State to sell Thompson Center to developer and buy back office space

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the pending deal after years of trying to unload the property

State to sell Thompson Center to developer and buy back office space
The James R. Thompson Center and Gov. JB Pritzker (Wikipedia,

Illinois aims to sell the Loop’s 17-story James R. Thompson Center to the Prime Group for $70 million and buy back a third of it for offices, sparing the Helmut Jahn-designed building from demolition.

Governor J.B. Pritzer, who has been pushing for a sale since taking office in 2019, said at a news conference that the state will pay $148 million to repurchase space in the redeveloped building, local media outlets reported. That means a net cost to the state of $78 million, less than it would have cost to buy or lease another building.

“State employees will be there to support the Loop’s continued economic revitalization for years to come,” Pritzker said at a news conference at the Thompson Center. The state will occupy about 425,000 of the building’s 1.2 million square feet.

Pritzer’s predecessor, Bruce Rauner, tried for years to sell the building and didn’t succeed, even though lawmakers included $300 million from a potential sale in 2018 to balance the state budget, Crain’s reported. Prtizer’s deal is set to be completed in the spring.

Prime Group, led by Michael Reschke, will work with Jahn’s firm to revamp and redesign the property. The German-American architect died in a bicycle accident near his suburban Chicago home in May at the age of 81.

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The building’s atrium will serve as the entrance and will be “unlike any other in the country,” Reschke told the Chicago Tribune.

Opened in 1985 as the State of Illinois Center, the building was renamed in 1993 for former Governor James R. Thompson. It takes up the entire block between Randolph, Lake, Clark and LaSalle Streets.

Preservationists such as Landmarks Illinois, which listed Thompson Center among its most endangered historic sites, praised the decision to spare the wrecking ball. The National Park Service is reviewing a nomination to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places, the group said.

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[CT] — Victoria Pruitt