Old Chicago Main Post Office

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Coordinates: 41°52′32″N 87°38′20″W / 41.875622°N 87.638769°W / 41.875622; -87.638769

Old Main Post Office over Ida B. Wells Drive.
Aerial view of Chicago with The Old Chicago Main Post Office visible in the bottom right
A postcard commemorating the New Chicago Post Office dedication, February 15, 1933

The Old Chicago Main Post Office is a nine-story-tall building in downtown Chicago. The original building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and built in 1921, but it was expanded greatly in 1932. Its capacity was needed to serve Chicago's great volume of postal business, swollen by the mail-order businesses of Montgomery Ward (the largest retailer in the United States) and of Sears (its competitor). On May 13, 2016 the building was sold by English real estate developer Bill Davies, who died the next day.[1]

By late 2019, the structure will include new Chicago offices for Walgreens, occupying 200,000 square feet and housing 1,800 employees.[2] In addition, the Ferrara Candy Company announced that it would relocate its headquarters to the Post Office building in 2019, occupying 77,000 square feet and bringing nearly 400 jobs.[3] The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago will also be a tenant.[4]

In August 2019, Uber signed a 10-year lease to become the building's largest tenant, occupying 463,000 square feet. Construction on the space to be utilized by Uber will begin in the spring of 2020.[5]


The original 1922 structure was a brick-sided mail terminal building, sited just east of the main building that spans the Eisenhower Expressway as it turns into Ida B. Wells Drive. Major expansion in 1932 added a total of nine floors for more than 60 acres (24 ha), or 2.5 million square feet (230,000 m²), of floorspace. Its footprint, as initially designed, would have blocked the proposed Congress Parkway extension; as a compromise, a hole for the Parkway was reserved in the base of the Post Office and utilized twenty years later.[6] Competitors Montgomery Ward and Sears combined to make Chicago "the nation's mail-order capital".[7] (Montgomery Ward, which became the largest retailer in the United States in the late 1930s, was eventually passed by Sears, and then was purchased and merged.) In 1966 the Main Chicago Post Office came to a halt when a logjam of 10 million pieces of mail clogged the system for nearly a week.[8] With Chicago rated worst in postal deliveries, a new Main Post Office to be located right across Harrison Street was proposed. In 1997, the old building was vacated in favor of the new, modernized facility. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.[9] A February 2006 report by the General Accounting Office stated that it cost the government $2 million a year to maintain the retired building.[10] On June 9, 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the postal service was placing the post office on the auction block. Held on August 27 and conducted by Rick Levin & Associates Inc., the auction raised $40 million, which was well over the opening bid of $300,000.[11][12] The buyer was reported to be English real estate developer Bill Davies.[13][14] While Davies missed an October 10, 2009 deadline to close the deal, he finally acquired the building on October 21, 2009, paying about $17 million.[15]

Redevelopment plan during 2011-14[edit]

Old Chicago Main Post Office Phase II
General information
StatusNever built
TypeSupertall skyscraper
LocationChicago, Illinois
AddressWest Ida B. Wells Drive and South Canal Street, 433 West Van Buren
CountryUnited States
Cost$3.5 billion
Roof2,000 feet (610 m)
Technical details
Floor count9
Floor area16,000,000 square feet (1,500,000 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectBooth Hansen
DeveloperInternational Property Developers

The Old Chicago Main Post Office Redevelopment was an approved 20-acre (81,000 m2) project on a lot located along the Chicago River on the southwest side of Downtown Chicago, Illinois to be constructed in phases over a period of one decade that would have included the renovation of Chicago's historic Old Main Post Office building as well as residential, retail, entertainment and office space. The plan included several towers, the tallest one being a proposed 120-story mixed use twin tower skyscraper to stand about 2,000 feet (610 m) high to the roof, which would have made it the tallest building in the United States,[17] over 500 feet (150 m) taller than the Willis Tower, containing office, residential, and hotel space. It would also have included two 60-story residential towers as well as a 40-story hotel.[18] All the buildings in the development were to be connected via a ground-level complex[19] that would have been built over the Chicago River and the Eisenhower Expressway.[20] More specifically, it was exactly one year and nine months after acquiring the post office property from the Postal Service when, Davies unveiled his plan for the Post Office on July 21, 2011. The proposal, which involved three other properties besides the 14-story Post Office, was broken down into three-phases pending the required $3.5 billion in funding:

