Office N Illinois

Is Illinois ready to sell James R. Thompson Center?

If you live in Chicago -- and especially if you work in the city's downtown -- you probably consider the James R. Thompson Center to be an eyesore. The building, built in 1985 and located at the prime Chicago address of 100 W. Randolph St., has long been ridiculed for its high heating and cooling costs and an appearance that was dated nearly as soon as it opened. Now, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced at a press conference that he'd like to sell the Thompson Center, home to about 2,000 state employees.

JamesRThompson_Intro2by Dan Rafter

If you live in Chicago -- and especially if you work in the city's downtown -- you probably consider the James R. Thompson Center to be an eyesore.

The building, built in 1985 and located at the prime Chicago address of 100 W. Randolph St., has long been ridiculed for its high heating and cooling costs and an appearance that was dated nearly as soon as it opened.

Now, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced at a press conference that he'd like to sell the Thompson Center, home to about 2,000 state employees.

At his press conference held earlier today, Rauner said that the Thompson Center is stuck with $100 millin in deferred maintenance costs. He also pointed out that it costs Illinois three times as much to operate as it would a typical private building.

Rauner said that overall, it costs the state an extra $6 million to $12 million each year to operate the Thompson Center.

In its report on the governor's announcement, Crain's Chicago Business said that the Thompson Center could fetch a high sales price. This isn't surprising. The Chicago downtown office market is a strong one today, and a property located at such a prime spot could attract the attention of plenty of buyers.

Famed architect Helmut Jahn designed the 17-story center. The building's soaring open-air atrium is inspiring. But it's also inefficient, and is a major reason why it's so difficult, and costly, to heat and cool the building.

Jahn released a prepared statement today that criticized the state government for not spending the money necessary to keep the Thompson Center in top operating condition.

In his statement, Jahn criticized the selection of stores now operating in the building and said that the state should repurpose the building. Jahn said in his release that the Thompson Center would be the perfect home for a hotel or multifamily residences.

Rauner said that he would prefer to sell the Thompson Center at a public auction, and that he'd like to do this quickly, within one year.