Chicago's vacant post office auctioned for $40 million

Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:34pm EDT
 
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago's old main post office, which dates from the 1920s and has been vacant for more than a decade, was sold at auction on Thursday for $40 million.

The minimum bid was just $300,000 and bidders had to have a certified check for $250,000 to express good faith.

The U.S. Postal Service identified the new owner as International Property Developers North America Inc, which did not specify its plans.

In a statement read by a postal service spokesman, the company said it would "re-energize the property as a focal point and destination for the entire city and its visitors for the next century."

"To paraphrase Daniel Burnham, let me assure you that we shall make no small plans," it said.

The building of 2.5 million square feet (232,000 square meters), which straddles an expressway and sits above railroad tracks, was deemed a must-sell because the postal service did not want to keep paying the $2 million annual cost of upkeep, auctioneer Rick Levin & Associates said.

The postal service moved its main office across the street from the old facility in 1997.

The old nine-story building, flanked by two towers, was once the U.S. Postal Service's largest facility. Its soaring marble-floored lobby was featured in a scene in "The Dark Knight," the latest entry in the Batman movie franchise.

Among past failed proposals for the structure, which sits adjacent to the Chicago River and near the downtown Loop, were converting it into condominiums, a hotel, an auto dealership, an indoor parking facility, a casino and water park.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

 
<p>Chicago's old main post office in an undated image courtesy of the United States Postal Service. The building, vacant for more than a decade, was sold at auction on Thursday for $40 million. REUTERS/USPS/Handout</p>