The Chicago Sun-Times and its partner, WBEZ, are joining the march of corporate Chicago to the Old Post Office, where they will open office space in a deal that reflects the demands of hybrid work and the challenges of the media business.
The organizations will share 6,000 square feet in the massive building at 433 W. Van Buren St. made over from a crumbling hulk to a contemporary draw for corporate headquarters. The Sun-Times is moving from 30 N. Racine Ave. while WBEZ will retain offices and studios at Navy Pier.
For the Sun-Times, the new space is much smaller than the 22,000 square feet it had on Racine, its home since 2017. Chicago Public Media, owner of the Sun-Times and WBEZ, said the new space will be optimized for flexible work schedules for a staff working remotely since the pandemic.
Nykia Wright, Sun-Times CEO, said the lease at the Old Post Office is for one year but can be extended if staffers heavily use the space. Other terms were not disclosed. She announced the arrangement to employees Wednesday.
Wright said staffers who expect to visit the office fewer than three days per week can reserve a desk at either the Old Post Office or Navy Pier. Those who will work primarily from the office can request a permanent desk at Navy Pier, where WBEZ leases 45,000 square feet. The station’s plans for the Navy Pier space include renovating its broadcast studio, a project beginning in 2023.
The Old Post Office space is expected to be ready in August and the paper’s lease on Racine expires in October, Wright said.
The Sun-Times was sold to Chicago Public Media last January in a deal that converted the paper to nonprofit status. The sale brought $61 million in pledged donations over five years from foundations and individuals. Those involved said the venture is an experiment in sustaining local journalism.
The internet has eroded advertising revenue from traditional print media. The declines in the business can be seen in real estate deals. The Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune used to dominate the view from Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, with facilities that combined offices and newspaper production. But Tribune Tower has gone condo and the Sun-Times left its building on Wabash Avenue in 2004. Donald Trump replaced it with the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
The Sun-Times had offices at 350 N. Orleans St. for 13 years until moving to the Near West Side. The Tribune is based at its printing plant at 777 W. Chicago Ave., but the property is slated to get a casino.
Tenants at the Old Post Office include Walgreens, PepsiCo, Ferrara Candy, Uber, Cisco and Cboe Global Markets. New York-based 601W owns the building, which for years was an empty and unsightly presence straddling the roadway that becomes the Eisenhower Expressway. With $800 million from JP Morgan Chase, the owners completed renovations that include a food court and a rooftop park.