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The Loan Ranger

The Post Office That Could Go from Mail-Order Catalog Hub to Amazon HQ2 Site

You may have thought the phenomenon that threatens brick-and-mortar stores by allowing consumers to do their shopping at home is a relatively recent trend. But actually, it started in the late 19th century.

We’re referring, of course, to mail-order catalog companies like Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, conveniently headquartered where their packages could most easily reach all corners of the United States: in Chicago, the capital of the Midwest.

All those morning coats and boudoir caps had to go somewhere before they got delivered house to house, and that somewhere was the 2.5-million-square-foot post office at 404 W. Harrison St. in Chicago. The Art Deco building was the world’s largest post office when it was built in the 1930s, and was sold to New York-based 601W Companies in 2016.

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

It is undergoing redevelopment and received $355 million in financing from JPMorgan Chase in November. The loan was one of the city’s largest last year, CrediFi found in its report on commercial real estate lending in Chicago in 2017.

Now the colossal riverfront building is being touted by the Windy City as a good candidate for the second headquarters of yet another American retail behemoth that threatens brick-and-mortar stores by allowing consumers to do their shopping at home.

We don’t know whether Amazon will choose Chicago, as its mail-order forerunners did, but if so, it will be following a well-established precedent.

Download the full Chicago Lending Spotlight for 2017.

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