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Rauner Wants to Auction the Thompson Center

Chicago Office

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to place the Thompson Center, the Helmut Jahn-designed state government building at 100 W Randolph, on the market via auction. Rauner says the building is inefficient, costs too much to upkeep and repair and, oh, yeah, the building could command top dollar in this current strong downtown office market.

The 17-story, glass-lined building opened in 1985 at a cost of $172M, more than double what was projected. Jahn and then-Gov. Jim Thompson said the design, particularly its open atrium, were intended to represent the "openness and transparency of government." But the building proved costly to heat and cool, is excessively noisy, and has antiquated food courts and retail storefronts.


Compounding matters, Rauner says the building has more than $100M in maintenance that has been deferred over the years as the state deals with an ongoing budget crisis. He believes the building could command as much as $80M in a sale. State employees who work in the building would be relocated to other offices in Chicago and Springfield, saving the state $6M to $12M annually. He added that redeveloping the property would be a long-term jobs and revenue generator for state and local governments.

Jahn said it's too soon to declare the Thompson Center a relic and that it could still serve a purpose, if it was repositioned as a 24-hour, mixed-use property containing a hotel and upgraded retail amenities. Other governors, notably Rod Blagojevich, considered selling or leasing the building in the past. The Thompson Center has also been rumored to be the site of a Chicago-based casino. [Trib]