Three Evanston residents have filed suit to block construction of Northwestern University’s new lakefront visitor center.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the suit, filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks to force the city to rescind its  approval of construction of the $32 million visitors center at 435-space parking garage on the south edge of the campus near the city’s Clark Street beach.

One of the plaintiffs, Matthew Mirapaul, told the Tribune, “We’re doing this for Evanston.”

The City Council approved the project on a 7-2 vote, overturning a unanimous recommendation against it from the city’s Preservation Commission.

Original story

Top: A rendering of the planned visitors center.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. My two cents

    Are Evanston residents still leasing land for this project to Northwestern for "$10,237 per year?" If so, we have a right to have a say in this matter, and I believe our voice was silenced (imagine that). I'm sick of people acting like Northwestern has the leverage here. What are they going to do, move? Lol. Looks like they should have filled in a lot more lake back in the day, before people gave a care about the environment.

    1. No lease

      The project as finally approved did not involve a lease of lakefront land by the city to the university.

      Read the details here.

    2. Two cents overpriced

      Native Nick, Your voice wasn't silenced, it was heard and was deemed to have no value other than the two cents you attribute to yourself, simple as that.

  2. Who speaks for Evanston?

    I'm sorry but how does Mr. Mirapaul have the right let alone the nerve to "do this for Evanston"? His arrogance is frankly amazing, he does not speak for me, furthermore I suspect he does not speak for the vast majority of Evanstonians.

  3. Maybe NU should—

    Maybe NU should take back the land they have turned over to the city.  Included would be the land originally given NU—-all the way to Asbury and Central.  How much would home owners and businesses in that area have to pay to rent back the land their houses and businesses are on ?

    There are many other sections of land NU gave back to the city.  If the Council wants to nickel and dime NU over small pieces of land, NU has alternatives.

  4. Hmmm…

    I don't necessarily like that solution, but I also don't believe in splitting hairs endlessly. If the aldermen want this, what else can you say? Additionally, I think it's absurd that people would oppose this purely because it doesn't look like the other buildings on campus. Architecture is a matter of taste, and not everyone will agree with what "looks good."

  5. NU parking garage
    If you’d like to see a drawing of what this completed building will look like on the lakefront, please go to this page:

    Note that the city’s preservation committee recommended unanimously against approving the project. In the Lakefront Master Plan, which residents and city employees labored over for 18 months, there was no call for more lakefront parking. Instead, the plan says, “The community expressed a clear preference for maintaining the present system of parking, which is evenly distributed throughout the lakefront, and this approach was implemented in the ?nal plan.”

    It further says the city should “Improve, but do not expand, parking facilities.”

    It continues, “The clear consensus among the community was a preference for
    the current approach, which distributes the parking rather evenly along the en-
    tire length of the lakefront. This approach has several advantages, including dis-
    tribution of parking demand and associated vehicular circulation and convenient
    parking access to nearly all parts of the lakefront.”

    The plan says there should be “access to alternative transportation: public transportation, bicycle parking
    and no additional vehicular parking.”

    All of this begs the question: Why have a plan if you’re not going to follow it? Why waste precious public and city employee time drawing up a plan that will not be honored? Why bother to have a plan for valued public parkland if development will only degrade it? Why have a preservation committee when you’re not willing to vote to preserve? In fact, why have any committee report to the council if you’re not willing to accept the committee’s advice, particularly when it is unanimous?

    We are losing 3/4 of an acre to the fire lane. The forested area, where the trees have already been taken down, was a half acre. Thank you to Matt Mirapaul, Ann Jennett and others who filed a lawsuit against the city to stop the construction of the 7-story parking garage on the lakefront.

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