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 Dylan, and others which were  permitted uses. There is not an objection 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 9/25 Plan Commission meeting Video:  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