Law360, New York (July 18, 2013, 7:32 PM ET) - The Chicago Plan commission gave a key nod Thursday to a $3 billion plan to renovate the Main Post Office and surround it with a massive high-rise complex, and also pushed forward a controversial $300 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field.
In a unanimous vote, the commission first approved a zoning code amendment that paves the way for International Property Developers North America Inc. and Antunovich Associates to move forward with its proposal, Joe Antunovich, head of the architecture and design firm, told Law360. The panel also pushed forward a Wrigley Field renovation plan that has been hotly debated by officials, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Cubs.
Under the Plan Commission approval, IPD and Antunovich are OK´d for about 10 million square feet of development in total and are approved to move immediately forward with securing building permits for the project´s first phase one it clears the city council, which could happen later this month.
"Part of the magic of the scheme is you can divide [the project] up... This is all phaseable," Antunovich said.
Ultimately, the project will include three new high-rises with 1,200 hotel rooms and 6,400 residential units, as well as additional retail, office and parking, according to commission documents. But during the first phase - estimated at $1.5 billion - the developers will focus on turning the Main Post Office´s former office space into a 500 - unit apartment complex, as well as extending retail toward the Chicago River and building the first tower and parking space, according to Antunovich.
" We can get going right away with asbestos abatement and restoration on the outside," Antunovich said, adding that if all goes well, the companies plan to bring residential units to market in about two years.
Another estimated 800 to 1,000 units would also be able to be started in the near future, he said. Located on several blocks of prime land near Chicago´s Loop and on top of three major rail lines, the mixed-use development is expected to become a hot property in the multifamily market.
The developers expect the towers will become attractive to both commuters in the city and reverse-commuters with jobs in the suburbs. "We believe we´re positioned beautifully", Antunovich said.
The project has been years in the making with IPD snatching up the Post Office site in July 2011 through an auction and with the company working for at least two years before that on making the deal possible, according to company documents.