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Permits signal work on Chicago’s Old Main Post Office moving inside

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A new permit indicates that the lobby of the Old Main Post Office is ready for restoration

Flickr Creative Commons/Noah Vaughn

A new permit from the city has signaled that workers are preparing to move inside Chicago’s massive Old Main Post Office structure to begin rehabbing the Art Deco building’s lobby. Workers were first spotted on the scene back in October of last year to begin exterior facade repair and restoration. Having stood vacant for over 20 years and suffered through multiple fires and the neglect during that time, the overhaul of the building is expected to be a $500 million undertaking.

The the 2.5 million-square-foot Art Deco behemoth, which for years represented one of the greatest lost opportunities for redevelopment, was acquired by developer 601W Companies early last year. Drawings from global architecture firm Gensler show that the developer plans new office space and new amenities like a large three-acre rooftop park and a fitness center for the building. In addition, the building’s prominent river frontage will see the addition of outdoor cafes and a landscaped riverwalk.


The latest permit also details that some interior mechanical work will be performed. The task will reverse years of decay which caused the city at one point to declare the building unsafe for emergency responders to enter. According to the latest permit, the cost for the lobby renovation and new mechanical risers is estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million.

What was once a crucial component to Chicago’s prominent mail order and merchandising industry will eventually become a new outpost for Chicago’s growing downtown workforce. As of last summer, developer 601W Companies indicated that it is targeting a 2020 completion and delivery of the massive project.