Uber Is Dreaming Big About Its Old Post Office Space

September 11, 2019 AT 3:05 AM

(TNS) — Uber Technologies is headed to the top of Chicago’s Old Post Office — and, someday, maybe even higher.

The company’s top executives were in town Monday to discuss the company’s 463,000-square-foot lease in the massive building along the Chicago River, where the Uber Freight shipping business will be headquartered.

San Francisco-based Uber’s deal, the largest office lease signed in Chicago so far this year, is for the ninth and 10th floors, the top two levels of the 2.8 million-square-foot behemoth at 433 W. Van Buren St.

The 10-year lease also includes private space on the building’s roof, a space so large that helicopters easily land on it. That leaves open some futuristic possibilities for a company already known as a disruptor.

The roof is big enough to accommodate George Jetson-style aircraft being developed by Uber Elevate, the company’s air transportation arm.

“The roof can hold air taxis,” Lior Ron, the head of Uber Freight, said after a news conference Monday in the renovated lobby of the long-vacant post office.

“There’s no immediate plan right now but, you know, it’s a future fun possibility that I think this space gives us the opportunity to do,” Ron said.

Such a use in The Old Post Office is a long shot.

Before operating in any city, Uber Elevate still must design the new aircraft and “skyports,” as well as overcome regulatory hurdles. The concept is viewed as an option for transportation between suburbs and cities, and eventually within cities.

Uber Elevate wants to operate its new air taxis in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne by 2023. It already has begun offering traditional private helicopter rides in New York, from Lower Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In Chicago, Uber’s use of the rooftop will remain — for now, at least — more traditional.

Uber’s lease includes an 11,000-square-foot portion of one of the four thinner pylons that extend above the rest of the structure at each corner of the building, according to Cailin Rogers, a spokeswoman for Telos Group, which oversees office leasing in the building. Uber will have room to build its own roof deck connected to the private event space within the pylon.

Uber Freight plans to invite shippers and customers to events in the rooftop space, Ron said. There also will be a 3.5-acre rooftop park available to all office tenants in the building.

The Old Post Office is in the late stages of an $800 million-plus redevelopment by 601W Cos. The first tenants will move in this fall, and Uber is expected to move there next year.

Other large tenants in the building include Walgreens, PepsiCo and Ferrara Candy.

The New York-based developer is represented in leasing by Telos Group brokers Steve Smith, Dan Heckman and Jamey Dix. Uber was represented by CBRE brokers Paul Reaumond and Ian Murphy.

Uber will consolidate two downtown offices, with the majority of the new space expected to be used by continued expansion of Uber Freight. Ron said The Old Post Office was chosen primarily for its ultrawide floors, which allow engineers to collaborate with other teams, and its proximity to public transportation.

“Having essentially infinite flexibility that the space provides us is amazing,” Ron said.

©2019 The Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.