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Thompson Center Sale Gets Key Madigan Support

By David Matthews | February 17, 2017 4:45pm | Updated on February 20, 2017 8:51am
 The James R. Thompson Center at LaSalle and Randolph streets.
The James R. Thompson Center at LaSalle and Randolph streets.
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Flickr/Vincent Desjardins

THE LOOP — Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan is open to selling the Thompson Center, extending a rare olive branch to political foe Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The Democratic leader of the Illinois House said in a statement Friday that state lawmakers should "consider" selling the three-decade-old state office building at 100 W. Randolph St., a move that has long been prioritized by Rauner, a Republican.

A sale would net $220 million, Rauner's office estimates, and make the $326 million tab for deferred maintenance on the building unnecessary. A new development on the site could pay up to $45 million in new property taxes, Rauner's office says.

In a statement, Madigan said "while technical questions pertaining to the sale remain, it is my intention to work with the governor on developing a course of action for the Thompson Center that best serves the interests of the people of Illinois."

Rauner first called to sell the James R. Thompson Center in 2015, saying the 17-story postmodern office building is "ineffective," "inefficient" and "in disrepair."

Rauner has even enlisted star Chicago architect Adrian Smith to design renderings showing the potential of the Thompson Center site in the heart of the Loop.

RELATED: New Renderings Show Promise Of Thompson Center Site, Rauner Hopes

The Thompson Center, named after former Gov. James R. Thompson, opened in 1985 and is known for its shiny dome designed by another star Chicago architect, Helmut Jahn.

Jahn has said that subsequent state administrations have failed to maintain the building. In 2015 he pressed Rauner to rehab rather than raze the Thompson Center, and has offered his own renderings showing the shiny dome can be preserved in a redevelopment.

RELATED: Rauner Plans to Sell Thompson Center, Architect Helmut Jahn Hopes it Stays