After nearly 17 years of vacancy of the old Chicago Main Post Office is one step closer to a massive redevelopment.
Plans to renovate landmark building, including turning it into a home for high-end retail, a new hotel and a residential development, was unanimously approved by the Chicago Plan Commission Thursday.
Under the new $1.5 billion redevelopment plan, the first three levels of the building, which lies along Congress Parkway, would be high-end retail, followed by a hotel built around a series of atriums cut into the core of the building.
The most ambitious part of the 10 million-square-foot project, however, comes in later phases and includes a tower that could compete for "world's tallest" and would occupy the space between the post office and the Chicago River.
This tall order, though said to be years away, could heighten the price of the project to more than $4 billion and expand construction on the site for nearly two decades.
Investor Bill Davies, who gained control of the property in 2009, said he hopes to attract international investors to pay for the project and says a number of investors already have shown interest.
The historic structure was once speculated as a possible site for a Chicago casino, but Charles Hubbard, a representative for Davies' International Property Developers, said a casino is not essential to the development. He did note, however, that "if there's a legal ability," the option is not out of the question for a future addition.
Though the plan still needs approval from the City Council, Hubbad said construction for the first phase could begin as early as September of this year.