By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - Construction on Illinois Wesleyan University's new classroom building is giving school officials the opportunity to expand the quad.
IWU is in talks with the City of Bloomington to permanently close the section of Beecher Street between North East and Franklin streets.
Associate Provost Frank Boyd said the school hopes to dig up the road and put in a grassy area.
"By the time we actually finish with the building, that stretch of street will have been closed for over 18 months, so it's the perfect time to think seriously about claiming that part of the street and making it part of our campus," he said.
To allow for easy access to Magill Hall, an upperclass dorm along Beecher, Boyd said the school plans to put in a large sidewalk that could be temporarily used by cars at the start of each semester to load and unload student belongings.
Boyd said he's confident the city will allow the portion of the street to close.
Money for the Beecher project is not part of the budget for the classroom building, and Boyd said he didn't have a specific figure for how much the transformation would cost.
Classroom building on schedule
Meanwhile, the $16 million facility is still slated to open in time for the fall semester.
Most of the exterior work is completed and crews are moving inside.
"It's paint, it's window treatments, the floor," Boyd said. "There is some work that's underway on the information technology stuff, but we're really in a good spot."
The unnamed building will be home to the Business Administration and Economics departments. It will include 48,700 square feet of classrooms, study space, offices and computer labs.
It's being funded entirely by gifts to the university.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.