What pandemic?

Capitol renovation plan moves forward

Renovations at the State Capitol are expected to begin this summer and could cost as much as $170 million.

Legislators and the governor’s staff will be moving out of the Capitol and into the nearby Stratton Building, according to the Capital Development Board, which plans to pay a contractor more than $1.8 million to fix up the third floor of the former State Journal-Register building at 313 South Sixth Street to make room for Central Management Services employees currently in the Stratton Building. Workers from the Capitol will then move into the Stratton Building while the north wing of the domed building is renovated. The board says that CMS employees must move from the Stratton Building by year’s end.
click to enlarge Planned renovations at the Capitol could cost as much as $170 million.
Planned renovations at the Capitol could cost as much as $170 million.

Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, did not respond to an email sent Tuesday.

Andrea Aggertt, architect of the capitol who reports to a board that includes the secretary and assistant secretary of the state Senate and the clerk and assistant clerk of the state House, said that work on generators and a fire command center is expected to start this summer. Renovations requiring employees in the Capitol to move is expected to begin next year, said Aggertt, who pegged the cost at between $160 million and $170 million, with a construction timeline of between two and three years.

In addition to aesthetics, Aggertt said, work will include improvements to HVAC systems, plumbing and fire sprinklers. The building also will be made more accessible to the disabled, she added.

The north wing renovation will be the second of a phased renovation of the Capitol. The first, a renovation of the building’s west wing, was completed in 2011 at a cost of $50 million. The 2011 renovation included installation of three copper-plated doors at a cost of nearly $700,000, which drew criticism and over-spending accusations.

Aggertt said she’s aware of potential optics, given tight state finances amid pandemic. But spending, she said, is warranted. “This is the people’s house,” she said. After north wing renovations are complete, other wings will be addressed. “We will keep working our way around the Capitol,” she said.

Money for renovations is coming from a capital spending bill signed by Pritzker in 2019 that included $350 million for improvements to the Capitol complex.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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