City, state leaders hope planned innovation center, Accenture Tower will bring workers back

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago city and Illinois state leaders are hoping their announcement of two new building projects will lure Chicago workers back downtown in person.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported Friday, a striking dome of steel and glass along the South Branch of the Chicago River will house the future Discovery Partners Institute.

The DPI is a project from the University of Illinois that will bring an academic and research facility to the South Loop riverfront.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker were both present as a model was unveiled Friday.

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Office of Gov. Pritzker


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Office of Gov. Pritzker


“The new DPI headquarters will house offices, classrooms, labs, and event space along the Chicago River – turning a long-vacant, old railyard into a world-class talent and innovation powerhouse, with the aesthetic to match,” Pritzker said.

Leaders hope the development will propel Chicago forward as a tech city, and encourage engineering, tech, and business talent to stay in the city.

“There has been a lot of talented engineering talent moving to the coasts, and in part, that’s part of our whole exercise here is to keep them in the state,” said Timothy Killeen, president of the University of Illinois.

The DPI project is expected to break ground in 2024. It will be the first to start construction in The 78 innovation district – a 62-acre site along the River’s South Branch that will connect the South Loop and Chinatown.

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Office of Gov. Pritzker


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Office of Gov. Pritzker


Meanwhile, Accenture – a global consulting firm – officially opened its 264,000 global Chicago headquarters at 500 W. Madison St. in the West Loop Gate on Friday. The building – formerly named the Northwestern Atrium Center and the Citigroup Center – has now been renamed the Accenture Tower.

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CBS 2


Mayor Lightfoot was also on hand for the ribbon-cutting at Accenture Tower on Friday.

“Welcome back to a city that’s missed you,” the mayor said.

The company took over seven renovated floors in the 40-story high-rise, which is connected to the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Despite record downtown office vacancies in Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot  hopes the company’s 6,500 employees will help revitalize the downtown economy.

“Your neighbors have missed you. The small businesses that have been built up in this tower and around the area that really depend upon you being here – we missed being together,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “You can’t build culture and teams by being apart.”

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