After sitting vacant for more than two decades and surviving multiple fires and multiple code compliance issues, restoration work is well underway on the historic Art Moderne Old Main Post Office. For over 25 years, the reuse of this historic building has been a top priority for the Chicago preservation community. Multiple schemes had been presented over the years, many which included partial demolition of the portions of this massive building. Preservation Chicago is thrilled that the ongoing restoration work will restore the entire historic structure. Exterior facade repair and restoration work began in October 2016. Restoration efforts on the Art Moderne lobby began in March 2017. The current focus is to replace the building’s windows which number 2,404.
601W Companies hired the Gensler design firm to lead the massive $500 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.
From the redevelopment renderings, the historic building appears to be largely left intact and restored. Future improvements include upgraded elevators, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. New amenities will include an extensive three-acre rooftop park/fitness center. A landscaped Riverwalk and outdoor cafes will line the river frontage.
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 would like to encourage a Chicago Landmark Designation of the building and its spectacular two-story lobby.