Sun-Times Editorial: A federal case: U.S. government shouldn’t wreck two Loop skyscrapers in the name of safety

“The federal government has given Chicago some pretty good buildings, from the giant Art Deco Old Main Post Office — now enjoying reuse — to the superlative midcentury federal center downtown.

“So why would the U.S. General Services Administration now raise a hind leg to this legacy by wrecking the Century and Consumers buildings, two early 20th Century skyscrapers at 202 and 220 S. State Street?

“U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL, last month earmarked $52 million for the GSA to demolish the terra-cotta clad towers and two small buildings between them, replacing the ensemble with a safety buffer to protect the Dirksen Federal Building, which is located a block west on Dearborn Street.

“The GSA owns the buildings and has been seeking the demolition since 2019, about two years after then-U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ruben Castillo told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin his concerns that Century and Consumers sat close to the Dirksen’s eastern side.

“But is this reason enough send the towers to a landfill — when the federal center is surrounded by buildings and through-streets? The Berghoff Restaurant buildings, 17 W. Adams St., nearly touch the Dirksen’s north edge, but the GSA tells me it has no plans to come after those structures or others.

“The feds won’t create a moat around the federal center, but replacing the Century and Consumers with a ‘secure and landscape[d]’ site, as the GSA spokesperson says, is no good either.

“The buildings’ demolition would create an economic and pedestrian dead zone on State Street, something neither the street nor the city can afford.

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