RANTOUL — Design and planning work continues for a $38.1 million project that will result in construction of a new campus for the Lincoln's Challenge Academy.
Director Peter T. Thomas said several meetings have been held to get staff and advisory personnel's input of how the new campus should be configured.
"We're talking about ... location of buildings, what we will build first, the location of the classrooms, location of the gymnasium ... square footage, light fixtures (and) furniture for administrative offices," Thomas said.
The project is part of a $31 billion capital program that was stalled for three months by an appellate court ruling. It was finally approved by the state in April.
The site of the new campus has been transferred from the Air Force to the village of Rantoul and finally to the Department of Military Affairs.
Bids won't be let until the latter part of 2012, and construction is likely to start the following year.
Terry Anderson, chief of planning and programming for the Department of Military Affairs, said another design meeting was held recently. Ratio Architects Inc., Champaign, has been contracted to provide a master plan and scope of what work can be done with the money allocated. Anderson said the master plan is due by the end of December.
"Then we'll get into the actual design for the project," Anderson said.
"They're identifying, for example, how big of a kitchen, how many offices, how many beds, that type of thing," he said.
Anderson said the design "charrettes" — meetings that include a diverse group of people to find design solutions — bring everybody together.'
Said Anderson, "It's really saved time and money getting everybody involved up front, and it prevents (last-minute change orders)."
The existing buildings owned by the Department of Military Affairs will be replaced and demolished. Other buildings being used by Lincoln's Challenge are leased from private companies or the village of Rantoul such as the gymnasium and Grissom Hall, which houses classrooms.
Anderson said the academy's main building (Building 303) at 205 Dodge Avenue and the building directly north of it, which is vacant, will be demolished.
Thomas said the 205 Dodge Avenue property will likely be left vacant and be used for parade grounds.
The new buildings will be more energy-efficient than the current buildings, which were built before World War II.
Anderson said the $38.1 million figure will cover the entire cost of the project, including design, demolition and construction. The project is entirely state-funded.
The new campus will mark the first major construction project on the former Chanute Air Force Base since it closed in the early 1990s.
A military boot camp that works to turn around the lives of troubled youth, Lincoln's Challenge has graduated more than 12,300 cadets since its inception in the mid-1990s.