Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old Main Chicago Post Office Sold To Troubled UK Developer

Hopes for a quick and easy redevelopment of the old Chicago Main Post Office building, which has been sitting empty astride the Eisenhower Expressway for many years now, were dashed when second ward Alderman Robert Fioretti outed English real estate developer Bill Davies as the successful anonymous $40 million bidder at the Postal Service auction of the building last month. Davies has a checkered history of troubled and failed developments in the UK, including the purchase of the abandoned Liverpool post office building, which he resold 16 years later without doing a stitch of work on the structure. Flo Clucas, deputy city council leader in Liverpool, describes Davies as "long winded and desperately difficult."

U. S. Postal Service spokesman Mark Reynolds posted the required $4 million deposit, and USPS hopes to close the sale and get the property off its books before the September 30 fiscal year end. The empty building needs extensive repairs, and annual maintenance runs about $2 million per year. Alderman Fioretti acknowledges significant asbestos abatement will be part of any renovation for private use, and predicts redevelopment costs will run between $750 million and $1 billion. Davies, listed by the Times of London as one of England's richest people, probably has the cash and credit power to get the job done, it's just a question whether he has the will to spend all that money here. Contractors, sharpen your pencils!
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