The plot thickens.
The top bidder for Chicago's old post office says he has the money to seal the deal but thinks the price is too high. Meanwhile, the back-up bidder is claiming victory.
Closing on the massive facility was set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, but a stand-off developed in two separate rooms. In one, the intensely private Bill Davies, of Liverpool, England and Monaco, sat alone on the phone. In another, representatives of the post office and the auctioneer cooled their heels.
Davies claims he put more than $40 million into escrow Wednesday morning, but as local developers predicted when the frenzied auction last month pushed the bidding so high, he thinks the price is too high.
By mid-afternoon, the deal was off and the post office announced that Davies had defaulted.
The focus now turns to Chinatown, and the equally intense back-up bidder, Nathaniel Hsieh. His bid for the facility topped out at $39.5 million.
Afterward, he signed a back-up offer contract with the postal service closer to what he says it is really worth.
"I am the buyer and we are moving ahead on the purchase," said Hsieh, who dreams of turning the building into a mixed-use hotel/condo/office development in time for the 2016 Summer Games.
Hsieh pledged to close within 15 days and insisted he has more than enough financing.
But there's a catch. Davies says he negotiated a 10-day "cure period" which gives him until Oct. 10 to try to make his deal happen. It appears, sources say, that Davies is trying to negotiate a reduced price on the building before his 10 days runs out.
Hsieh claims that is illegal and plans to fight it. A post office spokesman would only say that they are "reviewing their options."
If the deal falters, it wouldn't be the first time for Davies.
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.