Northwestern Zoning Change for Commercial Use Would Hurt Neighborhoods & Businesses

Northwestern University has requested a major zoning change to allow for commercial uses in the U2 district. (42-acre sports Complex on Central) which would break down zoning protections for all surrounding neighborhoods and negatively impact the economics of many Central St. Businesses. 

For the past 50 years every council of the City of Evanston has denied Northwestern many attempts to  for commercial/professional uses in the district because of the huge negative impact it will have on residents, property values and businesses, additionally  the change does not meet the zoning change standards or the Evanston comprehensive plan. 

NU will make 10s of millions on sponsorships, media coverage while the city makes a few $100,000 and surrounding neighborhoods, residents and businesses bear the burden of chaos, noise, garbage, traffic and economic loss.  Last year NU made $91,000,000 on their sports event in the U2 district-$54,000,000 on football alone and the city received less than 1.5 million for all of the 60+ events. The reason they want the money is to monetize the facilities in the U2 district and to help defer costs associated with the over .5 billion dollars they spent on sports facilities on the lakefront, Welsh Arena, Rocky Miller Park and others. This would be the equivalent of any resident in town spending much more than their budget allows for on a house / building improvement and then going to the city and asking for permission for commercial use (in a non commercial area? so that the property owner (who overspent) could have more money to pay for the improvements to their property and their neighbors don't matter.  It would never pass-So don't let NU have preferential zoning treatment.

As a point of clarification, Northwestern can hold many concerts as long as those events  are sponsored by the university. Northwestern doesn’t   hold them because NU doesn't see the profit in them. There were  student sponsored  concerts which many  remember attending, like Dy;an, and other.s which were  permitted uses. There is not an abjection to the current permitted uses the objection is:  making commercial uses permitted or special uses.

 With the change of a few words in what is being called a "text amendment," Northwestern University wants the City of Evanston to make Professional Sports and Commercial Entertainment uses to be permitted uses by removing from the zoning code the words "amateur sports" and "non-profit " as well as removing  the words requiring “ adequate parking”  with free parking - which makes it so that parking requirements a negated and encourage more people to drive in hope of getting free parking. NU has less than 1400 parking spaces in the U2 district. At the beginning of this discussion in April we were told they had over 2000 spaces. 

Remember that Northwestern’s purpose is educational they pay no property taxes on their 240+ acres of land, they pay 4% tax on entertainment tickets while and 11% ticket tax on sports events. Because all other Evanston similar venues pay property taxes and do their events in districts that allow it , a change like this puts other Evanston businesses a a financial disadvantage. This is  hardly a level playing field for our businesses.

Watch the plan commission meeting video  www. to hear your neighbors presentations your neighbors comments at the Plan Commission to understand the issues and our objections and visit to post your comments.

Sign the Petition to Stop Zoning Change for NU Preferential Treatment. Petition to Stop Northwestern Zoning -NO to  Pro  

Come to Council on Oct 14th

email for a sign or to help


Special Community Meeting June 25 - Proposed Zoning Change for Welsh-Ryan Arena

From the latest 7th Ward Newsletter

Northwestern University representatives are hosting a community meeting to discuss the University’s proposal to amend the City’s zoning code to expand the types of uses allowed at Welsh-Ryan Arena to include additional events. Dave Davis (NU Neighborhood & Community Relations) and Mike Polisky (NU Athletics) are looking forward to talking with residents about NU’s proposal and ways in which to address community concerns.

The meeting will be held on Tues., June 25,  6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.., in the Welsh-Ryan Arena, 2705 Ashland Ave, Wilson Club.

NOTE: This community meeting replaces the previously announced 7th Ward meeting originally scheduled for June 27.

2019 Northwestern Applies for Commercial-Professional Uses-Zoning Change at Stadium/Arena

Evanston is more than Northwestern University: Tell the Mayor and City Council not to sacrifice our neighborhoods!

The university has been quietly trying to obtain changes in zoning law that would allow for-profit concerts, professional sporting events, and other commercial activities at its facilities. These events would dramatically alter the quality of life and negatively impact community safety and infrastructure in Evanston and Wilmette.

For decades, Evanston zoning code for the U2 District permits Northwestern University to hold Community and cultural events of a NONPROFIT nature and AMATEUR athletics events at the Welsh-Ryan -Rocky Miller sport complex. It is critical to recognize the unique position of these facilities within a residential neighborhood and that Northwestern University is a non-profit institution dedicated to education.


Are Evanston Residential Property Taxes Going Down? Crain's says "likely"

From a recent Crain's Chicago Business article:

"If there is a silver lining, at least in the near term, it's that higher assessments on commercial properties in Cook County are likely to result in lower taxes for many homeowners. In Evanston, for instance, the assessed value of all residential property rose 25 percent from 2018 to 2019, while the assessed value of all commercial and industrial property rose 125 percent. The wide gap suggests that taxes will rise for commercial and industrial landlords in the suburb when property tax bills come out next year but drop for Evanston homeowners"

Read the full story here:

Crain's Chicago Business 4/12/2019: What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math

New Tax on Central Street?

If you own property or a business on Central Street between roughly Ashland and Marcy ... or on Green Bay north of Lincoln ... you may want to attend one of these two meetings.  The first meeting is this Tuesday night April 30 at 7:00 p.m.(details below).

A proposal to create a Special Service Area (SSA) on Central Street will be discussed. Per the proposed map above the area under consideration includes many residences on Central outside the east and west business zones. It appears that any new taxes proposed to support the proposed SSA will apply to all properties within the SSA ... including businesses and residences.


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