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Does Walgreens post office move mean the end of HQ2 bid?

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Posted by Barton Lorimor

* The Old Post Office was, perhaps, the most recognizable and memorable part of Chicago’s HQ2 proposal, but it reportedly did not stick as well with Amazon representatives, who toured five other locations when they came to town.

So when Walgreens formally announced earlier this week it was moving nearly 1,300 jobs from its suburban Deerfield campus to the long-abandoned structure, the question of whether this signaled the end of Chicago’s hope for landing HQ2 was sure to come up…

“We have a very deep pipeline of interested tenants but someone had to be the first,” said Brian Whiting, founder and president of the Telos Group, which is representing 601W in leasing the building.

“It gives us momentum and it gives us credibility, and we are confident that we will be announcing additional commitments in the very near future,” Whiting said in an email.

Walgreens and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday discussed details of the deal and unveiled renderings of the planned space in a news conference in the historic building’s lobby. The Tribune last week reported Walgreens’ plans to move into the building, and the company later confirmed plans to move 1,800 corporate employees there — 500 from a Loop office in the Sullivan Center and 1,300 from the company’s north suburban campus.

“We’re comfortable that we’re not going to be the only tenant here (in the Old Post Office),” said Joe Brady, vice president of real estate at Walgreens. “Frankly, we’re proud to be a catalyst to help this project go even faster.”

Is Amazon one of those tenants in the pipeline?

“We’ve been plowing forward with different tenants, so I think at this point—we’re going a different direction,” Whiting said. “We’re not waiting for them, and we’re on to the next and best thing.”


The mayor is trying to play things close to his vest so as not to anger Amazon as he and mayors across the U.S. wait for the company to conclude its lengthy, secretive process to decide where to locate its second headquarters and as many as 50,000 employees.

But asked Monday whether Walgreens’ decision to locate 1,800 employees at the old post office in the South Loop takes that building off the table for Amazon, Emanuel offered some insights.

“I don’t want to violate anything with Amazon, so I think when you — know this, let me do it this way so I’m not (violating), I want to be careful,” Emanuel said. “On our original proposal to Amazon we had 10 sites. When they came, they saw five sites. It is our understanding they like, really like, two sites. So let me say that.”

* Meanwhile, the love for the Foxconn deal just keeps on coming…

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said she is concerned that they haven’t seen any sort of stormwater management plan for the project, which is set to break ground later this month.

Kovarik said the project will turn hundreds or thousands of acres of farmland into impermeable surface that if not properly managed could increase the amount of rain that runs down the Des Plaines River.

“When that water comes out of Wisconsin, we’re the first community it really hits,” Kovarik said. “We’re built right on the river. We have major arteries that get shut down from flooding.”

posted by Barton Lorimor
Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:21 am


  1. Meh, if I’m Amazon, I want a chunk of that undeveloped 62 acres on the river where they’re talking the Discovery Partners Institute or nothing at all.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:26 am

  2. I tend to agree with Word. Amazon isn’t going to want to squeeze itself into an existing structure. For HQ2, it wants a statement building, a custom designed headquarters for the 22nd century. They’ll want to have a competition to design it and that will attract every architect on the planet.

    The old Post Office building is nice, but I don’t think it was ever really in the running for this. FWIW, I also don’t think Amazon is going to choose Chicago period, but I hope I’m wrong about that.

    Comment by 47th Ward Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:43 am

  3. For HQ2, it wants a statement building, a custom designed headquarters for the 22nd century. They’ll want to have a competition to design it and that will attract every architect on the planet.

    Sure. Why not. Worked out well for George Lucas.

    Comment by Macbeth Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:44 am

  4. I don’t know if Chicago is in the running but this is a very impressive series annoucements coming out of Rahm’s office: super train to O’Hare, Walgreens, etc. This is the sort of activity that helps create a positive buzz about a City’s business environment.

    FoxConn and the digusting corruption at the EPA is bad news for anyone downwind or downstream from that plant. Any politician who wants votes in NE IL should be screaming about how the EPA is waiving it’s review process and giving that plant carte blance to pollute our water and air.

    Comment by siriusly Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:52 am

  5. 47th Ward — I hope you’re right.

    Comment by Adam Jacob Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:54 am

  6. The post office was never a good fit for Amazon. The exposed and publicly accessible underside of the building is a major security liability for such a high-profile company.

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 10:55 am

  7. Word and 47 are right — picking the post office over the virgin land sites on either end of the river never made sense.

    Not that it matters much. It’s a major upset if Amazon doesn’t go to the DC area.

    Comment by Roman Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 11:05 am

  8. Governor Walker and his band of merry Republicans don’t even care what environmental damage Foxconn does to Wisconsin much less Illinois.

    Comment by DeseDemDose Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 11:05 am

  9. Adam, why do you hope Amazon chooses another city? Do you really hate Chicago that much?

    Comment by 47th Ward Tuesday, Jun 19, 18 @ 11:07 am

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