Thompson Center sale finalized with Google to be building’s lone occupant

Thompson Center sale finalized with Google to be building’s lone occupant

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – After years of failed efforts that spanned multiple administrations, the state has finalized the sale of the controversial James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to a company that will make it the new Chicago home of tech giant Google.

Gov. JB Pritzker made the announcement during a news conference at the building, along with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and officials from the development company and Google. Pritzker said the sale will save the state millions on deferred maintenance costs.

“When the project is done, the first Googlers will be walking into this atrium for an entirely redeveloped and truly magnificent experience, one that comes as Google continues to dramatically expand its footprint in Illinois,” Pritzker said.

Designed by architect Helmut Jahn, the 17-story structure first opened in 1985, featuring a large atrium, food court and 1.2 million square feet of office space that currently houses offices of 50 state agencies.

But its unique, postmodern design, which some have compared to a spaceship, has long been the subject of both praise and criticism, and its high cost of maintenance and operations, estimated at $17 million a year, has been a drain on state resources.

In 2003, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, proposed selling the building, but that deal never went through and with state funding cuts, it began to fall into disrepair. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, also proposed selling it in 2015 and again in 2017, but lawmakers at that time could not agree on a plan amid the ongoing two-year budget impasse, which led to further deferred maintenance on the building.

A 2016 cost study estimated it would take $300 million to bring the building into good repair, and the governor’s office said that cost is projected to increase to over $525 million if maintenance needs are not addressed by 2026.

In 2019, Pritzker signed legislation that had originally passed the General Assembly two years earlier authorizing a new process of trying to sell the building through a competitive bidding process. And in January 2021 officials announced plans to begin moving employees out of the Thompson Center into another building the state had purchased for $73.5 million at 555 W. Monroe.

Then in December 2021, officials announced tentative plans to sell the building for $70 million to JRTC Holdings LLC, a firm managed by real estate developer Michael W. Reschke and the Capri Investment Group. Under that deal, the state would have purchased back 425,000 square feet of newly renovated office space and it would have contributed $148 million for its share of the renovations.

Under the new agreement announced Wednesday, however, the state will sell the entire building for $105 million and use $75 million of that to buy another building nearby in the central Loop area, at 115 S. LaSalle, currently the headquarters of BMO Harris Bank which plans to relocate.

JRTC Holdings will perform the renovations on the LaSalle building to accommodate the state’s operations after BMO Harris Bank vacates the building. The improvements there are expected to take 18 months with partial occupancy expected within eight months from the closing, the governor’s office said in a news release

“This trade was a huge win-win for everyone,” Reschke said. “Google was able to secure 100 percent of this iconic building for future headquarters and the state will now own 50 percent more space on LaSalle Street at 50 percent less cost.”

Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, California, has had a presence in Chicago since 2000. It currently employs about 2,000 employees in the city’s Fulton Market area.

Karen Sauder, Google’s president of global clients and agency solutions, said the company eventually plans to buy the building itself in order to bring its employees into the downtown area.

“The way we see it, the Thompson Center is more than just a building,” she said. “Establishing a presence here in the loop allows us to get in on the ground floor of revitalizing and breathing new life into the very heart of the city. Just as we’re proud of the role we played in turning Fulton Market into one of the most vibrant and energetic neighborhoods in the city, we have the opportunity to do it all over again here.”

The moves by the state are part of a larger effort to optimize its real estate holdings in downtown Chicago.

Prior to those efforts, the state owned three buildings in the area, including the Thompson Center, and leased office space in seven other buildings. Together, according to the Department of Central Management Services, those properties exceeded 2.3 million square feet.

Cathy Kwiatkowski, deputy director of CMS, said in an email that the state only needs about 1.7 million square feet, a need that could be met by buying two buildings, terminating six private leases and maintaining leases only in publicly owned buildings.

CMS estimates the optimization effort will reduce its downtown Chicago real estate portfolio by more than 475,000 square feet by 2024.

The governor’s office estimated the consolidation will save the state nearly $1 billion over 30 years.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Chicago Police Department

‘That’s more like it’

Neighbors praise police for confronting rowdy crowds By Tim Hadac A year ago, crowds of Mexican Independence Day revelers trashed Pulaski Road—mostly between the Stevenson Expressway and Archer Avenue. In 2022, the partiers were back, but this time they appeared to be met by a more robust and coordinated police response—much to the satisfaction of…

Father Mescall

Father Tom’s welcome lives on

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Back in the June 10 edition of the Greater Southwest News-Herald, we talked about the passing of the Rev. Tom Mescall, who would become the last pastor of St. Adrian Parish before it was combined with Queen of…

Peggy Zabicki

The Mechs are making a difference

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Every day we hear about the crime going on in the area, like shootings, carjackings, drag racing, theft, battery, house and garage break-ins and catalytic converter thefts. These crimes are so discouraging to hear about. Well, here’s some good news. Long time…

Mary Stanek

Central Park looking brighter than ever

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Murals make neighborhoods beautiful, adding color and art to plain walls. So, I took a dog walk towards Central Park to visit the status of the murals on both 58th and 59th Streets. Robert Valadez and his…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound September 21, 2022

