While the Robert Crown Center has a large parking lot, sometimes it’s apparently not big enough.

Responding to constituent concerns, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) has requested a study, about Crown events leading to parking on nearby neighborhood streets.

While the Crown building is in the 4th Ward, 9th Ward residential blocks are right across the street.

Geracaris tells Evanston Now that while neighbors receive alerts for city sponsored activities, there is no community notice for large, privately organized events that rent space at Crown, such as figure skating or hockey tournaments.

Those events-on-ice attract lots of out-of-town participants, parents and fans.

People who live near Crown, Geracaris says, are often “surprised by what’s going on,” when they discover cars “spilling into the neighborhoods” and parked in front of their houses.

The alder says “we need to figure out better ways to have large events without impacting the surrounding streets.”

One way might be to have shuttle buses running from downtown hotels, he says, where out of towers stay for events, instead of having a parade of cars descend on Crown.

At a minimum, Geracaris says, nearby residents should be notified of such major activities.

That is apparently coming. Ald. Jonathan Niuewsma (4th) tells Evanston Now that the Parks Department is “putting together an opt-in mail list for Crown neighbors so they can at least be informed when special events are happening.”

Beyond such notices, Geracaris also says the city needs to find out if people are parking at Crown overnight, and how many non-Evanstonians are using the lot, even if it’s just for big events.

Residency can be dertermined by using license plate readers to see if the vehicles have paid Evanston license fees.

It’s too soon to say whether this could lead to a non-resident parking fee, similar to what’s in effect at city beaches.

“I’m trying not to make an assumption,” Geraceris says.

“We need to wait for the data.” There’s no timetable at this point for completion of the study.

The Crown Center will likely be shifted soon from the 4th Ward to the 2nd, as part of upcoming redistricting.

Of course, while the ward map may change, the building itself is not moving, and so 9th Ward residents will still be right across Main Street.

While parking spillover is not a huge community issue, “5 on a scale of 1-10,” Geracaris says, “it’s still an annoyance,” and “something we can do better at.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. I support the shuttle idea. I live right across the street and there are many cars parked all over the neighborhood when there are big events at Crown.

  2. I’m a little confused with the comment about vehicles being parked at Crown overnight. Is there a reason a vehicle would be parked there overnight?

  3. Sounds like they did not do realistic parking feasibility studies when planning this massively over-budgeted and bloated project.
    Not surprised at all that the neighborhood just south of Main Street is getting clogged now, and Main Street jams up all the time. How is it that none of the planners have predicted & addressed this ahead of time? And while you’re at it, how about adding left turn signals for west- and east-driving cars at the Main & Ridge intersection?
    One extremely low-budget item they could have done was to add a “drop off” bin for books & audio for the library so people could drive up, return items in the bin, and keep driving away. (There is one in front of the Orrington library.) That would free up parking spots and save time for people. I have mentioned this to people working at the library, but no one seems to know anything about it.
    It seems to me that big ideas get easily funded in Evanston but unfortunately not enough realistic planning goes into developing these massive projects.

  4. Bigger events, like the hockey tournament and NU soccer, both this past weekend, could use a traffic director. Long lines to get out of the lot and poor visibility for motorists turning left onto Main. I think the planners may have underestimated the popularity of the fields.

    Rosa, and neighbors, there is a book drop off in the lot. You’ll turn left halfway through the parking lot. It’s on the driver’s side on the median.

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