What's the deal with the Old Post Office?

What's the deal with the Old Post Office?

I'll bet the new owners of the Old Chicago Main Post Office are regretting their decision to buy it. The recent news of horrible air pollution hurting Amtrak commuters in Union Station is falling on International Property Developers (IPD), the British company that bought the old post office in 2009. Amtrak is suing IPD for not taking care of the broken ventilation fans that are supposed to protect the air quality of the station below.

I love the old post office, and I've always been fascinated with the giant building that no one seems to know what to do with. Read below for more facts on this week's 'Did You Know, Chicago?' topic:

The nine story high post office was built from 1922 to 1933, and it was once the largest post office in the world. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the largest architectural firm under one roof during the first half of the 20th century. The firm was originally founded by famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham's sons and business partner, who designed such iconic buildings as the Wrigley Building, the Merchandise Mart, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum.

The post office was constructed before the Eisenhower was there, but it was originally designed to accommodate a roadway under it.

The post office was vacated in the early 1990s when the new post office across Harrison Street opened. It costs the government around $2 million to maintain the building, but they're stuck doing it because in 2001 it was listed under the National Register of Historic Places

Recently, as many of us know, the post office was used for filming the Batman Begins and The Dark Knight movies. During filming the post office caught fire, and the cause was initially blamed on the movie crew. However, it was later determined that the fire was caused by the insulation in the ancient ventilation system.

IPD bought the old post office in 2009 for $24.8 million and announced this past summer that it plans to spend $3.5 billion to transform it into an "urban mecca." This plan is never going to happen will create 16 million square feet of entertainment, retail, office, residential and hotel space. IPD wants to extend this vision into three other sites around the post office, but right now the company only has financing for the first phase of the project.

 

Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?

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