DOWNTOWN — One of Chicago's largest and most snakebit development sites has a new owner and future.
New York-based 601W Cos. has finalized its purchase of the Old Main Post Office straddling Congress Parkway, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday evening.
601W will spend $500 million to redevelop the long-vacant Art Deco post office into new office space plus a public riverwalk and a three-acre rooftop park with outdoor cafes, a track, tennis and basketball courts.
“The building’s scale and architecture will allow us to provide spectacular amenities, green space and services no other building can provide," Mark Karasick, 601W principal, said in a statement.
601W, which also owns the Aon Center near Millennium Park, went under contract to buy the massive building earlier this year after City Hall moved to seize it through eminent domain. The 2.7-million-square-foot office building has been vacant since 1995 and had been controlled by a venture of British developer Bill Davies since 2009.
Davies received city approval to build a 120-story tower and retail space at the site, but the plan floundered amid the economic downturn. His firm, International Property Developers, had most recently proposed 1,500 "micro" apartments in the post office, but Emanuel's office quickly moved toward seizing the property after deeming that plan improbable.
The new 601W project "will create thousands of jobs and generate new economic opportunities for residents in our neighborhoods, while restoring and reviving an iconic gateway to our city," Emanuel said in a statement.
601W executives previously told Crain's they were modeling their Old Main Post Office plan after their redevelopment of a big industrial building in New York. Emanuel's office said the post office redevelopment would occur in phases over five years, with the building eventually accommodating an estimated 12,000 office workers. Initial occupancy is targeted for 2018.
The announcement occurred the same day another developer said it reached a deal to buy a 62-acre tract of undeveloped land nearby, creating thousands of new homes and businesses.
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