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2 bids for the purchase of the Thompson Center from the state of Illinois

Illinois is one step closer to selling the long-controversial James R. Thompson Center.

Two potential buyers for the Thompson Center, the former state government base in the Loop, have emerged, with both groups making proposals to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, an agency spokesman confirmed on Saturday.

However, what comes next for the 17-story building, known for its sloping all-glass facade and domed skylight, remains a mystery. Details on the two proposals were not disclosed in accordance with state law allowing officials to keep submissions secret until a winning plan is selected.

Officials from the central administrative services have begun evaluating the proposals “to determine what is in the best interests of the state and its taxpayers,” the agency spokesman said.

The state is expected to select an offer by the end of this year and sign a purchase agreement by February, with the sale expected to officially close in April.

Governor JB Pritzker has made clear his plans to sell the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center, a building that his administration describes as “oversized, obsolete and expensive”. He signed a bill in 2019 to start selling the building, with a proposed three year deadline to find a candidate.

Pritzker’s move sparked outrage among conservationists, who have called the Thompson Center “iconic” and believe it deserves groundbreaking protection and creative ideas for reuse.

In September, the Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago Architectural Club selected the winners of a global design competition for the Thompson Center. The top submissions transformed the steel-framed building with red and blue accents into a water park, a “vertical loop” of houses and commercial space with a vegetable garden on the roof, or a prototype building school.

The organizers of the competition hoped the results could influence public discussion about whether the Thompson Center can be saved from demolition.

Contributor: David Roeder

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