After decades of sitting vacant, Chicago’s old Post Office is on the fast track for major redevelopment.
The building has sat vacant since it closed in 1995, but finally it's about to be restored for commercial use as the court approved an agreement between the city and the owners of the building.
Under the agreement, the old Post Office’s owners, 601W Companies LLC, will immediately begin an “extensive” renovation and restoration of the massive structure. Some of the first improvements to be made include new windows, a new roof, a restored lobby, and repaired facades to the exterior.
“Today is a bright day for the near West Side and all of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
The $500 million renovation project will ultimately convert the building to useable office space large enough to employ thousands.
Tuesday’s announcement on the deal’s closing comes five months after Mayor Emanuel threatened to seize control of the building, which many complained had become an enormous eyesore. City officials also feared the structure was becoming a danger after the previous owners racked up years of building code violations.
In an added benefit for the city, the old Post Office’s previous owners, International Property Developers North America Inc., has agreed to pay $800,000 in fines.
The reconstruction will take five years to complete, and is expected to generate more than 1,500 construction jobs in addition to the estimated 12,000 people who could work in the building when it is fully leased.