Greising: Bailey Says Chicago Is in Crisis. Pritzker Declares City Is on the Rise. Who Is Right?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is right to be exuberant over the Thompson Center deal. And rival Darren Bailey's indictment of the city has elements of truth.

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey didn’t mince any words. “Chicago is a city in crisis,” he wrote in his opening to an op-ed in the Tribune this week.

That statement actually may be a measure of progress in Bailey’s assessment of the state’s biggest city. A couple of months ago, Bailey called Chicago a crime-ridden “hellhole.” And that itself was a slight improvement over his 2019 legislative effort to kick Chicago out of the state of Illinois altogether.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker sees the city quite differently. “Chicago and Illinois are open for business,” Pritzker said at a Thompson Center news conference last week. Pritzker’s proof point: Google’s commitment to move into the selfsame Thompson Center, a money pit of a public building that is nevertheless an architectural landmark.

With the redevelopment deal announced last week, the Thompson Center has a chance to morph into a productive role for the city and state. Today a costly lodestone victimized by a deferred-maintenance backlog totaling $525 million if not addressed by 2026, it potentially could anchor a revitalization of the northern part of Chicago’s Loop.

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