Riley Calls for a Development Plan Ahead of Sale of Thompson Center

James R. Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center. (By Primeromundo – Originally from en.wikipedia. Original uploader was Primeromundo at en.wikipedia, Public Domain)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- As Governor Bruce Rauner continues to push the concept of selling the James R. Thompson Center; Illinois state government’s downtown Chicago epicenter, state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, Chair of the State Government Administration Committee, says that there are a number of factors looming over the sale that the governor must consider.

“It sounds good in sound bites to say that the sale of the Thompson Center will bring revenue to our state, but there are variables that the governor has to take into consideration,” said Riley. “To sell this building for its highest value would require a major zoning variance. You also have to take into consideration that one of Chicago’s busiest, and most profitable, CTA stations is located at the Thompson Center. To have this station close, or to have Chicago taxpayers foot the bill for extraordinary costs would be out of line.”

Because of revenue problems in the state, deteriorating conditions of the building and a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $325 million, Rauner’s plan in October 2015 to sell the building and the city block it sits on did not come as much of a surprise. As Rep. Riley stated, a major issue lies in the fact that in order to take advantage of the possible gains from selling the building, the Thompson Center would require a significant change to zoning. This zoning variance is necessary to increase the building’s value from its current state; an estimated $90 to $110 million. The issue is complicated even more with the commitment from Mayor Emanuel to not agree to a sale unless the multilevel “L” station, a major hub for six CTA lines, would remain open during construction and leave Chicago taxpayers with no additional burden.

“The bottom line is, not a dollar can be placed into state coffers until these complex issues like the CTA station, zoning variances, future uses, breaking long-term retail leases and others have been completely resolved,” said Riley. “Many buildings in the 1970’s and 1980’s were built with an eye towards design and monumental scale.

However, they lacked in function, utilization of space and energy efficiency. I think that many can agree that the Thompson Center is coming to the end of its’ utility. However, this is a major undertaking that must be done right. We simply cannot put the proverbial cart before the horse. The people of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois are counting on us to insure that this process is transparent, prudent and to their fiscal and developmental benefit”.

Riley represents the 38th District, which includes Tinley Park, Hazel Crest, and other neighboring communities. For more information, please contact Riley’s district office at 708-799-4364.