Old Chicago Post Office Sold to Original Winner

Backup bidder says he has lien on property

By BJ Lutz and Dick Johnson
|  Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009  |  Updated 7:55 PM CDT
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Old Chicago Post Office Sold to Original Winner

B12 Partners, LLC

Will the second time be the charm?

Will the second time be the charm?

The man who bought -- and then backed away from -- Chicago's old post office has apparently taken ownership of the massive building.

"We are excited that this historic landmark now enters the re-development phase, and we look forward to seeing it contribute to the growth and vitality of downtown Chicago after many years of vacancy," said the United States Postal Service's Tom Samra in a written statement.  "We wish the new owners of this property the best of luck in their efforts."

The USPS said Bill Davies, the same secretive British buyer who in late August bid $40 million for the 2.7 million square foot building that spans the Eisenhower Expressway, has successfully won the second round of bidding, paid the money and, according to USPS spokesman Mark Reynolds, "owns the property."

The second round of bidding was necessitated when Davies defaulted on his winning auction bid by refusing to close the deal by the deadline because of some unresolved issues with the postal service.  Observers said they believe that was that really meant was that Davies believed he would be paying too much for a building in dire need of repair and redevelopment that costs $2 million per year.

Terms of Friday's deal were not disclosed.

"This is just unfair," said Nathaniel Hsieh.  He's the Chinatown attorney who said signed a back-up offer contract with the postal service that would take effect should Davies' agreement fall through.

Hsieh said he made good on his threat to file suit, but a federal district court judge would not give injunctive relief.  Hsieh says Davies does not have a clear title and that there is a lien on the property.

The building was turned into the Gotham National Bank for the movie Batman: The Dark Knight, and has been empty since the mid-90s when the United States Postal Service moved to another location nearby.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but is not a Chicago landmark.

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