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Peek inside Old Main Post Office, Emanuel’s hopeful future business hub

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens, tour the fifth floor of the Old Post Office Building, 433 W. Van Buren St., where the company will take over a 200,000 square feet office space with about 1,800 employees, by fall 2019.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens, tour the fifth floor of the Old Post Office Building, 433 W. Van Buren St., where the company will take over a 200,000 square feet office space with about 1,800 employees, by fall 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago’s Old Main Post Office, the 2.5-million-square-foot building that has been slumped, vacant, above the Eisenhower Expressway since 1995, is being recast as an opportunity instead of an eyesore. Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the city’s efforts to maneuver the historic building out of the idle hands of its previous ownership in 2016, quickly handing the reins to 601W Companies LLC, the New York-based developer that owns Chicago’s Aon Center and Prudential Plaza.

Since then, the long-quiet building has been abuzz. Emanuel hasn’t been quiet about his ongoing bid to bring Amazon’s headquarters to 433 W. Van Buren St., and last week, Walgreens announced it would move 1,800 employees into a new outpost that occupies 200,000 square feet of the building.

While the property is in the midst of a gut rehab to the tune of $292 million — offset by a $100 million Class L property tax break to cushion the blow — Emanuel’s crown jewel of redevelopment remains a diamond in the rough.

A recent press conference celebrating the Walgreens deal — and teasing other potential partnerships — offered a rare glimpse inside the evolving property. Take a peek inside the historic 96-year-old Art Deco building mid-facelift in the gallery below.

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