History Repeated: Bidder Backs Out on Second Post Office

Failed bid on a post office isn't first for Bill Davies

By BJ Lutz
|  Saturday, Oct 10, 2009  |  Updated 3:45 PM CDT
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Who Wants To Buy A Post Office?

B12 Partners, LLC

The man who bought the giant Post Office downtown has a history of failed projects. Perfect for Chicago.

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Post Office Fetches $40 Million at Auction

Chicago's Old Main Post Office looms large over the Ike and fetched a price that few local real estate investors thought it could.

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For Bill Davies, it seems history has repeated itself, and this time it may have cost him about $4 million.

The investor from Liverpool, England and Monaco was the top bidder on Chicago's old post office back in August, but late last month was trying to negotiate a reduced price.  A 10-day "cure period" he said he negotiated in the contract expired Saturday without a deal ever being closed.

Davies bid $40 million for the roughly 3 million square foot, Eisenhower Expressway-spanning facility, but local investors said they thought it would have gone for much less, given the amount of clean up and work required.

Saturday's developments should make things easier for the backup bidder, Nathaniel Hsieh, who disputed Davies' "cure period" claim and planned to fight it.  Hsieh said he signed a back-up offer contract with the postal service.

"I am the buyer and we are moving ahead on the purchase," Hsieh said last month.

The U.S. Postal Service could choose to hold another auction for the facility that was turned into the Gotham National Bank for the movie Batman: The Dark Knight.  Post Office spokesman Mark Reynolds said Friday that the agency would not release a statement until Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported.  Monday is Columbus Day, a federal holiday.

Hsieh had said his plans included turning the massive facility into a mixed-use hotel/condo/office development that would have completed in time for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  There's no word if Chicago's failed bid modifies those plans.

According to the Liverpool Daily Post, Davies is well known for initiating projects that never come to fruition, including a never-developed shopping complex in the city center of Liverpool and an unrealized plan involving ... a large old post office.

Once the world’s largest post office, the building at 433 W. Van Buren St 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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