Plans would put skyscraper at old post office site

July 22, 2011 3:20:52 PM PDT
Some big-time developers that trade in dreams are projecting a whole new look for the southwest Loop: A massive new retail, entertainment and business complex that has at its center Chicago's old post office, the 3 million square foot behemoth that has sat empty for a decade and a half.

Hardly anyone has gone inside since it was shuttered in 1995, but ABC7 got to see what a Monaco-based developer thinks can be done with it.

Silence smells like dust on the fourth floor of the old Chicago post office -- one of nine floors in this landmark building that stretches from Van Buren south to Harrison and which is so big cars pass through its midsection.

International Property Developers bought this building for $27 million. Their vision would have it turned into a blazing symbol of American might.

At the architecture offices of Booth Hansen the post office is reimagined, with its soaring ceilings, sturdy structure and workmanship from a bygone era inspiring a multi-tower development over 16 million square feet. A colossal 120-story office, hotel and shopping center would be part of phase 2.

"(The people) are already here. Think of how many commuters go through Union and Northwestern station and this end of the Loop. They're already here," said architect Laurence Booth.

Booth has become fast friends with project manager Martin Mulryan of London. He is shepherding this concept for developer Bill Davies, a 70-something real estate titan.

"People at the moment fly from the UK to the US for a shopping weekend in New York. People will come and do a shopping weekend in Chicago," said Mulryan.

A developer wants to build several towers around the old post office in Chicago's

In 10 years IPD wants several towers built around the post office -- they already own some of the adjacent land -- with the old building hosting 45 million visitors a year in a complex that would dwarf America's biggest malls -- or anything else.

By offering free parking, Mulryan says the project challenges Chicago to live up to city architect Daniel Burnham's credo, "Make no small plans."

"Within a relatively short space of time, 18 months to two years, phase one will be complete and the building will start to become invigorated," said Mulryan

The project is budgeted at $3.5 billion.

After zoning changes, the project needs Chicago Plan Commission approval, which would then get it to City Council for a vote.

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