GSWNH_SNW04_090922

Spirited soccer struggle in Scottsdale

After several tries over several years, a soccer squad put together by the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch defeated a Chicago Police Department team in a match at Durkin Park. SNW President Jason Huff said while the victory was sweet, both sides actually won, because the purpose of the match was to draw police and the community…

St. Laurence soccer players spray cola during a celebrating winning their division in the Bodyarmor Sports Series soccer showcase. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg boys finish fourth at Richard Spring Invite

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg boys cross country team is unlikely to win back-to-back Class 3A state championships. But the Eagles are still strong, and it showed that Sept. 17 by finishing fourth in the Richard Spring Invitational at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Oak Park won the meet with 75 points followed by…

Evergreen Park running back Antonio Clay-Jones had a game-high 111 yards rushing in a 27-7 loss to Richards on Sept. 16. Photo by Steve Metsch

Football: Fast start helps Richards top Evergreen Park

By Steve Metsch Correspondent Richards had a chip on its shoulder coming into its homecoming game against Evergreen Park. The Bulldogs were not happy being 1-2 entering the game, while the Mustangs came in 3-0. Regardless of those records, the Bulldogs are the perennial favorites in the South Suburban Red, and it was time to…

SXU coach Mike Feminis is two wins away from No. 300. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: St. Xavier wins, moves Feminis within two of milestone

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Saint Xavier lost its first two games by a combined score of 88-10. The last thing the Cougars needed was for Siena Heights to come into Chicago and make itself at home. But the Saints tried, scoring on their first drive and putting the Cougars in a hole. This time,…

Mallory Pugh has 10 goals for the Red Stars. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars hanging on to playoff spot; Fire eliminated from postseason contention

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The Chicago Red Stars returned to Bridgeview with mixed results in two games, but held onto the final playoff spot in the NWSL and increased their lead over seventh-place Angel City. The top six teams make the playoff in the 12-team league. The Red Stars (8-6-6, 30 points) cooled off…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
Chicago Police Department

‘That’s more like it’

Neighbors praise police for confronting rowdy crowds By Tim Hadac A year ago, crowds of Mexican Independence Day revelers trashed Pulaski Road—mostly between the Stevenson Expressway and Archer Avenue. In 2022, the partiers were back, but this time they appeared to be met by a more robust and coordinated police response—much to the satisfaction of…

Father Mescall

Father Tom’s welcome lives on

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Back in the June 10 edition of the Greater Southwest News-Herald, we talked about the passing of the Rev. Tom Mescall, who would become the last pastor of St. Adrian Parish before it was combined with Queen of…

Peggy Zabicki

The Mechs are making a difference

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Every day we hear about the crime going on in the area, like shootings, carjackings, drag racing, theft, battery, house and garage break-ins and catalytic converter thefts. These crimes are so discouraging to hear about. Well, here’s some good news. Long time…

Mary Stanek

Central Park looking brighter than ever

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Murals make neighborhoods beautiful, adding color and art to plain walls. So, I took a dog walk towards Central Park to visit the status of the murals on both 58th and 59th Streets. Robert Valadez and his…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound September 21, 2022

GSWNH_SNW04_090922

Spirited soccer struggle in Scottsdale

After several tries over several years, a soccer squad put together by the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch defeated a Chicago Police Department team in a match at Durkin Park. SNW President Jason Huff said while the victory was sweet, both sides actually won, because the purpose of the match was to draw police and the community…

St. Laurence soccer players spray cola during a celebrating winning their division in the Bodyarmor Sports Series soccer showcase. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg boys finish fourth at Richard Spring Invite

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg boys cross country team is unlikely to win back-to-back Class 3A state championships. But the Eagles are still strong, and it showed that Sept. 17 by finishing fourth in the Richard Spring Invitational at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Oak Park won the meet with 75 points followed by…

Evergreen Park running back Antonio Clay-Jones had a game-high 111 yards rushing in a 27-7 loss to Richards on Sept. 16. Photo by Steve Metsch

Football: Fast start helps Richards top Evergreen Park

By Steve Metsch Correspondent Richards had a chip on its shoulder coming into its homecoming game against Evergreen Park. The Bulldogs were not happy being 1-2 entering the game, while the Mustangs came in 3-0. Regardless of those records, the Bulldogs are the perennial favorites in the South Suburban Red, and it was time to…

SXU coach Mike Feminis is two wins away from No. 300. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: St. Xavier wins, moves Feminis within two of milestone

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Saint Xavier lost its first two games by a combined score of 88-10. The last thing the Cougars needed was for Siena Heights to come into Chicago and make itself at home. But the Saints tried, scoring on their first drive and putting the Cougars in a hole. This time,…

Mallory Pugh has 10 goals for the Red Stars. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars hanging on to playoff spot; Fire eliminated from postseason contention

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The Chicago Red Stars returned to Bridgeview with mixed results in two games, but held onto the final playoff spot in the NWSL and increased their lead over seventh-place Angel City. The top six teams make the playoff in the 12-team league. The Red Stars (8-6-6, 30 points) cooled off…

DVN First United Realtors House Ad
CRR NH Obbies Pizza House Ad