Bids Start at $300,000 for Chicago's Historic Post Office

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After 13 years of failed redevelopment efforts, the United States Postal Service is giving up and auctioning off its largest vacant property: the hulking 2.7-million-square-foot old central post office here.

The suggested opening bid for the auction is $300,000, which is less than an individual condominium goes for in many of the surrounding downtown buildings...

... The behemoth, which is nine stories tall with 14-story corner towers, is several blocks southwest of the Loop, the downtown central business district. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in a Neoclassical/Art Deco style and built in phases from 1921 to 1932. (Graham, Anderson is the firm responsible for Chicago landmarks like the Wrigley Building, the Civic Opera House and Union Station.) The total cost was $22 million.

A peculiarity of the building is that it was built using air rights over railroad tracks that terminate several blocks to the north, at Union Station, and so it has no basement. In addition, the Congress Expressway literally passes through the structure. The two-story-high tunnel carries six lanes of traffic.

The building is often described as the world’s largest post office. At its peak, 5,000 workers processed more than 35 million letters annually, using 10 miles of conveyor belts and 48 elevators. Every day, more than 125 trains and 6,000 trucks arrived at the facility...

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