As the state prepares to accept bids to rehab or more likely demolish the dilapidated Thompson Center, an attorney and civic activist is throwing a new idea on the table: condos
In a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago lawyer Clint Krislov suggests that instead of just selling the property for $300 million or so, the state instead convert its proceeds into an ownership share of about a third of a $600 million office tower that would replace the current structure. Read the letter below.
The state would have to forgo an immediate payday, Krislov conceded in a phone call. But for “not a dollar in new investment,” the state would gain hundreds of thousands of square feet of new office space that it would use for its own needs or, if the need isn’t there, lease out to others.
“This would give the state the flexibility it needs while creating property taxes,” said Krislov, noting that any space not used by the state would go back onto to tax rolls. “It’s a move for the state’s future.”
Pritzker’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
When it put the building on the market, the state purchased a new building at 555 W. Monroe Street just west of the Chicago River where it has been moving workers from the Thompson Center.
The facility has 430,000 square feet of office space, but in Krislov’s view is “less accessible” to the average person than the Thompson Center, which is located in the center of the Loop with several el lines just a short walk away. “They need flexibility, and this location is more central,” he continued, saying the West Monroe property could be sold or leased to others if need be.
Krislov said a “similar” transfer of land rights into partial building ownership occurred when the former IBM building was transformed into a hotel and office space for other users.
The timetable for selling the Thompson Center has slowed down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The current schedule calls for bids to be received by Oct. 8, with a sale closing no later than next April.
Krislov is the name partner in a Chicago law firm and head of a policy group, the Center for Open Government. An occasional candidate for office—he ran for Illinois Supreme Court a few years ago but was knocked off the ballot on a petition challenge—he gained fame as an opponent of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s infamous parking meter deal.