  • Phase 1: Converting the Post Office into a retail complex whose main entrance would be through the Beaux Arts-inspired lobby along Van Buren street, the remaining interior would become a parking garage, and a 40-story hotel on the east side of the building. (Approximate cost: $450 million)
  • Phase 2: Building a 60-story hotel west of the Post Office and a 120-story, 2,000 ft (610 m) office, hotel, and residential tower that would be the tallest in North America. (Approximate cost: $2 billion)
  • Phase 3: Two residential towers built on the east side of the Chicago River diagonally southeast from the proposed 120-story skyscraper plus a 12,000 space parking garage. (Approximate cost: $1 billion)

The whole $3.5 billion plan was submitted to the Chicago City Council and the Planning Commission for approval the same day it was released to the public. Only funding for Phase 1 had been secured as of July 21, 2011.[18][21] The proposal was sent to the Chicago City Commission in July 2011 for approval, which was expected to be a several-month process. The project had an estimated cost of $3.5 billion and the potential to create 12,000 jobs.[22] Some critics opposed the proposal, calling it old-fashioned and suburban and an unrealistic pipe dream, as it was largely car oriented (12,000 parking spaces and free parking) with shopping mall style retail.[23] The city voted and approved the plan July 18, 2013.[24] In spring of 2013, Antunovich Associates, who purchased the site three years ago, created a new proposal on the site featuring a 1000-foot skyscraper (with a 2,000 foot tower in their 2nd phase). Other potential uses include a casino and/or entertainment complex. [25] [26] On June 18, 2014, Bill Davies announced the formation of a $500 million joint venture with Sterling Bay Companies for phase I of the redevelopment.[27][28] On July 18, Sterling announced a new relationship with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, which gave them access to new financial resources.[29] However, Davies never found sufficient financing.[7] In December 2014, Davies canceled the project and put the post office building up for sale.[30]

2016 sale and plans[edit]

In February 2016, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel pressed for development of the site, threatening to take possession of the building by use of eminent domain. In March, the city's Department of Planning and Development issued an RFP seeking bids due June 10 for redevelopment of the site. Later that week, with announcement of a conditional sale of the building, it turned out that Davies had been in negotiation since May 2015 for sale of the building to 601W, a New York City-based real estate company which owns Chicago's Aon Center and One Prudential Plaza buildings.[31] On May 13, 2016, completion of the sale from Davies to 601W was announced by Emanuel. Davies died the next day. Vicky Flores, who ran the Chicago office of Davies' firm, commented: "'It was really weird, the timing. Everything was signed off, and then I heard he had died. It was like he waited until everything was taken care of.'"[7] In a $500 million renovation,[7] Gensler plans on renovation of the space into office space, with addition of a rooftop park and a riverwalk.[32] In September 2017 the post office was one of 6 sites in Chicago considered for the new Amazon "HQ2" location.[33] In September 2019, Uber Freight announced it would be based at the site, adding 2,000 jobs.


