Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the City has taken a major step towards development of a new, state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Academy, by entering into a Letter of Intent to purchase the 30.4 acres of land located at 4301 W. Chicago Ave in West Garfield Park. The city’s purchase of the property is expected to be introduced to the City Council later this year. The new facility will offer specialized training for first responders, improve interagency collaboration in emergency response, and emphasize hands-on tactical training in real-world situations.
“Public safety officials need the best tools, technology and training to serve our city and its residents, and this facility will provide a place for them to prepare and practice for everyday encounters,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This is not only a significant investment in the West Garfield Park and Englewood neighborhoods, but its proof of our continuing commitment to expand city services to more communities.”
The city released renderings of the new facility for the first time, showing that the site will include indoor and outdoor training spaces that both extend the current training capabilities of the Police and Fire Departments as well as offer more joint-training opportunities. The site is planned to include new classrooms, active scenario simulations ranging from buildings to Chicago Transit Authority train cars, conference rooms, an auditorium and administrative offices, a practice range, a dive training pool and a driving course. The site will also include space for Fire Department trainings on extrications, high-rise operations, search-and-rescue and confined space rescue as well as underwater and diver training. Together, these features will ensure the new facility extends the capacity for first responders to receive specialized training, improve interagency collaboration in emergency response, and emphasize hands-on tactical training in real-world situations.
"Training is at the core of our ability to keep officers and residents safe, while providing professional service to build public trust," Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. "The new academy represents the investment we need to make in our first responders to prepare them for the many situations they will face throughout their career. I firmly believe that the additional scenario-based courses and resources that will be made possible by this new facility will make our city safer for everyone."
The move is the latest by the Emanuel administration to improve local neighborhoods through innovative public-private partnerships. In February, the Mayor announced the 2FM headquarters would move from West Town to Wentworth Avenue and 69th Street in Englewood, along with 200 jobs. The new facility will be funded in part by proceeds from the sale of the site on N. Throop. Additionally, a new branch library on the Near West Side and new fire station on the Near North Side are being planned through public-private partnerships with local developers.
“Now more than ever, it's important that police fire and EMS all train together because in so many cases we respond together on incidents that affect our communities,” said Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago. “This new facility will give us the ability to train in real time with very real scenarios that will better prepare us for natural and man-made emergencies.”
Construction of the new facility will utilize funds from the sale of city-owned land at 1685 N. Throop St.Following a competitive bidding process, the City has reached a tentative agreement to sell the 18-acre Department of Fleet and Facilities management to local developer Sterling Bay for $104.7 million, or $133.53 per square foot. The site was marketed on behalf of the City by Cushman & Wakefield. Closing is expected to occur later this year.
At least $20 million of the sale of 1685 N. Throop St. will go towards the Public Safety Training Academy, which will pay for the purchase of the land and get work started. The estimated cost for the proposed Public Safety Training Academy, including land acquisition, is $95 million. The City will work with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to select a developer to design, build and finance the project.
“I am thrilled that the 37th Ward was chosen by the Mayor as the site for this new training facility,” said Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward). “The public safety training academy in West Garfield Park will drive economic and community development, boost public safety and contribute to a safer ward and safer city for our families. There’s no doubt that the thousands of first responders trained at this state-of-the-art facility will save lives.”
The new academy will extend and modernize training capabilities and long-term will replace other public safety training facilities.