Evanston aldermen Monday voted to let people park for free in Evanston’s downtown garages evenings and weekends through the holidays.

The plan is designed to stimulate traffic to businesses and restaurants downtown. EvMark, the downtown marketing organization, and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce have agreed to promote the offer.

Under the plan drivers will be able to park for free from 5 p.m. until midnight on weekdays and all day Saturday in the three city-owned garages from now through Jan. 3. Garage parking is already free on Sundays.

The city expects to lose about $21,000 in parking revenue as a result of the program, but hopes to make up at least part of the difference from increased sales tax receipts.

The promotion does not apply to on-street parking meters.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Not a fan of this idea
    I don’t think we’ll see a measurable increase resulting from free parking in downtown garages… we’re just giving this money away.

    The prices to park in the garages are quite low already… including free for the 1st hour. People don’t decide to shop downtown because all of a sudden there is free garage parking. They decide to shop downtown because there are interesting and/or unique stores that they want to shop at, it’s closer to home than other similar stores, and downtown has more character and a convenient mix of shops and restaurants than many other places.

    So what if you can go to Old Orchard and park for free… I don’t think many people would ever consistently characterize their Old Orchard parking experience as convenient and easy. When I go there, I go because there are specific stores that I want to shop at… and they are not all available in downtown Evanston.

    I do think this policy helps in the plain sense of advertising downtown and developing interest. I’m just not confidant that this will pay off financially.

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