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City Delays Old Post Office Acquisition, Gives Owner Final Chance

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If a deal to sell the property falls through, the city will again pursue eminent domain

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The Emanuel Administration has announced that it will put its plans to acquire the Old Post office via eminent domain temporarily on hold and allow Bill Davies and International Property Developers North America one final chance to make good on their promise to sell the abandoned 2.5 million-square-foot structure and adjacent annex buildings to 601W Companies. Despite an earlier indication by City Hall that 601W would have to join a number of competing firms in answering the city’s request for proposal (RFP) due on June 10, the New York-based real estate company now has until June 1 to close any deal to buy the property from Davies, reports Crain’s.

In early March, representatives of Davies claimed that the city’s plan to yank the property away from the British-born investor would scuttle progress on a pending deal with a "major partner." Though seen by some as nothing more than a stalling tactic, the statement gained credence when it was revealed two weeks later that 601W Companies — owner of Chicago’s Aon Center and Prudential Plaza — had entered into a tentative agreement with Davies to purchase the dilapidated art deco building. Despite Davies backing out of similar agreements to sell the hulking riverfront property in the past, representatives from International Property Developers North America insisted that the latest venture with 601W was the real deal.

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited 601W’s financial resources and proven track record in commercial real estate as factors influencing the decision to temporarily pump the brakes on eminent domain. That said, the city stressed its adherence to a hard June 1 deadline which would also require a plan showing financial due diligence and a commitment to correct the old building’s numerous safety violations. If Davies and 601W Companies miss the June 1 cut-off, the City of Chicago will restart both the acquisition and bidding processes. Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman tells the Chicago Tribune that there has been "significant interest" in the site from leading local developers since the RFP was first issued on March 16th.

Old Chicago Post Office

404 West Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60605