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Rauner mulls selling Thompson Center

Friday, Mar 27, 2015

* Monique…



* From the Rauner administration…

The Administration is doing its due diligence in determining the value and best use of state assets, including the JRTC.

This is just a request for info, not a formal RFP. From the request

The purpose of this Request for Information is for the Department of Central Management Services to obtain knowledge that will assist in developing and issuing a comprehensive formal solicitation to acquire appraisal services of the James R. Thompson Center.

Rod Blagojevich tried to mortgage the Thompson Center, which was declared unconstitutional by the attorney general and set off a huge row.

Selling the asset outright would be much different than that RRB move.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

55 Comments
  1. - AlabamaShake - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    Ken Griffin can step in and rescue Rauner and buy the building.


  2. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    Maybe they ought to fix it up a little first. You know, some fresh paint and carpet might give it a little extra curb appeal. It’s a definitely a fixer-upper if not a complete tear-down.


  3. - The Captain - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    Good riddance. It’s a terrible use of land, most of the building is empty space. It’s a giant greenhouse with the executive floors on the top so the hot/cold is always terrible throughout the building and at Christmas when they bring in carolers to sing in the food court 16 floors of offices can’t hear themselves think because it’s a giant echo chamber. Anything else would be preferable.


  4. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    CTU had a rally there yesterday and I think he’s scared he’ll get union germs.


  5. - Nicholas - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    It will make a good looking Bus Station.


  6. - Arsenal - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    I’m really interested in the idea of the state government reducing it’s physical foot print, but I’m a little uncomfortable with the center of so much state business not belonging to the state.


  7. - Under Further Review - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    The place was and is a disaster area. It would be the perfect place for the Lucas Museum as it looks like an aging starship.


  8. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    It’s nice having most of the state agencies in the same building. It’s nice being connected to the pedway and the CTA. It’s nice being right downtown as well. It’s more efficient than some think.


  9. - Arsenal - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:08 pm:

    Although, holy cow, selling the JRTC would be a pretty potent symbol to Chicago that Bruce Rauner doesn’t care about it.


  10. - Wordslinger - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:11 pm:

    I hear a retractable awning can add thousands to the value of your home. Maybe a deck, too. Makes it pleasant on those hot days of summer.

    Downtown real estate is hot as a pistol right now, but I’m not so sure this wouldn’t be a teardown I’m not opposed to an outright sale.

    But the devil is in the details. I don’t recall the Blago particulars — was a leaseback deal considered kosher? That could be a sweet score for someone.


  11. - Dirty Red - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:13 pm:

    Have they put out an RFI, or are they just talking to people?


  12. - Juice - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:15 pm:

    I think it’s worth taking a look because the building is terrible, but I have a number of concerns. One of the ways that downtown has been able to stay vibrant is by having large employers of middle class folks based in the loop. The State is one of those employers, and taking a few thousand employees out of downtown could have a severe impact on area business. If there is another anchor (casino, Obama library, Lucas museum) in line to take over that land, it could be great, or there could be another Block 37 debacle in the offing.


  13. - relocated - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:16 pm:

    Typical Rainer. Buy something and sell off the parts.


  14. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    Obama library is going to NYC from what I have read; they’re holding off on the announcement until after the mayoral election.


  15. - Dirty Red - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:21 pm:

    = It would be the perfect place for the Lucas Museum as it looks like an aging starship. =

    HA! Nice.

    What better way to move the department heads back to Springfield than sell the office in Chicago?


  16. - Ahoy! - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:23 pm:

    Trump Tower II


  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:26 pm:

    Literally the only thing I’m likely to agree with Rauner on.


  18. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:26 pm:

    All I could think of was Rich’s oft-used “Mess with the Bull…” Didn’t Thompson come out a little critical of the new Gov and his stance on unions? Ha, I am sure the developer will agree to keep the name.

    (Note: I don’t actually think he is this petty… at least I think I don’t think.)

    It could potentially make a lot of sense to sell and relocate elsewhere or scatter offices across downtown. But that puppy is definitely a tear-down.


  19. - Very Fed Up - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    There is no reason why the state needs office space in the most expensive real estate this state has to offer. Selling off and relocating all state offices possible back to Springfield is a logical way to cut costs.


  20. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    The only downtown Taco Bell is there.


  21. - Under Further Review - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:30 pm:

    Form follows function in architecture, but not at the Thompson Center. The Old State of Illinois Building across the street was never torn down because once the new State of Illinois Building was opened the brain trust realized that it lacked sufficient space for all of the government workers. Many agencies are still housed in the “Old” building and elsewhere in the Loop.

