(CBS) — Finally, some good news for taxpayers: a financial windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. But it’s not a done deal yet.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the Rauner administration is moving full speed ahead to see if it really makes sense to sell the James R. Thompson Center and move more than 2,000 state employees elsewhere.READ MORE: Brookfield Zoo Hosting Blood Drive Wednesday; Free Admission With Donation
It was all smiles for the governor Wednesday, renaming one state building for a prominent politician, even as it appeared he was dead serious about taking a former governor’s name off another. The Thompson Center in Chicago, long the subject of sale rumors, is now a step closer to being put on the market.
Tom Tyrrell, the architect of the CPS sale of its headquarters, is now heading up the proposed Thompson Center sale, which one real estate insider told us today, could top $300 million, with 10-year operating savings of nearly $200 million.
As to where state workers would go: there’s the Bilandic Building across the street and the old Maine North High School, closed in 1981 and sold to the state. Judging from the parking lot there’s plenty of room there.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Girl Killed In Hit-And-Run Crash In Hermosa
State workers weren’t anxious to talk about it, and others weren’t excited about the idea either.
Some consider the center’s beautiful soaring atrium a drawback, an inefficient use of space and probably better for an office building, rather than the casino some see there. While the main floor and concourse would be enough space for gaming positions, the upper 15 floors, most without windowa, would not be ideal for hotel rooms.
“This is going to be a perfect fit for somebody,” said Tyrrell. “You have to question whether or not it’s the best fit for our state employees and is it the best use of our tax dollars to continue to stay at the Thompson Center.”MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Sunny Day Ahead
Meanwhile the man whose name is on the building started to laugh when Levine called about his losing his naming rights. On selling the building, former Governor Jim Thompson said it is up to them, but it might be better if they spend their time trying to bridge a $6 billion budget gap.