State advances effort to sell 1M-sf Thompson Center, but the wait isn’t over

The massive state-owned building in the prime Loop area will likely attract a host of interested buyers

Aug.August 28, 2019 02:00 PM
Gov J.B. Pritzker and the Thompson Center, which will be sold (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia)

Gov J.B. Pritzker and the Thompson Center, which will be sold (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia)

The hulking, Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center in the Loop is in dire need of repair. The 1.2-million-square-foot state office building is inefficient and expensive to operate — it costs the state $17 million a year — and officials said would cost about $300 million to overhaul.

But the 17-story building is also in a prime location, and in April, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill setting up a two-year process to sell the property at 100 West Randolph Street through a competitive bidding process.

Now, the state is moving that process forward with a request for proposal for “an array of technical and project management expertise” related to the sale, according to a release sent out this week. Proposals are due Oct. 4. Crain’s first reported the story.

Interested buyers and developers will have to contend with a few complications involved in the purchase. Those include maintaining the Clark/Lake CTA station and potentially buying Chicago’s Marc Realty Capital and Boston-based Winthrop Realty Trust out of their retail lease, which expires in 2034. The state will not accept proposals from developers for at least seven or eight months.

By signing a bill to sell the property — an estimated two-year process — Pritzker and officials said they were hoping to help close the gap on the state’s underfunded pension system.

Gov. Bruce Rauner pushed for the sale during his tenure, and predicted it would bring in $300 million. The property, built in 1985, could only be sold for that price if the city approves zoning changes to allow denser development, said Alderman Brendan Reilly.

If the building sells, state employees will move to the Michael A. Bilandic Building across LaSalle Street and to other government-owned and -rented buildings, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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