City seeks to loosen NU parking requirement

The reservoir parking lot. (Google Maps)

Evanston's Plan Commission tonight is scheduled to review a city staff proposal to reduce the number of parking spaces Northwestern University is required to provide on campus.

The proposal is prompted by the city's need to rebuild a water reservoir on land leased from the university at Lincoln Street and North Campus Drive that currently is topped with a university parking lot.

The city's plans for rebuilding the reservoir call for eliminating that parking lot.

Current rules require the school to have 4,096 parking spaces on the main campus and it has 4,111. Eliminating the 140 spaces from the reservoir lot would currently require approval of a zoning variation.

A memo to the commission from city staff notes that the university has recently constructed of two new parking structures on campus, and that a study two years ago indicated that the peak parking occupany level was just 73 percent, although the total number of spaces available then was slightly higher than it is now.

The proposed ordinance changes would reduce the required number of spaces from 4,096 to 3,493, which, the memo says, would bring it "more in line with demonstrated demand" and allow for future campus construction without the need for a variance for each project.