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Rauner to unveil potentially huge Chicago project

Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s Chicago Business

Gov. Bruce Rauner long has argued that one of the state’s best economic bets would be to somehow bridge the 140-mile gap that separates two of its strongest assets: the University of Illinois main campus in Urbana-Champaign and the city of Chicago. He thinks he’s got it figured out.

Joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, Rauner plans to announce tomorrow morning a project called the Discovery Partners Institute, which would be built on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River south of Roosevelt Road that is being developed by Related Midwest. Related calls the site “78″ in reference to hopes of becoming the city’s 78th neighborhood. The property also has been floated as a possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters, which the city and state jointly are pursuing. […]

The institute would be funded initially by as much as $200 million in private donors lined up by the governor, according to people who’ve heard the pitch. Exactly what programs will be represented is unclear, but it likely would involve both the university’s flagship campus and the University of Illinois at Chicago and both research and instruction activities. In broad strokes, the idea is to get academics and companies to collaborate on “pushing the art of the possible,” said one executive who was pitched on the idea by Rauner. It’s part of a broader innovation corridor envisioned by the governor that has multiple “nodes.”

With the clock running out on Rauner’s first term, the announcement would allow him to show some momentum on the economic-development front (along with hopes of landing Amazon and a Toyota-Mazda assembly plant, which the state also is pursuing). The question will be whether he can deliver.

…Adding… Tribune

Already, the proposed project has become the subject of political battles.

Rauner said project leaders have secured numerous commitments for private funding, though the governor would not identify those donors or reveal how much they planned to contribute. The governor also identified a source of public funding for the project that faces several hurdles: the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop.

Last week, Rauner said that he planned to use proceeds from the sale of the Thompson Center to help finance the institute. Rauner has said unloading the 1.2 million-square-foot building would fetch $300 million, though the state would have to pay around $60 million off the top to buy out the leases of the current tenants.

Rauner also said that though he was seeking some public funding for the initial stages of the work, over time he expected the institute to be primarily funded through private dollars.

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said Tuesday that legislative leaders were in talks about the institute but denied there had been any such accord, “in part because there was sort of a lack of detail about exactly how the state funds might be utilized.” Brown also said that the Thompson Center profits are incorporated into this year’s state budget, comprising a large chunk of new revenues.

       

32 Comments
  1. - PJ - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    ===In broad strokes, the idea is to get academics and companies to collaborate on “pushing the art of the possible,” said one executive who was pitched on the idea by Rauner. It’s part of a broader innovation corridor envisioned by the governor that has multiple “nodes.”===

    Can someone please translate Corporate to English for me please? What the hell will this actually be for?


  2. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    “The institute would be funded initially *by as much as* $200 million in private donors *lined up* by the governor, *according to people* who’ve heard the pitch. Exactly what programs will be represented is *unclear*”

    Maybe one could cram more ambiguity and uncertainty into this, but it would be a heavy lift.

    – MrJM


  3. - Sugar Corn - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    Maybe this will undo the damage Rauner unleashed on U of I and the other state universities over the last few years.


  4. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    “The institute would be funded initially by as much as $200 million in private donors lined up by the governor, according to people who’ve heard the pitch.”

    “Initially” and “as much as” and “pitch” seem to be Intersect lingo. How transparent will this process be???


  5. - illini97 - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    The University of Illinois might be in a better position to work with industry if that beast hadn’t been starved for two and a half years by the Governor.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    Both the University of Illinois and the University of Illinois at Chicago have yet to be fully funded for an entire fiscal year by Governor Bruce Rauner.

    Those universities have received this fiscal year’s funding only by the overriding of Gov. Rauner’s vetoes to Higher Education.

    Refusing to fund something, anything, in governing is an indication by a governor, a legislative body, any governing oversight where budgeting is finalized and monies are then allocated more likely than not due to signature of a governor, or an override by the legislature.

    Governor Rauner has flat out refused to fund higher education for an entire fiscal year in Illinois and only by an override is higher education getting its full fiscal year funding now.

    Now… now Governor Rauner wants a private money power play and use the rise of his belief in Illinois’ higher education institutions in Champaign and Chicago?

    Are. You. Kidding. Me?

    Rauner vetoed Higher Education funding for Illinois universities, now state universities are the crux of Rauner “sweeping” “bold” move in Chicago?

    Really?


  7. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    We don’t usually reelect a governor because of potential accomplishments. We reelect based upon real measureable tangible accomplishments, then any potential promises, based upon how well the governor met real accomplishments.

    A promise from Rauner didn’t help Illinois taxpayers, improve state servives, get us better bond ratings, or protect human life from needless abortions, which he now makes us pay for.

    So the results are in - Rauner is a failure and there’s little reason to see otherwise.


  8. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    I have a dumb question, but why can’t this be done at the existing U of I Chicago location? Won’t this be a problem for future students if they have to attend class at both locations?


  9. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    –I have a dumb question, but why can’t this be done at the existing U of I Chicago location?–

    I’m going to guess lack of available land. UIC appears pretty hemmed in.


  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    Right now this is a notion that with some funding could become a concept and, with any luck, eventually an idea.

    Very little sizzle, no steak in sight.

    But that’s some prime undeveloped real estate. Go up in the Sears Tower, look south and it just jumps right out at you.


