Old Post Office Auction Coming Soon

August 6, 2009


Auction signs have gone up where the Congress Highway goes through the Old Post Office

Auction signs have gone up where the Congress Highway goes through the Old Post Office

For the price of a condo, you very well could buy 2.7 million square feet in downtown Chicago.

Sadly, after 13 years of failed re-development efforts, the US Postal Service is auctioning off what was once described as the world?s largest Post Office with a suggested opening bid a measly $300,000. Hard to believe that at its peak, 5,000 workers processed more than 35 million letters annually, using 10 miles of conveyor belts and 48 elevators. The building was vacated in 1996 when the Postal Service built a new more technologically advanced building just a block away. Since then, many development plans, including a data storage facility, condos and a hotel, have come and gone as market conditions changed.

While one might argue that $300,00 might seem like a steal for this amount of space in downtown Chicago, keep in mind that it?s not so much the acquisition cost but the development cost and the annual maintenance costs. Even in its current vacant state, the cost for utilities, maintenance and security is approximately $2.5 million annually.

The behemoth, which is nine stories tall with 14-story corner towers, is several blocks southwest of the Loop, the downtown central business district. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in a Neoclassical/Art Deco style and built in phases from 1921 to 1932. The total cost was $22 million. A peculiarity of the building is that it was built using air rights over railroad tracks that terminate several blocks to the north, at Union Station, and so it has no basement. In addition, the Congress Expressway literally passes through the structure.

The auction, to be held on August 29, 2009, is one of many that the Postal Service expects to conduct as it begins a major downsizing effort aimed at aligning capacity with declining volume. As the mail sorting process becomes more automated, we may see more auctions like this one unfortunately.

(Stacy Braack contributed to this post.)

We would like to thank Thomas Merton for sharing today’s photo via the Creative Common’s License.
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About Nancy Gaspadarek

With over nine years in the Chicago real estate market, Nancy continues to enjoy the momentous and exciting process of helping her clients buy and sell homes. Nancy believes that the relationships & friendships that she has developed over the years are priceless. In 2007 she made the decision to partner with Catherine Brennan and the two are collectively known in the industry as The G and B Team. ?It was the best move I could have made?, Nancy says, ?Having a knowledgeable and reliable business partner to counter balance your strengths and have a shared passion to provide top notch service and expertise to all our clients is such a blessing.? Nancy graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee, where she received a four year scholarship and was the captain of the woman's volleyball team for four years. Nancy has lived in downtown Chicago for over 14-years in a variety of neighborhoods. Her free time is usually spent playing tennis, golf & running/biking along the lakefront. She participated in the 1998 Chicago Marathon and has competed in a number of triathlons as well. She volunteers with The Friends of Blaine School in Lakeview, as well as Umoja Student Development and loves to travel as much as possible. You can contact Nancy at 773.259.9353 or gandbteam.com

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