If you’ve ever taken I-290 to or from Chicago’s Loop, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the old main post office building that straddles the western end of Congress Parkway. It’s been roughly 20 years since the USPS relocated to a different facility, causing the building to degrade into the currently abandoned eyesore thousands of commuters pass every day.
The situation has turned into a bit of a mess over the years, with various developers dangling unsubstantiated proposals before our eyes, only to have them suddenly disappear before we could even blink. Spurred on by the area’s alderman, the latest developer, Bill Davies, has finally proposed a plan that looks like it will stick.
Davies’ latest plan calls for a toned-down version of prior designs, featuring a large helping of small residential units anchored by much larger retail spaces on the lower levels. The new project, titled Old Chicago Post Office, aims to produce 1,500 apartments and a new tower addition from the existing building.
The rental units are drawing a lot of attention for their surprisingly small stature. Studios begin at just 280 square feet. One-bedroom apartments are slightly bigger, at 350 square feet – and two-bedrooms are looking at 600 square feet to start. Given the location, prices are expected to be in the range of $4 per square foot, which means that renters would be looking at $1,100 in rent each month for the smallest unit.
Still, Davies is confident that the spaces will sell despite the small size. The first wave of developments could begin as soon as March, with 300 apartments being built in each phase. Obviously, the 2.7 million-square-foot post office will house a majority of the units, though the new 100-story skyscraper will assuredly take on a large chunk of the development as well.
As for the commercial spaces, ideas ranging from a hotel, waterpark, auto mall, and even a casino have been floated about. Still, the likely tenant is expected to be something along the lines of an Ikea. The incredibly large area for storage and retail floor space makes for an attractive option among those with a stockpile of larger items.
No matter which businesses end up calling the Old Chicago Post Office home, it’s surely a large development in both residential and commercial real estate. Businesses continue to flock to Chicago each year, and large-scale implementations like this only add to the city’s polished resume.