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CPS Wants To Sell Its Downtown HQ

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 5, 2013 8:00PM

Photo credit: Ken Smith
Chicago Public Schools announced Monday it opened the bidding process to prospective real estate agencies to sell its downtown headquarters at 125 S. Clark Street in an attempt to cut its $1 billion budget deficit. See, it isn’t only the schools they’re looking to close.

CPS bought the nearly 500,000 square foot space for $8.3 million in 1997. Staffing cuts at their central headquarters have resulted in the school system estimating they need only 200,000 square feet to accommodate the personnel they have. It’s entirely possible that if they can’t find a real estate company who can sell the building at a value CPS feels is reasonable, they would consolidate to only a part of the building and lease the rest. The sale could save the district $2 million to $3 million annually

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in the statement announcing the sale they’re doing this for the children:

“We are exploring every option possible to consolidate resources and reduce spending downtown so we can continue to invest directly in students and their education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “We have far fewer Central Office employees than we did a few years ago. We can’t afford to keep throwing our limited resources at space we don’t need, because it is our children who will ultimately pay that price. It’s time to downsize and find a new location that will better accommodate the scope and size of the Central Office today.”


"Every child in this city deserves to have a high quality education that will prepare them for success and we are working to build a school district that gives our students the best chance to excel," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "CPS and CEO Byrd-Bennett will continue to make smart, necessary decisions to focus our limited resources so that we can continue to make smart, critical investments in our students' bright futures."

WBEZ writes this decision was a long time coming. They found that, in 2012, a nonprofit group called the Civic Consulting Alliance noted on its website commercial real estate firm CBRE, Inc. and architecture/design firm Cannon Design worked pro bono for the school district on a project that evaluated CPS’ space needs. They later did a study to estimate the market sale and leasing pricing for the building. WBEZ reports Cannon Design did nearly $8.5 million in business with CPS last year and $3.86 million to date with them this school year.

Is it possible that CBRE may wind up with winning the bidding process? Stay tuned.