  11. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    This sounds more like a notion than a project.

    And also, Chicago’s doing OK with attracting business. This would be better anchored to UIUC.

    (Then again, I think everything would be better anchored to UIUC. I-L-L, baby.)


  12. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    So let me get this straight.

    The Guv is counting on proceeds of the sale of the JRTC

    A sale that hasn’t materialized. (Or come close to materializing)

    And of that speculative sale, he is banking on $300 million in proceeds. Which seems high, even more so when you consider that they will have to pay $60 million to break the current leases.

    And those dubious funds, from that speculative sale, are already spent in this year’s fiscal year budget?

    Those are some of the funds that the Guv is counting on for this project?

    That’s so Rauner. (Apologies to the Cubs)


  13. - SaulGoodman - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:58 am:

    LOL. Rauner has been complaining about the unbalanced budget. That “unbalanced” budget includes revenue from the sale of JRTC. But Rauner wants to use the proceed of the sale of JRTC for another project, even though that revenue has already been spoken for.

    What a joke…


  14. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:58 am:

    I am glad to see that even though the Thompson center is not sold the non existent money from the non existent sale is not only counted in the new budget but will also be used twice once more for this project. U of I has an outstanding accounting school maybe the politicians should use it


  15. - SaulGoodman - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    **That’s so Rauner. (Apologies to the Cubs)**

    #ThatsRauner should be a hashtag that could/should take off.


  16. - illini - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    In spite of his “history” and recent “good words” about UIUC our Governor has never been at all supportive of my Alma Mater or any of Higher Ed.

    Any successes these institutions may experience in surviving the willful destruction of their legacies is strictly on them and to0 their credit.

    And I agree, the U of I could do much better going it solo with corporate investors than by relying on this administration to promote its preeminence, leadership and innovation.


  17. - Sugar Corn - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Geez…this is smelling a little snake oily.

    If this depends on the sale of JRTC, heaven help the U of I


  18. - Illinilaw - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    Great plan Bruce. Let’s starve our existing public colleges, steal staff and resources from one of the top engineering and computer science programs in the state, and start another satellite campus in the same city and at the same time, you (again) announce cuts to human service programs. All for a two hour drive from Chicago.

    Makes perfect sense.


  19. - Swift - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    Sell JRTC and move state operations to the new campus. If any entity needs “pushing the art of the possible,” it is Illinois state government. As a state employee of ten years now I am just now employing the same technology I used in the private sector. Yes the state is broke, but maybe state offices are a perfect test bed for developing technologies.


  20. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Rauner… graduate of The Haney Business School-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm8-_dXTqPg


  21. - IllinoisBoi - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    UIUC and UIC are like Itchy and Scratchy — I just can’t see them playing nice together.


  22. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:57 am:

    I see the CAVER brigade also know as Citizens against virtually everything Rauner is out in full force today

    Even good news is bad news. I expect the Speaker will be his usual cooperative and professional self as he was on the Thompson Center, Stevenson Expressway proposal, Senator Cullerton’s pension bill and the budget.


  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    Is there a limit to how many times you can spend the specalutive proceeds from a property sale that as of yet is nowhere in sight?

    After you’ve already spent it two or three times, do you think you can drive a hard bargain when it actually comes time to negotiate with potential buyers?


  24. - RNUG - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    My first reaction is … How many times are we going to use the sale of the JRTC to balance the budget or fund something?


  25. - don the legend - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    How many different uses has Governor Junk given for the hypothetical sales proceeds for the Thompson Center?


  26. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    What happens to all the people that work at the JRTC? Should not the money made off the sale go to pay for new space for them?

    Also, how is this much open land vacant in the heart of Chicago? What is it currently used for? A park? What was it before? A Superfund site?


  27. - Northsider - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    == Also, how is this much open land vacant in the heart of Chicago? What is it currently used for? A park? What was it before? A Superfund site? ==

    Based on the description in the post, I’m guessing the land for “78″ was railroad yards, buildings and approach tracks to the now-defunct Dearborn and Grand Central stations.


  28. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===Is there a limit to how many times you can spend the specalutive proceeds from a property sale that as of yet is nowhere in sight?===

    Schrodinger’s property sale.


  29. - James - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    To sell the Thompson Center you’ll have to be able to work with other interested parties, meet some of their needs through compromise. It’s not like selling your motorcycle. Thompson and G Ryan could have gotten it done. The Thompson Center sits there as a daily reminder of the cooperative skills our Governor lacks.


  30. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    Here’s an issue the Governor can get private donation for building something but won’t try to get some of his wealthy donors to donate to education, elderly and disabled. That is a sad shame the ones who need help can’t get it and the stuff we don’t need we go and do. Simply a joke.


  31. - IllinoisBoi - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    ==Based on the description in the post, I’m guessing the land for “78″ was railroad yards, buildings and approach tracks to the now-defunct Dearborn and Grand Central stations.==

    Correct. The site is on the east side of the south branch of the Chicago River, bordered by Roosevelt on the north, Clark on the east and 18th St on the south. Pretty prime real estate, right on the river, halfway between I-90 and Lakeshore Drive.


  32. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 4:35 pm:

    How about bridging the gap with high speed rail, instead of another building?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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