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Constructed in 1982, the 180,000 sf vacant South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center is nearing transformation into the $51 million groundbreaking Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery (MCMHR).


SBLM began working on MCMHR in 2010.  The project originated with Corrections as the Client and operator.  Working with Corrections, visiting existing treatment centers and meeting with the existing government agencies providing services, SBLM developed a comprehensive program for the new project.


Initially, SBLM was hired to program and develop the new facility in an abandoned former forensic psychiatric facility floors 6 and 7.  We worked closely with Corrections to provide a program that accommodated their needs for high security and safety for officers and a therapeutic environment suitable for mentally ill patients.  24/7 security watch and suicide prevention were of paramount importance as well as updating the entire existing building systems to state of the art electronics, control and energy efficiency. 

In 2012 it was determined that the entire building needed to be included in the project and the  preferred project delivery method was a design-build model. SBLM’s role changed to providing a complete design-criteria package for the project.  A full design development package was developed by SBLM, of the entire 180,000 sf 7-story facility with four residential floors and over 200 beds.  Floors 1 and 2 were designated for intake, support areas, recreation and Crisis Unit.  The project went out to bid but before final selection it was determined that bringing in a 3rd party energy performance contractor could bring additional funding to the project.  The design-build package was altered and re-bid to include the energy performance contractor.  Project bid was eventually suspended.

In 2014 it was determined that the facility would still function as originally conceived but it would be divided with two residential floors administer by Corrections and two residential floors administered by the Eleventh Circuit Court.  SBLM was hired to develop this program and work with the two stake holders – Corrections and Courts, to develop a shared facility which ultimately created funding issues and the Courts took over the entire project in 2015.  SBLM now worked with the Courts (and Judge Leifman) to develop a refined concept for the entire building and property – the first of its kind.  

“The Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery will operate from this fully renovated facility designed to house services that are difficult to access or are unavailable elsewhere in the community to address the multiple needs of individuals who suffer from mental illnesses and drug addiction and who are involved in the criminal justice system.

We understand that negative consequences associated with custody can be mitigated by design choices. The building houses a receiving center, an integrated crisis stabilization unit and addiction receiving facility, various levels of residential treatment, day treatment and activity programs, outpatient behavioral health and primary care, dental and optometry services, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, classrooms and educational spaces, transitional housing and housing assistance, a courtroom, and space for legal and social service agencies.


"This population deserves the best treatment, not the worst treatment and we're really working hard to make sure that happens."
- Judge Leifman 



  • The Miami-Dade County jail is the largest psychiatric institution in the State of Florida.

  • In Miami-Dade County, approximately 11,000 people with serious mental illnesses are booked in to the county jail annually, mostly for low-level non-violent offenses.

  • 57% of the jail population is classified as having mental illnesses.

  • $636,000/day ($232 million/year) in taxpayer revenue to jail people with mental illnesses.

  • Over a 5-year period, just 97 individuals accounted for:

    • 2,200 arrests

    • 27,000 days in jail

    • 13,000 in crisis units

    • $14 million in taxpayer costs

TREATMENT WORKS: It’s time to start treating mental illnesses as illnesses and not crimes.

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