Did you know Riverbender.com is free for you thanks to our awesome advertisers? We noticed you're using an ad block software. Help us spread the word and give our sponsors some exposure by disabling your ad blocking service for Riverbender.com.
dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">A longtime Springfield observer says a vacant, state-owned building just north of the Illinois state capitol is a terrible waste and is urging for something to be done with it.
Self-described historian Tony Leone, who once served as chief clerk of the Illinois House, said the now vacant 315,000 square foot Illinois State Armory just across the street from the capitol building is a great space with a big stage for lectures and big open spaces, but “it is in [need of] really desperate repair as far as the roof.”
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Leone said. “The bleeding has got to be stopped.”
Click here for summary
The Capital Development Board in 2013 estimated the cost of a full buildout and renovation of the building would be $108 million, but the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which oversees the property, said that cost has undoubtedly escalated over the past five years.
Leone has been critical of the planning surrounding Illinois’ bicentennial celebrations. He said the armory falling apart is an example of the poor planning.
“They could put a dedication going for the state armory and [it] just sitting there is a terrible waste,” Leone said, “and maybe that’s symbolic of the lack of planning we’ve had.”
CMS said the last state agency to use the building was the Illinois State Police. But that was more than seven years ago. Right now, it’s only being used for minor equipment storage on the lower floor.
CMS said the utility costs are tied to the capitol and are minimal as there’s no climate control operating in the building.
The amory was built in 1936 and was equipped with an auditorium, a gymnasium and a ground floor that could provide temporary seating for several thousands people, according to history website the Sangamon County Historical Society. It also served as a sports arena.
The building had a cavalcade of historical figures that visited it in its heyday, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and former presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Harry Truman.