Federal agency to raze three-story building on State Street

The more than century-old structure is between two taller buildings that preservationists are fighting to save. The General Services Administration said the smaller building has a facade that could collapse.

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The three-story building with the white facade at 208-212 S. State St. will be torn down, the General Services Administration said.

The three-story building with the white facade at 208-212 S. State St. will be torn down, the General Services Administration said.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

The federal government said it will demolish a vacant three-story building it owns on State Street because it poses a safety hazard.

The building is at 208-212 S. State St. and is between two taller buildings involved in a preservation fight. The General Services Administration, which manages federal property, said the demolition will affect neither of those buildings nor a four-story structure at 214 S. State.

The demolition should take four to six weeks and has an expected start date of April 14, the GSA said. The 208-212 property is listed in records as the John R. Thompson Co. Building dating from 1920.

“A recent conditions assessment found the non-historic building, which has been unoccupied for several years, is not structurally sound and presents risks, including potential facade collapse that would endanger pedestrians and street traffic,” the GSA said. Last month, it closed the sidewalk in front of the buildings while it examined the facades.

The federal government owns the four buildings that cluster on State south of Adams Street and has appropriated $52 million to tear them down as potential security risks for the Dirksen Federal Building on Dearborn Street. Preservationists and the business group Chicago Loop Alliance have argued the taller buildings at 202 and 220 S. State can be saved as examples of early 20th century skyscrapers while addressing security concerns.

Because the taller buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, the GSA has been holding required hearings to consider alternatives to demolition. The agency said it is continuing that process.

The hearings also involve the future of the four-story building at 214 S. State, the oldest of the grouping. Records show it dates from 1887. It has been significantly altered over the years.

All four buildings have been vacant for years and are in poor condition. Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, has advanced reuse ideas and said of the GSA, “They just haven’t been the best stewards of these structures. It seems like demolition by neglect.”

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