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The Evanston Design & Project Review (DAPR) committee unanimously gave its approval on May 17 for Beacon Academy, 1574 Sherman Ave., to lease space at 1026 Davis St. for extra classrooms and performance and exhibition venues.

The proposal next goes before the Land Use Commission on May 25, with the City Council making a final determination on the matter. 

According to its website, Beacon Academy “is an independent school serving grades 9-12 with a curriculum based in Montessori principles and culminating in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.”

Beacon plans on leasing the entire first floor space, about 4,253 square feet, at the Davis Street location. The space will be allocated between 953 square feet of storage space; two classrooms of approximately 1,400 square feet each; and a lobby area that will be about 1,024 square feet. The school already utilizes other spaces in the neighborhood, so students are used to walking offsite for various classes and  activities, officials said. 

DAPR committee members were concerned that the Davis Street location would increase traffic congestion with student drop-offs in the morning and pick-ups in the afternoon. But Renee Ruffing, Beacon’s assistant head of school and director of advancement, said that students will usually be dropped off at and picked up from the main school location. 

DAPR Chair Johanna Nyden also sought assurances that Beacon would not partition off or otherwise cover the street front windows at the Davis Street location. Ruffing emphasized that the space looking active and vital was important for Beacon Academy. 

“It helps us from a marketing perspective for people to see in and see the life of the school,” Ruffing said.   

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