Agency doing rehab work on former Skokie police station




by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI

Work is under way retrofitting the first floor of the former Skokie Police Station, 8350 N. Laramie Ave., after Shore Community Services purchased the building and moved from its former location at the Shore Lloyd Center, 2525 Church St., Evanston.

The Skokie Village Board of Trustees approved the sale of the former police station in 2014 for $1,780,000. The first floor of the facility is being transformed into a facility that will offer adaptive daily living and prevocational skills to nearly 80 adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities who attend adult services programs at the Lloyd Center.

Shore director of development Mary Matz said that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District did not renew a long-term lease at the center property but granted a 5-year extension through February of last year. Shore was required to move in order to continue to provide its services.

Administrative staff has already moved into the second floor of the building, Matz said. Skokie moved its police operations to a new facility at 7300 N. Niles Center Road in 2010. The Police Department had used the old police station since 1957.

"We had a long-term lease with the reclamation district, but they changed their bylaws and they just would not renew the lease and we were forced to look for a new home," Matz said. "We were looking for a more permanent home, and a lot of our clients have moderate to severe disabilities and need a lot of care, so we decided to completely renovate the first floor here."

The group, which was founded in 1951, provides services to children and adults with disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy through educational, residential, vocational and other programs. Facilities in Skokie, Morton Grove and Evanston serve nearly 400 people each year.

The programs focus on daily living, mobility, cognition, communication, socialization, fine and gross motor development and pre-vocational training, Matz said.

"We’re finally winding down with the construction, and hopefully it will be completed by July so we can move the adult day programs there," Matz said. "The new building has a lot of potential. It’s was sort of bittersweet to leave our old location, and it has been challenging, but we’re winding down to get the adult program up and running."

Matz said that the first floor would have 10 group rooms for clients that can house about 100 people. She said that in the future a ramp with be built at the 30,000-square-foot building and that there are plans to convert the basement into some sort of a recreational place.

"The station has been vacant for some time, and when the opportunity came we decided to buy it," Matz said. "There’s still a gun range down there, but we even entertained the idea of building a bowling alley there."

Matz said that Shore has begun a $5 million fund-raising campaign cover the acquisition and remodeling costs. She said that Shore has raised about $1.9 million but would like to raise the full amount in order to have an endowment fund.

"We still get people who come in here who think it’s a police station," Matz said. "It’s a new home, and we are excited about the transformation that is taking place. We have new windows all around the building and the cells are gone, and we’re trying to make it not look like a police station any more."

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