Big Changes for the Thompson Center

Governor Bruce Rauner is once again considering the sale of the government-owned James R. Thompson Center, located at 100 W. Randolph Street in the Chicago Loop. The idea to sell the Thompson Center building has been on the table for some time, originally proposed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. If completed, the sale would generate substantial state funding, potentially upwards of $220 million, to help to offset recent budget deficits. 

Thompson Center Sale & New Construction Possibilities

JRTC saleIf the Thompson Center is approved for sale, it would likely be sold to a developer who would demolish the existing, out-of-date structure and build out a more usable office, retail or mixed-used space. Unfortunately, recent studies of the JRTC have made it unlikely that any future tenant would be interested in taking over the costly ongoing maintenance and inefficiencies associated with the building. 
The projected sale price of the JRTC building and property is likely somewhere in the $100 - $200 million range but will depend greatly on the completion amongst developers, along with estimated costs associated with demo of the existing building. However, the prospect of developing upwards of 3 million square feet in a large city like Chicago is so rare that the competition could be rather fierce when the formal sale takes place.
To date, various architecture firms have put together new construction possibilities and potential uses for the space. So far, the most exciting opportunity, presented by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, has proposed a 117 story building which would surpass the Willis Tower as the tallest building in Chicago.

Thompson Center Building for SaleExisting JRTC Tenants 

Today, the Thompson Center houses Illinois state government offices, including the:
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Illinois House Republican Staff
  • Illinois Court of Claims
  • Chicago district office of the Governor of Illinois
Although Republican lawmakers have created legislation that would allow for the building sale, and have proposed for current state office tenants to move to nearby leased office spaces in the Loop, the proposed legislation is simply the first step in what is sure to be a lengthy process, despite the proposal’s prior initiation attempts.

James R. Thompson Center: Past & Future

The State of Illinois Center building opened in 1985 and was given its current name, James R. Thompson Center, in 1993 in honor of the late Illinois governor of the same name. The 16 story, 1.2 million square foot building takes up a full city block in between Randolph, LaSalle, Lake and Clark Streets and includes convenient access to many of Chicago’s CTA rail and bus lines.
The building’s location houses tremendous untapped potential in Chicago’s Loop. Assuming the sale goes smoothly, it should provide a much needed boost to the financial health of the state budget. 
At Millennium Properties, we look forward to the continued evolution of Chicago’s downtown commercial and residential spaces and anxiously await the outcome of the prospective sales of the JRTC and the future of this unique property.
Anne Barer

About Ro Crawford

Ro has extensive background in several sectors of the Real Estate industry including residential and commercial assets. Ro is responsible for developing a comprehensive marketing plan for each property as well as managing the company’s social media accounts. She designs, writes and edits offering memorandums, press releases, proposals for new business, eblasts and more. For questions, comments, or suggestions related to our blog, you can contact us via our website.