Two groups have submitted proposals to buy the James R. Thompson Center from the state of Illinois.
The 17-story building, known for its rounded and sloping all-glass facade, served as the state government’s base in the Chicago Loop, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Details of the proposals have not been released because of a law that lets state officials conceal the submissions until the winning proposal is chosen.
In April 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to sell the Helmut Jahn-designed state office building at 100 West Randolph Street, claiming the large building is too expensive to operate — costing Illinois taxpayers $17 million every year.
“Selling the property provides a unique opportunity to maximize taxpayer savings, create thousands of union jobs, generate millions of dollars in real estate taxes to benefit the City of Chicago and spur economic development,” Pritzer said in May.
The Historic Preservation Office, part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, signed a memorandum of agreement in June that the Thompson Center should not be considered a “historic resource.” However, the move to sell the property has drawn criticism from local preservationists who said the Thompson Center is iconic and deserves landmark protection.
The Chicago Architecture Center and the Chicago Architectural Club held a global design competition for the Thompson Center in which the top submissions transformed the space into a development with homes and commercial space, a building school or a waterpark.
In September, the Chicago Architecture Center and the Chicago Architectural Club picked the winners of a global design competition for the Thompson Center. The top submissions transformed the steel frame building with red and blue accents into a waterpark, a “vertical Loop” of homes and commercial space with a rooftop vegetable garden, or a prototype building school. Organizers of the contest hoped the results would make officials rethink the future of the property.
The Chicago City Council approved a new zoning ordinance to upzone the center in May, which could lead to a skyscraper being built on the property.
The state is expected to choose one of the bids by the end of the year. After that a purchase agreement will likely be drawn up by February and the sale could close as early as April 2022.
[CST] — Victoria Pruitt