The Wheaton City Council agreed Monday to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance that would allow Wheaton College to put an addition on the Wade Center.
College officials say the building -- located at 351 E. Lincoln Ave. on the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Washington Street -- is no longer large enough to accommodate the increased number of people who attend events at the center. It currently houses a 48-seat classroom space.
The 1,900 square foot, one-story addition will be constructed just north of the existing Wade Center, on the footprint of an existing five-car parking lot with an entrance off Washington Street. A large meeting room, a new east entrance, a lobby and support space will be included in the addition.
For the short term, the student houses just north of the center at 614 and 620 N. Washington will remain the same. However, the college hopes to relocate the southern house slightly north of its current location and create a new parking lot that will have an entrance off Jefferson Avenue.
City councilman John Prendiville lives just a block away from the college. He was the only member of the city council to express concerns with parts of the proposal.
"It's a very nice project," he said. "The only concern I have with this project is the driveway going out onto Jefferson ... My opinion is the aesthetics, for the residents on Washington, are diminished by that."
City staff members did note in a memorandum that they also had concerns with the potential impact the new parking lot and driveway would have to adjacent residential properties.
The college's response was to reduce the number of proposed parking spaces in the new lot from eight to five. It would be used strictly for staff members, deliveries and service vehicles and students living in the houses will be required to park across the street at Edman Chapel.
"I don't believe there's enough room for a driveway and a new student house on Washington, and we're also quite concerned with the vehicle safety of the driveway exiting onto Washington right at the curb. The sightlines are not favorable," said Wheaton College Architect Bruce Koenigsberg in response to Prendiville's request to move the drive to Washington Street.