A new Thompson Center’s rezoning proposal pushes plans for a supertall development even closer
A path forward in Illinois’ plans for the redevelopment of the Thompson Center has been made a little clearer in Chicago this week, a month after the accidental death of architect Helmut Jahn in a tragic bicycling accident at the age of 83.
A City Council committee approved a proposal from Alderman Brendan Reilly to upzone the troubled building this past Tuesday, doubling the amount of space that can be built on the site and fueling further speculation that the iconic Randolph St. location could be the site of Chicago’s next supertall tower should the measure be approved in a vote that could come as soon as Wednesday.
The change came at the request of Governor J.B. Pritzker, who has been an outspoken proponent of the state’s push to sell the 36-year-old signature building to private developers in an effort to get off the hook for the nearly $17 million in annual costs it takes to maintain the aging property as it currently stands.
Preservationists now face an all-out fight to save Jahn’s shining democratic vision from demolition. Although some feel the Center could ultimately be preserved alongside a tower in a plan similar to the one Jahn himself proposed in 2017, the prospect of a skyscraper could spell doom for the original building provided an effort to have it designated as a national historic landmark falls through.
That scheme could add tax incentives to help offset the lofty half-billion-dollar price tag attributed with restoration but would not bring in the lucrative development opportunities of a new high-rise, which could add $20-25 million a year in property tax revenue to the state’s coffers depending on the height of the building.
“This is a full city block, prime location, downtown. I can assure you there will be lots of interested buyers for that property,” Reilly, who said his proposal offers the building its best chance at preservation, told WGN in March.
Responses to the state’s request for bids are due in August while fans will have to wait until next April and the finalization of the sale announced by Governor Pritzker’s office to see what fate lies in store for the endangered postmodernist gem.
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June 7, 2021 at 05:34PM