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State to pay Cook County $500,000 a year to rent offices

Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County officials are taking down a “for rent” sign atop the taxpayer-owned Loop government administration building.

The new tenant? The Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General, a state agency charged with rooting out government corruption, mismanagement and waste.

On Tuesday, the state IG’s office and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced they had inked a five-year lease agreement for the 34th floor of the George W. Dunne Building at 69 W. Washington. The move will bring in roughly $500,000 a year to the cash-strapped county government.

About 60 Chicago-based state employees will be moving by the end of the month from 32 W. Randolph to the now-vacant space in the county administration building.

The county is still looking for a tenant for the 35th floor, which has been virtually empty.

Last year, Preckwinkle announced the deluxe digs on the top floors of the building, with sweeping 360-degree views of downtown, the city and Lake Michigan, were open and ready to be rented as is — meaning the county wouldn’t spend money to rehab the floors.

The goal is to bring in $1 million a year for the two floors — a drop in the bucket for a county government operation of $3 billion annually.

But if both floors are rented out at $500,000 a year over 10 years, the $10 million would make a difference, Preckwinkle’s staff has said. Preckwinkle has worked to trim costs and pushed through new and increased fees to mop up the red ink in county governemnt. In preparing the 2013 budget, she had to close a $267.5 million budget gap.

Contributing: Zach Buchheit, Dave McKinney

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