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City: NU following rules on Seabury takeover

Some neighbors who’ve sought to block any expansion by Northwestern University west of Sheridan Road got no traction for that goal at Tuesday’s NU/City Committee meeting.

City Zoning Administrator Bill Dunkley said he’s documented the uses of all the buildings NU acquired from Seabury-Western Seminary last summer, and University Vice President Gene Sunshine said the school has no plans to use any of the buildings for other than the existing uses.

Some of the buildings on the block bounded by Haven Street, Sheridan Road, Garrett Place and Orrington Avenue have legal non-conforming uses as classrooms, a chapel, library and student union and as dormitories and multi-family dwellings. Other buildings are single- and two-family homes that are permitted uses.

The legal non-conforming concept, Dunkley explained, means that the uses predate the current zoning for the property, and under the zoning code they can be legally continued by a new owner.


Some neighbors who’ve sought to block any expansion by Northwestern University west of Sheridan Road got no traction for that goal at Tuesday’s NU/City Committee meeting.

City Zoning Administrator Bill Dunkley said he’s documented the uses of all the buildings NU acquired from Seabury-Western Seminary last summer, and University Vice President Gene Sunshine said the school has no plans to use any of the buildings for other than the existing uses.

Some of the buildings on the block bounded by Haven Street, Sheridan Road, Garrett Place and Orrington Avenue have legal non-conforming uses as classrooms, a chapel, library and student union and as dormitories and multi-family dwellings. Other buildings are single- and two-family homes that are permitted uses.

The legal non-conforming concept, Dunkley explained, means that the uses predate the current zoning for the property, and under the zoning code they can be legally continued by a new owner.

The use would have to lapse for more than a year to expire, Dunkley said, and owners are also permitted to suspend the use temporarily to conduct repairs and renovations to the building.

Sunshine said the classroom building has been consistently in use with a mix of NU and Seabury programs. Seabury has been renting some of the space from NU since it sold the buildings.

The dormitories, Sunshine said, were idle for several months, but are now in use.

He said the school is in the midst of renovating some of the homes and plans to lease them to faculty or staff starting within a few months.

At the meeting, which immediately followed a reception staged by city officials for the university’s new president, Morton Schapiro, at the Boocoo Cultural Center on Evanston’s west side, Sunshine also said the university hasn’t developed any plans for what to do with the property now occupied by Roycemore School four blocks north of the Seabury site.

NU owns that land and Roycemore’s lease runs until 2014. Roycemore is planning to move to the Methodist pension board building at 1200 Davis St. at some point between now and then.

“We don’t have any real intentions for the property yet, except to stay within the existing zoning,” Sunshine said.

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