Four firms vie to manage Thompson Center sale

The state of Illinois looks to shed costs by leaving the Helmut Jahn-designed building.

SHARE Four firms vie to manage Thompson Center sale
An Illinois Department of Central Management Services spokesperson confirmed Saturday that two potential buyers have submitted their plans to acquire the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center.

The Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

State officials said Friday they have received responses from four firms interested in managing the sale of the Thompson Center, which the Pritzker administration has deemed too expensive to keep operating.

The respondents included three among the largest commercial property managers and brokers in Chicago, CBRE Group, Cushman & Wakefield and Jones Lang LaSalle, said a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. The fourth respondent was accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young, he said.

The spokesman said the agency “looks forward to reviewing the proposals and awarding a contract in the near future.’’ No further details were immediately available.

The Thompson Center, state government’s office center in Chicago, opened in 1985. Its glassy design by Helmut Jahn was intended to promote transparency in government, but later concerns about security and years of deferred maintenance hurt the building’s aesthetics. State government workers have said the building, with its soaring atrium, is hot in the summer, cold in the winter and noisy because concerts and events in the public lobby can be heard on the office floors.

While some have argued the distinctive architecture should be saved, state officials have decided they could cut annual operating costs by $17 million if they relocate the offices. Selling the property could lead to demolition by a new owner, but that would require city zoning approvals. The building is named for former Gov. James Thompson.

Officials said bringing the building into good repair could cost $300 million. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation in April authorizing the sale but didn’t include revenue from the deal in this year’s budget. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner had estimated the sale of the full-block site at 100 W. Randolph could bring in $200 million.

The state in late August asked firms to submit proposals for managing the Thompson Center sale. Friday was the deadline to respond.

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