    Edgar had the building renamed because he wanted posterity to know who to blame.


  22. - Salty - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:30 pm:

    I generally agree that the Thompson Center is a waste of valuable real estate. However, I am reserving judgment to see what the entire plan would be (I understand there very well not be a plan yet and they are exploring their options). Sell it and move state employees out to somewhere else? Or sell it and then enter into a lease and use the proceeds of the sale to prop up the budget?


  23. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:31 pm:

    If they state isn’t going to maintain the upkeep on the building, selling it may not be a bad idea.

    I don’t have a problem with the state owning a regional office building, we’ve just got to come up with a better way of actually maintaining the buildings. However, the JRTC has issues will continue to have issues regardless you owns it.


  24. - jerry 101 - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:39 pm:

    ===- Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    The only downtown Taco Bell is there. ===

    Addition by subtraction?


  25. - Anontwo - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:39 pm:

    “The only downtown Taco Bell is there.”

    It has been closed down for some time. It is supposed to move locations within the JRTC, but it is still not open.


  26. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:41 pm:

    ==There is no reason why the state needs office space in the most expensive real estate this state has to offer. ==

    State offices provide services to residents. Nearly 3 million of this State’s residents (23%) work in Chicago during the day. That clear things up?


  27. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:45 pm:

    Taco Bell is reopening on the other end of the food court.


  28. - John Parnell - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:45 pm:

    The building is too small and has too much wasted space. Many of the workers could be located in buildings in Springfield at a lower per foot cost to operate.


  29. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    You can’t have everything in Springfield. Workers would be spending tax dollars for travel to and lodging in Chicago constantly. They do now, but it would explode. And you would still have to have Chicago offices for most of the agencies anyway.


  30. - Captain Illini - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:55 pm:

    Clearly the Gov hasn’t been included in the “skim” game yet. If he sells the Thompson building, how is CMS going to skim rents from the other agencies? That’s going to eat into his “fun” money for special projects. But it will be a new way to make friends for all the building leases he’ll need to now house the agencies already there not housed in the Bilandick building…


  31. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:58 pm:

    I’m not sure what this obsession is with housing the entirety of state government in Springfield. It isn’t going to happen, nor should it happen. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to house some operations of state government in Chicago, and this is coming from somebody who doesn’t live in or near Chicago.

    I’ve been to the Thompson Center many times. I personally hate the place. It’s a building that is ugly and massively wastes space. It takes up valuable downtown real estate and I’m sure that the parcel of land alone is worth some bucks. That being said, I’m not sure how you feasibly sell the building and move employees out. That would be a logistical nightmare and I would hope if that is being looked at that they do a bit better job planning than they have, for example, with fair share. I don’t have high hopes that they have.

    The other option is, of course, to sell it and lease the space back. Sounds like a dumb idea.

    I’ll be interested to see what they come up with.


  32. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:02 pm:

    Which, Captain, is correct and may signal the true reason why Rauner is doing this. Leases steered to friends and contributors. Or, a new, larger and more efficient building built by friends and contributors somewhere nearby which would have all my aforementioned advantages of the JRTC without the disadvantages that other posters mentioned (and I basically agree with.)


  33. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:03 pm:

    Rauner is no fan of aging buildings…

    Welp, after 60 days in the Mansion, I can see where he came up with that.

    To the Post,

    Mixed feelings in this, but I was told once that if your building’s “work” cost close to selling it, sell the building.

    The cost to get the JRTC to be, well, livable, might warrant a sale. But, lots of moving parts when you get to “ok, you sold it, now what?”


  34. - HappyToaster - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:06 pm:

    Hasn’t there always been grousing about the Tollway’s “Taj Mahal” which in fact is a dumpy low rise in Downers Grove?


  35. - HappyToaster - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:07 pm:

    IIRC, He skipped out on the Executive Mansion, and is renting.


  36. - HappyToaster - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    Recruitment to Springfield is in fact an issue. Look at the boob the state had to settle on for Governor..


  37. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:11 pm:

    JRTC, the new movie studio. Movies have already been shot there. Stunt falls from 16th floor would look cool. Good for tourists too. Bungee jumping, skiing down the glass front and corrupt union boss pillory station - $1 per tomato toss. Great economic boost to state and city coffers.


  38. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:11 pm:

    I’m not sure how you feasibly sell the building and move employees out. That would be a logistical nightmare

    Happens all the time in the Loop, some firm’s lease is up and they need more room or find a better deal and the current owner won’t renegotiate more favorable terms. There are companies that specialize in office relocation, I would think the state would be better off outsourcing it rather than trying to organize a self-move.


