City Council approves Beacon Academy move to larger space

Julia Jacobs, City Editor

Aldermen granted a private high school permission Monday to move its classrooms to a larger downtown Evanston location.

City Council voted unanimously to allow Beacon Academy, a Montessori-method school, to move from its current location at 622 Davis St. — just above Cheesie’s Pub & Grub — into an open space at Rotary International’s world headquarters. The new location, at 1560 Sherman Ave., is double the size of the previous space, which will allow Beacon to fit faster-than-expected growth.

Beacon’s current total enrollment is about 80 students, roughly two times the number of students the school opened with last fall. The school expects to outgrow the space by next school year, when it will likely reach full-capacity with about 200 students and 50 employees.

The Zoning Board of Appeals, which approved the expansion earlier this month, initially had concerns about ensuring available parking for the school’s growing population. However, approximately 80 percent of students at Beacon take public transportation to and from school. Employees will be ensured parking in either Sherman Plaza or Church Street garage, according to the board’s conditions for approval of the special use permit.

Beacon will either keep its Davis Street space for office use or sublease it to other occupants. Based on the school’s mission to encourage learning in other city locations, a quarter of students’ time is spent outside the school in places such as the Evanston Public Library.

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