The construction of new townhouses on Irving and Harrison is a “momentous occasion,” according to Residence Life associate dean Justin Heth. Heth, whose vision for student community has been an integral part in the new housing project, explained that “this has been the first time in forty years that the college has intentionally built housing facilities for our students.” Heth added, “It is exciting to plan and design space that we thought would be most conducive for growing community.”
Intentional community certainly appears to be the key element in the architecture of these five new arrivals. The townhouses will share a common patio. Each home has both an upstairs and a downstairs living space. The townhouses’ entrances will face each other and be connected by a common pathway. These architectural designs are just a few of the ingredients that make up ‘intentional community.’
“All of those pieces are intentional because physical space dictates relationships,” Heth said.
Director of construction services Randy Norbeck is also enthusiastic about the college’s new addition. Norbeck said, “I look at these houses and I think, ‘What a great opportunity for the students in these houses.’ It’s going to be a great place to live. It’s new, it’s modern, state of the art, life safety systems, fire alarms. And the way the houses are set up will really foster community from within. It is not just a scattered house here or there throughout the campus.”
Norbeck also reported frustration that the timelines for these houses have been repeatedly pushed back. Multiple factors exist behind the constant changes of schedule.
“It is a very aggressive schedule to start with,” Norbeck explained. “Many contractors turned us down because they could not meet the schedule. Capstone (Wheaton’s construction contractor on this project) agreed to try to meet the schedule, but we ran into trouble. The soil was bad for building roads to the houses. And the neighboring houses on Harrison expressed concerns about overloading the storm sewers, so we had to figure out a way to reconstruct the sewers behind the houses.”
The tenants recently received an email stating that that move-in day for the houses at 821 and 825 Irving Street will be Oct. 11. The three on Harrison will not be ready until Jan. 2015.
Juniors and seniors who will be occupying these homes are eager to move in. Junior Sean Gaughran said, “Delays have been kind of a bummer, but you can’t really foresee the problems that will come in the process. It’s a bummer that I still have to wait in Fischer, although I also love Fischer.”
While the wait may appear to be a nuisance, students are content that they do not have to wait another full year, as may have been the only viable option if Capstone didn’t step in. Students likePeyton Finley are thrilled to be living the dream sooner rather than later. Finley said, “I always drive by and say to myself, ‘Hey, what’s that sexy-looking house on the corner? It’s mine!’ I am kind of happy where I am, but at the same time, I am really excited to get into the townhomes. They are going to be new and fresh, and I am very excited to be one of the first people to live in them because they will be so tidy.”