The hulking Old Post Office building that lay empty for the best part of two decades – and that many feared might never be redeveloped – will soon reopen.
What was once the largest post office in the world that sent Sears and Montgomery Ward packages across the country and around the globe has finally been given a multimillion-dollar makeover.
Rideshare firm Uber and Ferrara Candy are just two of the high-profile companies that will be taking offices there and more than two-thirds of its 2.5 million square feet of space has already been leased. There will also be a Walgreens and a food court on the first floor.
The three-block building now owned by New York-based 601W Cos. and that straddles the Eisenhower Expressway is still in the midst of an $800 million-plus redevelopment. That work is being led by the Chicago office of architectural and design consultants Gensler. A riverfront plaza is still to come but already major work has been done to transform the building and reverse decades of neglect – including the restoration of the beautiful art deco lobby.
In a Chicago Tribune column last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin wrote: “The company and its lead architects … moved methodically to restore confidence in the battered landmark, removing asbestos and lead paint, installing new mechanical and electrical systems, stabilizing the facade and bringing back the main lobby’s luster.”
Kamin is clearly impressed by what has been accomplished to date.
“What has transpired so far at 433 W. Van Buren St. is a near-miracle, coming just eight years after the eccentric British multimillionaire Bill Davies floated a loony, $3.5 billion plan to transform the former post office and its environs into a sprawling urban mall and entertainment complex topped by five skyscrapers,” Kamin wrote.
“What’s already compelling is the revival of this building, which, as recently as a few years ago, was considered an irredeemable white elephant.”
Kamin joins “Chicago Tonight” to discuss the Old Post Office redevelopment.