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The proposed redevelopment of the old Chicago Main Post Office

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In ten years the old Chicago Main Post Office building might be occupied again.

In ten years the old Chicago Main Post Office building might be occupied again.

Ian Freimuth

Apart from a couple of cameos in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, the old Chicago Main Post Office (433 W. Van Buren) hasn't seen much action since it was vacated in 1996. As an abandoned building it's expensive—in 2006 the United States Government Accounting Office estimated the annual holding cost for the retired post office at $2 million—and perilous. A small fire in the building last month is thought to have been caused by the ignition of some soot by a passing train.

But the building, which was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2001—at one point it was the largest post office in the world—retains its grandeur. According to the Tribune, British developer Bill Davies intends to redevelop the 20-acre campus in a project that's estimated to take ten years and $3.5 billion. Davies plans to build several high-rises, including a skyscraper higher than the Willis Tower, and retail spaces, hotels, and offices—maybe even a casino. The plan for the $450 million first phase of the project was submitted to the city for approval last July.

Have a particular observation or favorite oddity about a neighborhood? E-mail it to zoomin@chicagoreader.com.

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