  39. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    ==Rauner is no fan of aging buildings…==

    That is not entirely true… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prasada


  40. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    Stunt falls? I recall two suicides.


  41. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    @Six Degrees:

    Hello. I’m the State of Illinois. Have you met me? lol


  42. - William Jennings Bryan - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:22 pm:

    Put in tower ride in the center like at Great America for guards and it would make a great prison.


  43. - Chicago Guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    It is important that we take pride in our government. The building housing the center of state government for the Chicago area should have a symbolically strong presence. It should not be back office space in a secondary location.


  44. - flea - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:26 pm:

    Maybe ought to give it to somebody he’s mad at and hope they don’t give it back


  45. - MyTwoCents - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:29 pm:

    It’s too early to really decide on whether selling JRTC is a good or bad idea. As for employees in Chicago vs. Springfield I feel that as a general rule unless there is a specific reason for an agency to be headquartered in Chicago (i.e. the majority of business is conducted in Chicago) the HQ should be Springfield and the top staff should be in Springfield the majority of the time. Rauner also said that during the campaign. However I doubt that’s still the case, at least with his new State Fire Marshal who will be based in Chicago. As for other employees, unless the job is northern Illinois-centric, they should be based in Springfield, if nothing more than to save on lease and salary costs.


  46. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:39 pm:

    Horrible building. Best to be rid of it


  47. - Illinois love - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:43 pm:

    So if we use this same sort of thinking, why not sell off the state capitol? Lots and lots of wasted spaces. Just look at all those stairways and balconies. And the offices and bathrooms are really over the top. It is in bad shape, note the falling bricks and why has no one mentioned the silver duct tape on the downspouts?

    As someone mentioned Rauner is a lot better at dismantaling than anything else.


  48. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:44 pm:

    Who is the new State Fire Marshal? I missed the memo and it’s not on El Google.


  49. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:45 pm:

    Keep the building; get rid of Rauner.


  50. - DuPage - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:47 pm:

    They certainly should not sell it unless they have a replacement building for all the offices. Selling it at a fire-sale price as a budget gimmick sounds like something Rauner would do. Then he would have to look for a lot of space to rent. One of his .01% real estate pals probably has space available.


  51. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:54 pm:

    Mr. Moto:

    http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&RecNum=13004


  52. - Mr. Moto - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:57 pm:

    Thanks, Demoralized. I thought he would keep Fire Marshal Larry for some reason. That guy WAS fire. Shows what I know. (Sometimes.)


  53. - Quinn - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:16 pm:

    Where would Quinn have an office if he ran for re-election and was re-elected. God forbid he have to travel to Springfield In “SOUTHERN ILLINOIS”!


  54. - Soccermom - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:34 pm:

    I realize this won’t make any difference, but it should be noted that there are lots of people who love public service but who don’t have the flexibility to move to Springfield.

    Soccermom loooooved working for the State. I’m even pretty fond of Springfield. But Soccerdad’s job would not transfer to SPI. And the Soccerchildren would not have been delighted to leave their school and their friends to start over in Springfield. So if we start moving all the jobs to Springfield, we’re going to lose a lot of talented folks who have to stay in Chicago because of spouses or other family responsibilities.

    You can’t just say to people, “We’re moving your job to Springfield.” Lots of people won’t be able to go. And there would be an incredible loss of institutional knowledge, not to mention the cost of recruiting and training their replacements.

    And then there’s the cost of paying for people’s moves from Chicago to Springfield. I’m guessing it would cost at least $6,000 to $7,000 per move, times however many hundreds of people would be moving. You could certainly tell them that their moving costs are their problem, but you’d lose a bunch more folks by asking them to uproot their families and spend thousands of their own dollars to move somewhere they didn’t actually want to live.

    Of course, you could take a hard line and tell them that their jobs were moving, and they could move with them or terminate. But according to the BLS, there are only about 6,000 unemployed people in the Springfield. I don’t know how many jobs there are at JRTC, but it’s got to be in the thousands. Could the excess Springfield labor force offer replacements for all those people you’d lose (not to mention, as noted above, their lost experience and expertise)?

    You do understand that State employees are human beings with unique skillsets, and family responsibilities, and choices, right?


  55. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:52 pm:

    There have been four suicides at JRTC since it opened. I’ve seen one and heard another. Not one of the better design concepts in that regard.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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