Chicago’s Thompson Center: A Real Fixer-Upper

(CBS) — It’s an iconic structure in the heart of downtown: the James R. Thompson Center.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot shows us why state officials say selling the aging structure could benefit the state.

The problems are numerous: water damage on the walls of the auditorium; soundproofing paneling, sags from moisture and age. Carpet in a hallway near Gov. Rauner’s office is held together with duct tape.

The iconic Thompson Center, designed by architect Helmut Jahn and built in 1985, is showing signs of wear and tear.

Michael Hoffman is the Acting Director of the Department of Central Management Services for the State of Illinois. Hoffman took CBS 2 on a tour of areas not seen by the public. He says the heating and cooling system needs to be replaced.

The cost?  Between $60 million and $80 million.

“They had to put additional equipment  down in the sub-basement and then pumped chilled water all the way up to the 17th floor, to augment the system, which really drives up the operating costs of the building,” Hoffman says.

In the fire control panel room, doors are kept open, all the time.

Hoffman explains: “In order to make sure the temperatures inside are kept as low as we can, given the ambient temperature in the room … we don’t have panels overheat and the circuit boards get damaged or destroyed, which by the way, which are obsolete and difficult and impossible for us to obtain.”

Non-cosmetic, deferred maintenance costs are more than $300 million, Hoffman says.

He says selling the state owned structure could bring in $45 million in property taxes for the city and nearly $220 million for the state.

The building is not on the market yet.  Research must be done to see where 2,200 state employees could be transferred.

Jahn, the original architect, favors “repurposing” and modernizing the existing building.

 

 

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