The post office was used in the filming of Batman Begins in 2004[34] and for filming The Dark Knight in April 2007.[35][36][37][38] It is also seen from above in the opening credits of Candyman. In the summer of 2010, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay filmed numerous scenes for Transformers: Dark of the Moon in and around Chicago. The old Chicago Post Office's east facade was decorated as the "Department of Health and Human Services" where the Autobots were kept by the federal government in the movies. The same interior that was used for filming of the bank heist in The Dark Knight was used again for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. There were also some scattered shots from within the Post Office interior used throughout the film.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Janssen, Kim (13 May 2016). "Day after old post office deal done, longtime owner is dead". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  2. ^ LaVito, Angelica. "Walgreens to move 1,800 jobs into new Chicago office". CNBC. Retrieved 6 July 2018. Text "15 June 2018" ignored (help)
  3. ^ Ori, Ryan (13 December 2018). "Ferrara Candy confirms its headquarters will move to Chicago's Old Post Office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  4. ^ Ori, Ryan (29 August 2019). "The Old Post Office nears opening, adds Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago as office tenant". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  5. ^ Marotti, Ally; Ori, Ryan (19 August 2019). "Uber confirms it's moving to massive space in The Old Post Office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  6. ^ "SkyscraperPage Forum". Forum.skyscraperpage.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  7. ^ a b c d "Day after selling city's Old Main Post Office, Bill Davies dies". Fox 32 / Sun-Times Media Wire. May 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "Publication 100 - The United States Postal Service An American History 1775-2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2010-07-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - ILLINOIS (IL), Cook County". nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  10. ^ "GAO-06-248T Federal Real Property: Excess and Underutilized Property Is an Ongoing Problem" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  11. ^ "Let the bidding begin ..." Chicago Tribune. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  12. ^ Lutz, Bj. "Why So Seriously Expensive?". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  13. ^ Bartosik, Matt (2009-09-10). "Post Office Buyer May Not Deliver". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  14. ^ David Roeder. "High bidder defaults on deal to buy old Chicago Post Office". Chicago Sun-Times. October 14, 2009. Retrieved on October 15, 2009.
  15. ^ David Roeder. "Brit gets discount on old post office". Chicago Sun-Times. October 22, 2009. Retrieved on October 22, 2009.
  16. ^ Alby Gallun (July 21, 2011). "Skyscrapers, retail part of massive Old Post Office plan". ChicagoRealEstateDaily. Retrieved 2011-07-30.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Brian Louis (July 21, 2011). "Tallest U.S. Tower Proposed as Part of Chicago Development". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  18. ^ a b Alejandra Cancino, Blair Kamin (July 21, 2011). "Old Chicago post office redevelopment plan unveiled". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  19. ^ Ben Meyerson (July 27, 2011). "Old post office plans include hotels, skyscrapers for Chicago". Chicago Journal. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  20. ^ Don DeBat (July 27, 2011). "Towering old post office plan air mailed to Chicago". Chicago Journal. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  21. ^ David Roeder (July 21, 2011). "Old Post Office figures in mega downtown expansion plan". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  22. ^ Kate Springer, Susie An (July 22, 2011). "Big plans for the old Chicago post office". WBEZ-FM. Archived from the original on August 19, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  23. ^ Blair Kamin (July 24, 2011). "Plan for old post office: A suburban throwback, and a pipe dream". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  24. ^ "Gazette Chicago » City to examine old post office rehab plan". gazettechicago.com. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: What's in the works for Chicago's old post office?". wgntv.com. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  26. ^ "Antunovich Associates /". antunovich.com. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  27. ^ Ori, Ryan (2014-06-18). "Old Main Post Office revamp gets a boost". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
  28. ^ Ori, Ryan (2014-06-19). "Chicago's Old Main Post Office to be redeveloped". WLS-TV. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
  29. ^ Harris, Melissa and Bob Goldsborough (2014-07-18). "Sterling Bay retools old buildings, reshapes neighborhoods". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
  30. ^ Ori, Ryan (December 4, 2014). "Subscription Center". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  31. ^ Brian J. Rogal (March 18, 2016). "601W Cos. Buys Old Post Office, But Questions Remain". GlobeSt.com. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  32. ^ Jay Koziarz (May 13, 2016). "Chicago's Old Post Office Sold to 601W Companies". Curbed Chicago.
  33. ^ Spielman, Fran (Sep 13, 2017). "What Chicago site might win Amazon 'HQ2' sweepstakes? Here are 6 . ." Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2017-09-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  34. ^ "Batman Begins". 15 June 2005. Retrieved 13 December 2016 – via IMDb.
  35. ^ "The Dark Knight". 18 July 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2016 – via IMDb.
  36. ^ [1] Archived June 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ "Chicago Entertainment News, Local Celeb Gossip | NBC Chicago". Nbc5.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  38. ^ [2][dead link]
  39. ^ "Transformers Live Action Movie Blog (TFLAMB): TF3 Chicago: More from Post Office Set (Updated)". transformerslive.blogspot.com. 12 September 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2016.

External links[edit]