tweeted on Thursday. “Mine is magnificent and popular.”

The seven-story Sun-Times Building, topped by the newspaper’s logo, stood on the site for decades before Trump knocked it down to build his high-rise.

It’s not clear what, if anything, Emanuel can do to force Trump to remove the sign or why the mayor waited so long to weigh in on the controversy.

In December 2010, Trump contributed $50,000 to Emanuel and $5,000 to downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), according to records.

When the letter “P” is added to the T-R-U-M already installed, the sign will span 2,891 square feet along the Chicago River.

Reilly said he, too, would have preferred a “clean” façade with no sign at all.

But, he noted, Trump “likes to make big statements,” which is why his name is “large and in lights” on all of the buildings he has built. Since the sign complies with the city’s zoning code, Reilly said he had no choice but to approve it.

The city was sued and lost when Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) refused to approve a sign for Felony Franks, a hotdog stand, Reilly noted.

“Because of that, the Law Department’s general advice is to pinch your nose and approve these things, even if they’re, in some cases, distasteful. For the critics who don’t like it, I tend to agree, but [Trump] probably would have sued the city had he not gotten that approval.”

The alderman added: “If you look just a little bit further west down the river, you’ll see that the Chicago Sun-Times sign [at 350 N. Orleans] is actually larger.”


Twitter: @fspielman

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