Developers to pay state government $70 million to redevelop James R. Thompson Center

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rendering renovated thompson center
Rendering of the proposed redeveloped Thompson Center building

A group led by Michael Reschke, chairman of Prime Group, will pay $70 million upfront to redevelop the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Dec. 15 chose the proposal to preserve the 17-story building as a mixed-use property with office, retail and hotel space — and with the state retaining about a 30% ownership, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The successful proposal won out over a competing plan, that would have resulted in the building being demolished.

Reschke said he expects the sale to close within six months and renovations to start within a year. He said the project — a “gut renovation” including a new glass curtain wall and mechanical systems — should take two years from start to finish, with a budget of $280 million, the newspaper reported.

Reschke said members of the development group initially “were a bit cynical, because of the reputation the building had. But we took a very hard, conscientious look at the opportunity to make further investment in LaSalle Street, for the benefit of local businesses, the city and the state.”

The building, formerly the home of state government in Chicago, was designed by the late architect Helmut Jahn and opened in 1985.

Pritzker said the government will keep 425,000 sq. ft. of state offices in the building.

Reschke’s plan “offered the best vision for the building’s future, preserves the transit hub and yields tremendous cost savings on this property,” the governor said.

In offering the site via a “request for proposals,” the administration chose a flexible process that let it consider several factors, such as quality of design, rather than being forced to take the highest bid. In the end, the state took the highest bid financially but also the one deemed less risky, said Ayse Kalaycioglu, chief operating officer of the Department of Central Management Services, the agency in charge of reviewing the proposals, the published report said.

“She said the rejected bid came from developer Bob Dunn, who wanted to demolish the Thompson Center in a favor of several high-rises. Dunn is the developer advocating the proposed One Central residential and commercial project near Soldier Field, a site he also has offered for a casino.”

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