Fantastic news for people tired of seeing that massive dead post office sulking over the Eisenhower Expressway in the West Loop: The plan to turn it into an enormous residential, retail, and office complex has cleared its final major hurdle.
The building was abandoned in 1996, and every few years someone seems to come along with a plan for turning it into something or other, but to date none have worked out. This latest one is the brainchild of Bill Davies of International Property Developers, with Joseph Antunovich of Antunovich Associates as the lead architect.
Phase one of the plan approved by the city last week includes rehabilitating the 2.7 million-square-foot main post office building (433 West Van Buren Street) into 2,155 apartments, 300,000 square feet of retail space, and a 1,300-car parking garage. Phase one also includes two new buildings – a 1,000-foot-tall, 100-story multi-purpose skyscraper with residences, offices, and a hotel; and a half-million square-foot shopping mall along the Chicago River. The cost for the first phase is estimated at $1.5 billion.
While the Chicago Tribune’s take on the project is skeptical, focusing on financing difficulties, a WGN-TV report indicates that the developer could start construction “within weeks.” The entire first phase of construction is expected to take seven to 10 years.
If you’re interested in waiting another decade, the second phase of the project includes a 2,000-foot-tall, 170-story tower; and phase three is another 100-story combo residential/office/hotel tower. WGN-TV indicates there is a chance that there might possibly may be some indication that there could be a downtown casino in phase two. But that’s far in the future, and subject to the whims of Springfield.
That’s a lot of numbers, and a long way in the future. It’s enough to discourage a young architecture enthusiast. But remember, Lakeshore East in The Loop is a little over a decade along, and it has probably another ten years worth of construction still to come.
With the Post Office rehabilitation plan approved by the city’s Plan Commission and sporting a stamp of approval from 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, the only question mark now is whether Mr. Davies can line up enough banks to come up with the $1.5 billion he needs to finish the first part.
To see the difference between Phase One and Phase Two, use our super-kawaii slider tool below.