Regional planning agency to become third office tenant at redeveloped Old Post Office
Chicago’s regional planning agency is mapping out its future in a building from the city’s past.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning said it will move its offices to 47,000 square feet of space in the former old main post office building in summer 2020.
CMAP signed a 15-year lease in the long-vacant structure at 433 W. Van Buren St., now called the Old Post Office, CMAP Executive Director Joseph Szabo said. CMAP will move out of about 51,000 square feet in the only building it has called home, 110-story Willis Tower, directly across the Chicago River from the vacant post office.
“Part of the value proposition is, as regional planners, we focus a lot on reuse and preservation,” Szabo said. “Going into the post office, at a significant cost savings, is very consistent with CMAP’s mission.”
The regional agency is the third, and smallest, office tenant to sign a lease during the ongoing $800 million-plus redevelopment of the Old Post Office by New York-based 601W Cos.
Deerfield-based Walgreens in June announced plans to move 1,800 workers into about 200,000 square feet in the building this fall. In December, Oakbrook Terrace-based Ferrara Candy said it will move the company’s headquarters there this summer, with plans to have about 400 workers in 77,000 square feet.
Most of CMAP’s space will be on the fourth floor, next to Walgreens. The agency also will have a space for larger meetings above its offices, on the fifth floor, Szabo said.
CMAP has been in its current offices since 2006, when the agency was formed by combining the Northeast Illinois Planning Commission and the Chicago Area Transportation Study groups. At the time, the skyscraper was known as Sears Tower.
The agency decided to move because of an ongoing renovation of Willis Tower, including an expansion of the building’s base for new retail, which is pushing up rents significantly, Szabo said.
By moving, CMAP is able to reconfigure its offices into less overall space, at a lower rental rate than it would have paid to renew its Willis Tower lease, he said.
Factoring in the property tax benefits of moving into a recently landmarked building, CMAP will pay 22 percent less over the life of the 15-year lease than it would have in its current tower, Matuscak said.
“It really was about what provided the best value for the taxpayers, as a public agency,” Szabo said. “We represent the entire region, and we have meetings going on in our building almost every day. So access to transportation was also important.
“We were able to achieve that at the post office, at a tolerable price point.”
Part of the space CMAP is moving into was once the postmaster’s suites, which will be renovated to their original look, Smith said.
The 2.8 million-square-foot Old Post Office, along the west edge of the river, has been vacant since 1996. When it’s fully leased, the building is expected to house about 17,000 workers each day, Smith said.
The post office overhaul comes amid a wave of development activity in the area, including Willis Tower’s makeover; a Union Station redevelopment that will include the addition of a 50-story office tower anchored by BMO Financial Group adjacent to the rail station; and Related Midwest’s The 78, a planned mixed-use development on 62 acres of vacant land along the river between the South Loop and Chinatown.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Read the article here.