Cook County Jail begins demolishing vacant dormitories to make way for recreational space

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Cook County officials began demolishing two buildings at the jail campus in Little Village.

Cook County Jail officials have started tearing down two former dormitories that were built more than 100 years ago and will be replaced by a recreational area.

Cook County’s Bureau of Asset Management began demolishing what’s known as Division 1 and 1A at the 2700 S. California Ave. complex on Monday, June 22.

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The deteriorating vacant dorms, built in the early 1900s, were “costly” and difficult to maintain, officials said during community meetings earlier this year. Officials also said the jail population has dropped from about 10,000 to 5,000 people, supporting a move to get rid of the old structures and create a recreational area for detainees.

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The buildings were remediated of asbestos and lead earlier this year, Jonas said.

County officials said they would not use explosives. They will use selective demolition, taking the building apart “piece by piece,” Cook County spokeswoman Audrey Jonas said.

Air quality monitors have been installed and data will be available to neighbors online, Jonas said.

“We are taking air quality monitoring very seriously,” Jonas said. “We are taking great measures to do this demolition responsibly … and as safe as possible for the area.”

Demolition is scheduled to be completed in spring 2022 and the recreational space will be finished next summer.

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