County on track to reach its goal of a 1 million square foot reduction by 2018
Continuing her efforts to save taxpayer dollars by reducing Cook County's real estate footprint, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has announced plans to consolidate two County warehouses during 2017 that will create an estimated annual operating savings of $1.46 million.
The plan will reduce the County's footprint by 495,000 square feet, the equivalent of nine acres or almost seven football fields, by Fiscal Year 2018 as the County will shutter one of three current warehouses.
Upon taking office, President Preckwinkle issued an executive order to re-evaluate and devise a strategic multi-year plan to address the County's real estate infrastructure related needs. As a result, the Cook County's Real Estate Asset Strategic Realignment Plan (REASRP) project was initiated to review the condition and use of the County's real estate assets.
The recommendations, once fully implemented, could save the County as much as $192 million over a 10-year period. The President has called for a reduction in County real estate use by 1 million square feet by 2018.
"Cook County historically has not used its space as efficiently and effectively as it should," Preckwinkle said. "Recognizing that this will be a difficult budget year, further consolidating our warehouses is an important step to reducing costs, shrinking our real estate footprint and streamlining operations. We can and should be doing more with less and consolidating our warehouses is another step in that right direction."
A countywide facility condition assessment determined that a strategic reduction of aging and underutilized warehouse facilities could result in substantial operational and energy savings both now and over the longer term. Through further analysis, the Cook County Bureau of Asset Management developed a plan to reduce the County's warehouse portfolio and look for alternatives to provide modern and right-sized storage facilities.
The first phase of this consolidation was the build-out of a new Cicero warehouse, completed in 2014, which combined the Clerk of the Circuit Court's storage needs into one modern and efficient facility, greatly reducing the square footage occupied by these records.
The next phase includes the consolidation of the remaining Rockwell and Hawthorne storage facilities. This consolidation will accommodate the balance of the County's current and future storage needs for the Public Defender's office, State's Attorney's office, Office of the Chief Judge, Sheriff's department, Adult Probation office, Board of Elections, Recorder of Deeds and Cook County Health and Hospitals System.
Since taking office, President Preckwinkle has overseen the County's leasing of the 4th, 16th, 21st, 34thand 35th floors at the George W. Dunne Building, located at 69 West Washington. Additionally, two retail tenants have leased space in the building's lower level. Altogether, these steps brought an increase in annual revenues from the building averaging $2 million per year. The County is also moving forward with plans to demolish several outdated buildings on the Department of Corrections campus.
President Preckwinkle reiterated her commitment to further shrinking the County's facilities footprint and leasing more of the excess space in the Dunne building. The County has set a target of leasing approximately 60,000 square feet by 2018 as part of the ongoing initiative.