PBC Continues to Improve Neighborhood Quality of Life by Building Community Anchors

Openings of fire houses, police station, school and campus parks mark successful 2008 for PBC of Chicago

Kevin Smith, Public Building Commission, (312) 744-9277

With the closing out of a 2008 calendar that included ribbon-cutting ceremonies on a variety of projects, the Public Building Commission of Chicago was proud to have delivered many city-funded improvements that improve neighborhood qualify of life all across Chicago. These projects allow for improved or expanded programs in the areas of public safety, education, health and wellness, and recreation.

“The opening of three new firehouses, five new campus parks, a new police station and a new elementary school in Chicago neighborhoods is an accomplishment we celebrate with both humility and pride,” said Erin Lavin Cabonargi, Executive Director of the PBC. “We are grateful to play a part in providing improved services and valuable community anchors to the residents of this great city, a city unlike many other municipalities in that we continue to invest in our infrastructure and services even through times of economic hardship. This is the city that works, a city that understands the importance of service, labor, strong infrastructure and environmental stewardship.”

Among the projects the PBC opened in 2008 were three new firehouses: Engine Co. 121 at 1724 W. 95th Street, Engine Co. 18 at 1360 S. Blue Island Ave., and Engine Co. 70 at 6030 N. Clark St. The three firehouses used a prototypical design for their core programs, with Engine Co. 70 also featuring a regional training facility.

Miles Davis Academy at 6740 S. Paulina Ave. opened on September 2 as Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chairman of the PBC’s Board of Commissioners, rang the bell to kick off the school year. This is the first school to open under the Modern Schools across Chicago program, an innovative program utilizing TIF and other government funding to support sorely needed school construction. The new 100,000 square-foot elementary school features modern classrooms, an art room, a multi-purpose room, a science lab, a library and a gymnasium. Also opened were the Bennett School, Drummond School, Graeme Stewart School, Ole A. Thorp School and Wacker School campus parks, each of which brought recreational space and the opportunity for additional programming to the community.

The PBC also cut the ribbon Dec. 13 on the new 9th District Police Station, also known as the Deering District Station. Located at 3120 S. Halsted St., the new 44,000 square-foot station is substantially larger than the existing district station and brings expanded services, including a community room, an advanced detention facility, a physical fitness room, expanded locker room facilities and a community policing office. The new 9th Police District Station was designed to achieve “gold” level certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED system; the station is the first PBC project to target this laudable goal.

In 2008, the PBC Board of Commissioners also looked to the future, approving contracts totaling more than $324 million for new facilities that will open in Chicago communities over the next few years.  Work on these projects, over the life of the contracts, will mean thousands of jobs for construction workers, tradesmen, laborers, vendors and others associated with the local construction industry.

The board approved contracts for construction of the new Kelly Curie Gage Park Area High School in the Gage Park community, the new South Shore High School in the South Shore community, the new Langston Hughes/Davis Developmental Elementary School in the Roseland Community, the new Mark T. Skinner Elementary School on the Near West Side, a new Southwest Area Middle School in the Gage Park community and the new Belmont Cragin Area Elementary School in the Belmont Cragin community.

Also approved by the board were contracts for construction of the new 23rd District Police Station in the Lakeview community, a new City of Chicago Southwest Vehicle Maintenance Facility in the Gage Park Community, a new Beverly Branch Library in the Beverly community, a new Norwood Park Senior Satellite Center in the Norwood Park community, a new fieldhouse at Taylor-Lauridsen Park in the New City community, and a new fieldhouse at Jesse Owens Park in the Calumet Heights community.

The progress of 2008 came with new leadership, as Erin Lavin Cabonargi was approved as the PBC’s new Executive Director in March of 2008. She continued the PBC’s commitment to minority- and women-owned business opportunities, to environmental stewardship and to high-caliber civic design.

The PBC maintained its focus on strong partnerships with minority- and women-owned business enterprises. The contracts awarded in 2008 totaled more than $352 million.

The PBC also continued to refine its administrative practices, accelerating payment to contractors and thus subcontractors, improving access to construction contract documents and sharing information on MBE/WBE certification.

The Public Building Commission unveiled a new Web site, www.pbcchicago.com. With a new look and realignment of key subject matter, the new Web site offers streamlined access to information for contractors, vendors and professional service providers interested in working with the PBC.

On Nov. 13, the Commission hosted its annual Contractors’ Open House. With hundreds in attendance, PBC officials shared information about the future construction opportunities, schedules, the bidding process, M/WBE certification and other matters of interest to the buildings and trades community.

The PBC manages construction and renovation projects for the City of Chicago and its other sister agencies. Mayor Richard M. Daley serves as the PBC’s chairman. Additional information about the PBC and its projects is available at the agency’s Web site: www.pbcchicago.com.