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Old Post Office developer didn’t make friends with past plans

The old Chicago MaPost Office. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times library

The old Chicago Main Post Office. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times library

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Updated: July 22, 2011 9:13AM

If Bill Davies is positioning himself as a prophet of urban development in Chicago, he is without honor in his former hometown.

Davies formerly lived in Liverpool, England. Press accounts from Liverpool said his relationships with local officials deteriorated when he held a couple of key properties for years and failed to improve them.

One was a proposed shopping complex called Chevasse Park that Davies owned for years until the local council pulled his legal title to the property. He also invested in, of all things, an old post office in central Liverpool, but it wasn’t redeveloped until he sold it after a nearly 20-year ownership.

When Davies surfaced in 2009 as the buyer of Chicago’s old main post office, a Liverpool deputy council leader, Flo Clucas, sent a message across the pond via an interview with the Liverpool Echo: “Good luck, Chicago.”

Davies, who describes himself as a former house builder, cites other investments from the 1970s and 1980s that built his wealth. He was best known in Liverpool as a longtime owner of Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National Steeplechase.

A biography he provided through publicists listed a successful investment in industrial property in northeast Liverpool.

It also said Davies has been part of “major apartment projects in England and Wales” and an office development in Leeds.

He has a pattern of laying the groundwork for development, often with the help of high-priced talent, and then “flipping” the property.

The biography said Davies has lived in Monaco since 1996. His former company was called Walton Group PLC. For his Chicago deal, he has formed International Property Developers.

Davies paid $25 million for the old post office in Chicago. Then he made a second deal with the U.S. Postal Service for an adjoining property, paying about $14 million.

His associates said he also has placed two other sites under contract to complete his vision for a massive downtown project.

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