The debate over the James R. Thompson Center’s future has taken yet another turn, and this time, the Loop postmodern structure has gained a powerful ally: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It’s not so much that Chicago’s mayor is seeking to preserve the Helmut Jahn structure—instead, Emanuel says that there’s still much uncertainty over who is responsible for the possible cost of rebuilding the busy Clark/Lake CTA station which is based in the state-owned building.
“There’s a very big questions here,” Emanuel said at a press conference yesterday. “We have one of the busiest ‘L’ stations in the entire network of 140-plus stations. If you sell it and it has to come down, who builds it? Who takes the cost?”
Emanuel’s concern is that city taxpayers could be on the hook for the eventual reconstruction and redevelopment of the CTA station, which the mayor suggests could cost upwards of $80 million to $100 million. Mayor Emanuel suggested yesterday that if the Thompson Center and the Clark/Lake station is demolished, the city will expect either the State of Illinois or the developer that ends up purchasing the Thompson Center to cover the cost of a new station.
Despite Emanuel’s vow, the mayor does appear to be open to the idea of a Thompson Center redevelopment. “Just tell me how you’re gonna fix the L station and I’ll be open to your suggestion,” the Sun-Times reports Emanuel saying.
The state has been exploring the sale of the property since 2015, and earlier this year, the latest effort to unload the building came with some conceptual renderings from the illustrious Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture showing how the site could be repurposed. However, preservationists and architecture critics continue highlighting the building’s architectural significance in hopes to sway public opinion and save the structure. Even the Thompson Center’s own architect has provided a solution to adapt and reuse the existing building by integrating a new tower onto the site.
It has been reported that the sale of the Thompson Center could earn the state over $200 million while simultaneously avoiding a deferred maintenance bill estimated to cost well over $300 million.
- Emanuel puts brakes on Rauner plan to sell Thompson Center [Sun-Times]
- Emanuel says Thompson Center sale tied to 'L' station [Chicago Tribune]
- Why Chicago’s Thompson Center is worth saving [Curbed Chicago]