Illinois will spend $73 million for a building on Chicago’s near West Side, part of a cost-savings plan to consolidate state employees from multiple downtown buildings including the James R. Thompson Center.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the sale earlier this week, saying state officials plan to move more than 1,000 employees from the Thompson Center and several leased offices downtown to a 17-story nearly 430,000-square building, which was once a regional office for PepsiCo.
The move would save Illinois about $21 million each year. That’s what it spends in rent and operating costs at seven different office buildings in Chicago, according to Pritzker’s office.
The new building will be paid for with capital bonds, repaid over 25 years at a rate of $5 million to $6 million annually, according to T he Chicago Tribune.
“This purchase will provide significant operational savings while providing a state-of-the-art location that meets the specific needs of our operations,” said Janel L. Forde, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.
Illinois has about 3,500 employees between the Thompson Center and the other leased offices, but state officials said only about 900 actually need to be in the Loop, either because of state law requirements or their type of work.
The state has been trying to sell the Thompson Center for years, saying it is inefficient and expensive to maintain. It costs about $17 million annually to operate and needs more than $325 million in maintenance and delayed capital projects.
Pritzker’s administration originally wanted to have a buyer ready by the end of 2020, but lawmakers approved a plan to extend the deadline to April 2022.
Pritzker wants to use use revenue from the sale to boost the state’s severely underfunded pension systems.