Old Main Chicago Post Office Landmarked!

Old Main Post Office Circa 1932, Postcard Credit: Chuckman Collection

After over twenty years of preservation advocacy since it was shuttered in 1996, the Old Main Post Office was awarded Preliminary Landmark Status at the October meeting of the Commission of Chicago Landmarks. Preservation Chicago testified strongly in support of awarding Preliminary Designation of Chicago Landmark status and its spectacular two-story lobby. Preliminary Landmark Status protects the 2.8 million-square-foot Art Moderne gem from future demolition or partial demolition.

The Preliminary Landmark Status designation comes in the midst of an extensive $600 million renovation of the building and will allow the building to quality for Chicago landmark tax benefits. The Chicago Class L tax benefit is estimated to reduce the building’s $19 million annual tax bill by $4.5 million for the twelve year period of the incentive.

For over 25 years, the reuse of this Graham, Anderson, Probst and White designed building completed in 1932, has been a top priority for the Chicago preservation community, including Preservation Chicago and Landmarks Illinois. Multiple schemes had been presented over the years, many which included partial demolition of portions of this massive building. Preservation Chicago testified in opposition to all of the previous development proposals that included partial demolition and we are thrilled that the ongoing restoration work will restore the entire historic structure. Extensive new amenities will include a three-acre rooftop park/fitness center, a large food market, restaurants, a landscaped Riverwalk and outdoor cafes lining the river frontage.

601W Companies hired the Gensler design firm to lead the massive $600 million renovation plan. Located along the south branch of the Chicago River, and straddling the Eisenhower expressway, the massive building will deliver 2.5 million square feet of Class A office space and is estimated to be able to house approximately 12,000 employees once completed. The anticipated contiguous 250,000 square foot office floor plates contributed to the site being frequently mentioned as one of Chicago’s top contenders for Amazon’s second headquarters. According to the Chicago Tribune, renovation of the Post Office represents the single largest redevelopment project in the country.

After the previous redevelopment plan by British developer Bill Davies failed, the Art Moderne building was purchased by a New York based developer 601W Companies prior to an eminent domain action by the City. Preservation Chicago testified on behalf of the historic structure at multiple hearings prior to the potential eminent domain noting the preservation community’s long-term commitment to a good outcome for the Old Main Post Office. Preservation Chicago testified strongly in support of the Preliminary Designation of Chicago Landmark status and its spectacular two-story lobby.

Additional Reading
Chicago awards old Post Office preliminary landmark status, property tax incentive, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, October 6, 2017

Amazon, old post office site is ready for its comeback, Robert Reed, Chicago Tribune, October 5, 2017

Developer takes wraps off of Old Chicago Main Post Office concept, AJ LaTrace, Curbed Chicago, September 27, 2017

Chicago’s Old Post Office building is getting some new windows—2,400 to be exact, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 8/29/17

Permits signal work on Chicago’s Old Main Post Office moving inside, Curbed Chicago, AJ LaTrace, 3/9/17

New Construction at the Old Post Office Continues, Chicago Architecture, 3/20/17

Old Post Office Redevelopment Moving Forward for Real This Time, Curbed Chicago, AJ LaTrace, 7/20/16

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