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Restoration Of Historic Old Main Post Office To Begin 'Immediately'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 20, 2016 4:21PM

The new owners of the Old Main Post Office will immediately begin renovations of the huge, long-vacant building, according to a press release issued on Wednesday by the Mayor’s Office. The City has reached a court-approved agreement with developers 601W Companies LLC that will spur the restoration. The project is estimated to take five years to complete and cost $500 million.

Included in the agreement is a series of annual deadlines for 601W. They include roof replacement, repair to all four sides of the building, high-speed elevator installation, lobby restoration, plus new electrical, plumbing, and heating systems.

The strict target dates are perhaps unsurprising given the historic property/fire magnet’s long recent history of vacancy. The building has been unused for the last 20 years. The previous owner, British developer Bill Davies, sold the building last May. Earlier in the year, Emanuel used eminent domain to help kindle a sale. Davies, who purchased the property in 2009, had once proposed a project called The MicroChicago—a campus of pricey “microapartments”—but nothing ever materialized. Davies died the day after making the sale.

“Today is a bright day for the near West Side and all of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said in the release. “After the old Post Office has sat for vacant for decades, we can now begin the work to transform this iconic gateway to the city of Chicago into the economic driver it was designed to be.”

As reported at the time of the sale, 601W will undertake a three-phase renovation strategy that will create office space, a three-acre rooftop park, and a publicly accessible riverwalk.

The Mayor’s Office touted the job-creation aspect of the project, claiming it will generate some 1500 construction jobs.

“Developing the Old Post Office will bring thousands of jobs for Chicagoans and renew a building that has been neglected for decades,” Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) said in the press release. “This agreement is a significant step forward, and I look forward to continuing our progress.”