Midwestern University expanding Downers Grove campus

Midwestern University will add a new office and classroom building and an apartment building to its Downers Grove campus.

Downers Grove Village Council members voted unanimously this week to allow the two new structures at the 105-acre campus at 555 31st Street.

The four-floor office and classroom building would be located at the center of campus and is the future home the new College of Optometry. Midwestern President and CEO Kathleen H. Goeppinger said the school plans to enroll 50 students per year in the new four-year degree program. Students would be on campus for two of those years before moving on to do clinical work.

"As we have done extensive studies in the need for this profession in the Chicago area and the state of Illinois, we have determined that this profession would add to the total health care community that we serve," Goeppinger wrote in a letter to the village.

The two-story, four-unit apartment building is planned for the northeast corner of the grounds and would be used to house school executives visiting from Midwestern's facility in Glendale, Ariz. Goeppinger said that having housing available on campus would be more cost-effective over time than putting employees up in area hotels.

Acting Community Development Director Stan Popovich said Midwestern officials would need to return to the village later to seek building permits when they are ready to proceed with construction.

"I cannot think of any Midwestern University project that's come before us that we didn't like," Mayor Martin T. Tully said earlier this month. "It always enhances the campus, it enhances the area, it enhances the community. We're pleased to be a part of their success because it returns to us many-fold over."

The village also approved proposals to relocate a proposed chapel to make room for the executive lodging and to construct an addition to an existing office building. The university also is working with DuPage County to install a traffic light at the school's main entrance on 31st Street.

Midwestern became a planned development in the village in 2012. That designation sets zoning and construction parameters for a particular site, different from the rules that would normally exist in a specific area of town. Village officials determined the land use for a college campus varied enough from the surrounding area—mostly residential—that it should be in its own category and regulated according to different standards.

Some regulations specific to Midwestern are that buildings up to 35 feet high must sit at least 40 feet back from curbs, while structures between 35 and 100 feet in height must be at least 200 feet away from the curbs. The campus must also maintain permanent open spaces.



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