A department within theBureau of Economic Development, Real Estate Management is an integral part of the strategic capital planning process, with responsibility for management of the County’s real estate assets, purchasing and leasing property needed for County purposes, and disposing of real estate deemed non-essential for such purposes. The Department of Real Estate Management exists to ensure that appropriate owned or leased facilities are available in which Cook County departments and elected officials may efficiently provide public services and carry out the operations of Cook County Government.
Under the leadership of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Department of Real Estate Management has adopted a fresh approach to the County’s real estate portfolio, taking steps to improve efficiency in the use of leased and owned properties.
Real Estate Strategic Realign Plan (REASRP)
The final report of the Real Estate Asset Strategic Realignment Plan (REASRP) has been completed. This two-year joint initiative, in partnership with the Department of Capital Planning and Policy and our consultants, a team headed by U. S. Equities Realty, developed a strategic real estate plan based on data gathered from all of the County’s elected officials, agencies and departments, and every one of the over 200 structures occupied by the County. Highlights of the Plan are described below, with additional information found in the Executive Summary.
Highlights of Plan:
Reduce Downtown Office Space
The County occupies 1.6 million square feet of office space in downtown Chicago. This includes the County Building, the George W. Dunne Administration Building and the non-courtroom areas of the Richard J. Daley Center. By adopting more modern space use standards and reconfiguring offices, the County will be able to reduce the office space it uses by up to 22 percent. The County would then be able to lease its available downtown office space to other entitites to generate revenue, which is expected to cover renovation costs. The County has already leased the 4th, 34th and 35th floors at the Dunne Building and is focusing on consolidations that will free up additional space.
Consolidate Highway Facilities
The County maintains five highway facilities which serve as district headquarters for road maintenance operation. Snow plows and other necessary equipment to maintain county roads and highways are housed at these facilities. The County plans to close the LaGrange Park location by consolidating the functions and staff to other district facilities. Available space at the Orland Park maintenance facility would be repurposed as an impound lot for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, allowing the County to sell the current impound lot. This work will begin in 2014.
Modern Records Storage
The County uses three warehouses – which total roughly 985,000 square feet – to store records. It cost about $5.5 million a year to maintain that space. Modernizing County records collection is expected to reduce storage space between 20 to 30 percent. As an example, the County will be able to increase the density of boxes per square foot up to eight from two at the new Cicero Records Center, completed in 2014. The County plans to implement this plan within three years.
Repurpose Oak Forest Health Center Campus
Oak Forest Health Center occupies 1.1 million square feet. The County estimates roughly 50 percent of the campus is underused or used as inactive storage areas. Over the next 15 years, it will cost the County $251 million to maintain these buildings. With some of the buildings on campus dating back to 1910, the County also estimates the campus will need roughly $129 million in capital repairs. In order to avoid expenses on functionally obsolete buildings the County intends to reduce the Oak Forest Health Center Campus by up to 75 percent. Health care services would be located in buildings designed to enhance the delivery of care and reduce costs. This work would take four to five years.
This project is the centerpiece of the Real Estate Management program to support the President’s commitments to fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency, innovative leadership and improved public service. For more information, please contact Anna Ashcraft, Director, Real Estate Management at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Real Estate Management Division is developing goals and tracking performance as part of President Preckwinkle’s S.T.A.R. program. Our goals, accomplishments and cost savings can be tracked by the public at:http://blog.cookcountygov.com/performancemanagement/.
Additionally, our public data is available through the President’s Open Data Project.
The Division is an active participant in an exciting new City/County Collaboration initiative announced by President Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. This initiative is establishing new and strengthened ties with the City of Chicago, with a focus on saving money through collaboration in the use of real estate assets. Current efforts include a review of available properties owned by each entity, to determine possibilities for co-location and cost savings. This collaboration is already productive as a forum for sharing information, benchmarking, and identifying opportunities for collaboration in the use and management of real estate assets.