After 12 years, $118 million, officials cut ribbon on Chicago-area veterans’ home

(The Center Square) – A veterans’ home in the Chicago area that took 12 years, three governors and more than $100 million to build is now open, but not entirely.

The 187,000 square-foot facility in Oak Park cost $118 million. It’s been years in the making and previously had a scheduled opening date of spring 2020 but won’t be taking residents until February 2021.

“We need to start with the vision of the then-[Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs] Director, now Senator, Tammy Duckworth who back in 2008 saw the importance of having a home for veterans, one which would serve our states’ largest population center, and then launch this effort that we finish today,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

“And I want to acknowledge and thank, especially, our former Gov. Pat Quinn, who’s administration first gave life to this project,” Pritzker said.

After the project already cost $70 million, in 2018 then-Gov. Bruce Rauner said it was an example of a poorly executed government project, was a “complete mess,” a “nightmare,” and needed a redo.

“Boy, there have been many millions wasted on that facility,” Rauner said in July of 2018.

Another $21 million was budgeted for the project in the 2019’s state budget. This year, on Veterans’ Day, Pritzker cut the ribbon for a soft opening.

Duckworth was also on hand and said the project means families will be closer to their loved ones.

“Now our families in Chicago can see their veterans here much more easily, much more cheaply and much more frequently,” Duckworth said.

It didn’t open entirely. Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia said it was a soft opening.

“Feb. 1 we’re expected to have our first batch of veterans come in,” Chapa LaVia said. “We need to get licensure by the federal government and the state board so we’re going to start slow.”

The home will accommodate 200 retired Illinois veterans.

via The Center Square

November 11, 2020 at 07:50PM

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