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Illinois to sell landmark Chicago office building

Unloading the 1.2m sq ft building would provide cash for the state's underfunded pensions

New York

FOR sale: Chicago's James R Thompson Center. Illinois governor J B Pritzker signed a bill last Friday that authorises the sale of the 1.2 million square-foot, architectural landmark in the middle of the city's downtown.

Unloading the building - which houses state offices and shops and is known for its glass atrium - would provide cash for Illinois's underfunded pensions, one of the biggest financial strains on his government.

In February, Mr Pritzker said tapping state assets - such as roads and offices - could be a way to chip away at the US$134 billion debt to the retirement system, which has left Illinois facing escalating annual payments and has pushed its bond rating to just one level above junk.

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The bill he signed last Friday provides for the sale of the Chicago building by a competitive process within two years. A request for proposals would be issued in the next seven to 12 months, followed by a review process.

This is not the first time Illinois has contemplated selling the 16-storey building.

Former governor Bruce Rauner, Mr Pritzker's predecessor, unveiled plans in 2015 to sell the building - seeing it as a way to raise some US$300 million for the budget - although they never panned out. BLOOMBERG