Developer thinks small for re-use of downtown’s 2.7 million square foot post office
Loop North News

Art & Architecture 433 W Van Buren St - MAP

International Property Developers North America

(Above) Floor plan of a 28 x 10-foot 280-square-foot studio apartment a developer is thinking about offering in the Old Chicago Main Post Office west of the Loop. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

Developer thinks small for re-use of downtown’s 2.7 million square foot post office

‘Micro’ apartments will start at 280 square feet

26-Jan-16 – “Cozy” is guaranteed.

For the first phase of development, the new owner of the Old Chicago Main Post Office – the 2.7 million square foot art deco giant on Van Buren Street just west of the Loop – is gauging demand for apartments that are certainly upscale but decidedly small.

How small? The MicroChicago says it will fit a two-bedroom two-bath apartment into 600 square feet, a one-bedroom unit into 350 square feet, and a studio apartment in 280 square feet.

Construction would begin in March on 300 units, according to Ellen Phillips, managing broker of Loop Apartments, exclusive marketer of the “micro” units for International Property Developers North America.

“Given size, location, and cost, we expect [the units] to attract those with busy lives who do not spend much time in their apartments and would prefer to live more efficiently,” says Phillips. “You can’t beat the location. [It’s] the perfect downtown pied-à-terre.”

The studio apartment measures 28 feet by 10 feet and includes a living/sleeping area, kitchen, and bathroom. It is about the size of a Class C motorhome or the smallest trailer that an 18-wheel truck would pull.

Rent ranges from $1,140 per month for the studio, or $1,400 per month for a one-bedroom, to $2,400 per month for the two-bedroom, working out to about $4 per month per square foot.

International Property Developers North America (Left) Photo from IPDNA showing the “concept” of what an apartment at MicroChicago would look like.

Micro apartments are popular in Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, and Seattle but they have also started appearing in Des Moines, Kalamazoo, and Omaha.

Smaller apartments are not only more affordable for tenants to rent but they are more profitable for developers to build. A 2015 study by Urban Land Institute found that units smaller than 600 square feet rented for an average of $2.65 per square foot. That is 54 percent more than apartments 600 to 1,000 square feet in size and 81 percent more than apartments larger than 1,000 square feet.

International Property Developers North America

(Above) Illustration dated January 21, 2016, that imagines the view looking northeast across Van Buren Street Bridge and Chicago River toward a new glass structure on east side of the Old Chicago Main Post Office.

Old post office renovation after 95 years of government work and part-time film career

Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the Old Chicago Main Post Office was built in 1921 and expanded in 1932. It is nine stories tall and sits on a 12.6-acre site.

It played a bank in the 2007 film The Dark Knight and also appears in Batman Begins (2004) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2010). It has not been used as a post office since 1996.

In 2009, it was sold to British real estate developer William Davies, chairman of IPDNA, for $24 million. In 2011, Davies unveiled an ambitious $3.5 billion plan that included a 120-story office/residential/hotel tower and converting the post office into a retail complex. The plan fizzled and in December 2014, Davies put the building up for sale, only to come back in 2015 with a scaled-down version.

The current plan includes a five-story glass structure containing 600,000 square feet of retail space that Davies wants to build between the old post office and the Chicago River. A proposal approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in 2013 included residential units, hotel rooms, offices, and retail space.

The new space is designed by Antunovich Associates, whose Chicago projects include 25 East Oak, located near Oak & Rush Streets, Flair Tower on West Erie Street, and The Bernardin, near Wabash & Chicago.

According to IPDNA’s website, development will include restoration of the old post office lobby and restoring the building’s exterior “to its original splendor.”

 Website: Loop Apartments

(Right) Floor plan for 625 square foot two-bedroom unit.

(Below) Floor plan for 350 square foot one-bedroom unit and floor plan of a typical residential floor.

International Property Developers North America

International Property Developers North America

International Property Developers North America

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News |


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