The holding company for Walgreens, the second-largest drugstore in the nation, will take on more than 200,000 square feet inside Chicago’s long-vacant old main post office at 433 W. Van Buren Street. Walgreen Boots Alliance will move 1,800 employees into the riverfront building, which was purchased by New York-based developer 601W Companies in 2016.
The company won’t completely vacate its Deerfield, Illinois headquarters when the new office opens in the fall of 2019. Approximately 1,300 employees will move from their suburban offfices, along with another 500 workers that are already in the Loop, in a technology space which currently occupies two floors of the Sullivan Center at 36 S. Wabash Avenue—also owned by 601W. That office serves the pharmaceutical retailers’ e-commerce, mobile, pharmacy technology and digital teams.
“Investing in our infrastructure and building our digital and technical capabilities are essential elements of our business transformation strategy, as we work to improve access for our customers and enhance the customer experience,” said Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens. “The space in the iconic Old Post Office building allows us to attract and retain the best talent from all of Chicagoland.”
When renovations are complete, the new office space in The Old Post Office building will serve as an additional office location for Walgreens. Digital and IT operations employees supporting the Walgreens business, as well as some Walgreens Boots Alliance global IT personnel, will be located in the new office space.
“Walgreens was born in Chicago with one small pharmacy on the South Side, and their big new presence in one of our city’s most iconic locations is a great way to look to the future,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is a smart decision by an innovative company, it will contribute to our city’s thriving tech sector and we are looking forward to cutting the ribbon and welcoming 1,800 members of the Walgreens team to Chicago.”
601W acquired $500 million in financing last December to rehabilitate the site, increasing their total investment in the project to $800 million. The 2.8 million-square-foot, Art Deco building straddling Congress Parkway sat fallow for years and suffered a few stalled redevelopments until it’s acquisition by 601W. Architecture firm Gensler has been tapped to draw up a vision for the building’s second life, including the addition of a new food hall, a tenant-accessible rooftop and a new riverwalk.
The Telos Group LLC, a Chicago-based real estate services firm, is handling leasing on the project. Walgreens is represented by JLL’s Meredith O’Connor, Bill Rogers and Steve Stratton. The building is slated to be ready for occupancy sometime in 2019.