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Chicago awards old Post Office preliminary landmark status, property tax incentive

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Once occupied, the long-vacant structure is expected to generate $19 million in annual property taxes

A rendering of the building’s restored 1930’s Art Deco lobby.

Currently in the midst of a multi-year renovation into high-tech offices, Chicago’s 1930’s Main Post Office building was awarded a preliminary landmark recommendation at yesterday’s meeting of the City’s Commission on Landmarks. In addition to protecting the 2.8 million-square-foot Art Deco structure from future demolition, the move also enabled the project to receive a special tax assessment to aid in its restoration.

Known as a Class L incentive, the measure reduces tax assessments for landmarked buildings over a 12-year period with the caveat that the owner must invest at least half of the value of the property into an approved rehabilitation project. In the case of the old Chicago Post Office, taxes will be lowered a combined $53.2 million over the dozen-year life of the incentive.

Once that period expires, the renovated building is expected to create $19 million in additional annual tax revenue—quickly offsetting the initial discount. While certainly beneficial to the project, the incentive covers only a fraction of developer 601W Companies’ reported $600 million overhaul budget.

Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, the repositioned Post Office is expected to contain contiguous, 250,000-square-foot office floor plates and 80,000 square feet of tenant amenities. The property has been mentioned as one of Chicago’s top candidates to potentially score Amazon’s coveted ‘HQ2’ second corporate headquarters deal.

According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, the renovation of the Post Office represents the single largest redevelopment project in the country. Tenant occupancy is expected in early 2019.