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Uber eyeing several Chicago sites for office expansion: source

Old post office, 2 new towers could handle ride-hailing company. Fulton Market might be in play too.

In this pan zoom image, an Uber logo is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco,
Uber is sizing up several sites in Chicago for an office expansion, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times.

If Uber Technologies can follow through on its plans, it will become an anchor tenant in a downtown office building and potentially bring in thousands of jobs.

A source close to the company said Thursday that it is examining locations that could accommodate as much as 450,000 square feet. Potential sites include the former downtown post office at 433 W. Van Buren St. along with several other locations, the source said.

“We have signed no leases and continue to look at our best options in Chicago,” he said.

The Old Post Office, with some 2.7 million square feet, would be available for Uber relatively soon. The first tenants are expected to move into the two-block behemoth, which spans Ida B. Wells Drive, this year.

Given its space requirement, two new towers expected to be finished in 2023 also could be available for Uber if it prefers patience. They are the 50-story BMO Tower planned for 310 S. Canal St. near Union Station and Salesforce Tower, a 60-story building that will be the last to arise at Wolf Point.

Both, however, already have assigned naming rights to anchor tenants, and it’s possible Uber won’t want to share the glory.

One option could be a home in the Fulton Market area, which has become the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s. A report by the firm CBRE Group said up to 8.7 million square feet of office space in Fulton Market will be available in the next few years.

Uber’s space needs are connected to its Uber Freight operation, which is expanding. The company now has about 1,000 employees spread among several Chicago sites.

Whether it will continue to expand is anyone’s guess. Its shares fell sharply after reaching the market in an initial public offering May 10, as analysts have worried it has no clear path to a profit.

In addition, job actions by some of its drivers have brought attention to their wage levels and their independent contractor status, which allows the company to avoid offering benefits.