Construction begins on youth center in Lincoln

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

Construction will begin on a new Illinois Youth Center in Lincoln for youth in secure custody of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).

The project, at the site of the former Lincoln Development Center, will align with IDJJ’s new residential, community integrated, restorative justice model.

Funding supports renovations of two 4,300 sq. ft. cottages for housing youth, with additional cottages for programming and administrative use. Additionally, a newly constructed 27,000 square foot multipurpose building will include educational, recreational, and dietary services.

“This campus will be the first Illinois youth center designed in collaboration with IDJJ’s own young people and staff, and the first specifically designed to support trauma recovery, restorative justice and positive youth development,” said Heidi Mueller, director of Illinois department of juvenile justice.

“Lincoln Campus will ensure vulnerable young people from Central Illinois remain closer to their families and communities as they receive the treatment and support that they need.”

Renovations include upgrading mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems, and providing improvements to sidewalks and roadways. The scope of work includes a new athletic field, outdoor basketball courts, and fencing.

New security electronic systems, including closed circuit television cameras, will be installed on site. The upgrades will be a stark improvement to the current condition of the Lincoln Developmental Center property, which has remained vacant since 2002.

The Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) will oversee the design and construction of the Illinois Youth Center at Lincoln in accordance with the protocol for state-appropriated projects. Construction is set to be completed by summer 2024.

The center will provide secondary and continuing education, mental health services, medical care, therapeutic and vocational support, and substance abuse treatment through licensed providers. The facility will provide highly structured programming designed to build youth skills, strengthen families, and promote community safety and positive outcomes for youth.

“Lincoln’s geographic location makes it the perfect place for this facility,” said Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch. “Not only will the new Illinois Youth Center better serve those committed youth from central Illinois, and their families, by having them located closer to home, but it will also stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs, attracting new community members, and generating additional revenue for the city that can be used towards things such as road repairs and improved public services.”

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