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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.

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.

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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

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