Building on a Campustown parking lot will actually make it easier to park

Building on a Campustown parking lot will actually make it easier to park

I've been getting a few questions or comments from readers who are worried about where they will park on campus if the city accepts one of the proposals from private developers to build some pretty massive buildings on Lot J (between Green and Healey streets and just west of Sixth Street -- the Legends/Chipotle parking lot, if you will).

Actually, the proposal that administrators are recommending the city council accept would make it easier to park on campus.

I use that parking lot all the time. When I was in school, I worked at The Daily Illini, just steps away from Lot J. Chipotle and Legends are two of my favorite campus restaurants. Its central location makes it an easy walk to anywhere I need to go on Green Street. Moral of the story: Between feeding the meters and paying parking tickets, I've probably spent hundreds of dollars at that lot.

But good luck trying to find a spot there on an Illini game day or a busy weekend.Blog Photo

City officials realized that when they started this project. The city owns the land, so in accepting proposals from private developers to purchase and develop the parking lot, officials required that the proposals include, at minimum, the same number of public parking that exists there now.

Without that requirement, it probably would not have happened. Under relatively new design rules, including room for parking on Green Street usually means the developer will need a parking structure or space underneath the building. Private parking is one thing, but offering parking to people who don't live in the building (in this case, people who probably are not even entering the building) generally does not provide a very good return on investment. In fact, some of the proposals include a request for city assistance to offset the high cost of public parking.

But it'll be there. Lot J has 131 public parking spaces now.

The JSM proposal, which is the one that administrators are recommending the city council accept, includes 221 public spaces and 218 spots for residents or hotel customers.

Another proposal promises to include 131 or more public parking spots. And a third developer said it will include 282 public spaces. This is all in addition to hundreds of private parking spaces the developers plan to build.

So rest assured that game day parking headaches could actually ease a bit, except maybe during the actual construction. City officials were in discussions with the University of Illinois to see if there's a chance to temporarily use university-owned lots for parking while the building is going up. They are also encouraging developers to submit temporary parking solutions with their proposals.

Image: The view of the proposed JSM Development building from Green Street. Sixth Street would run along the right side of the image, and Legends would abut the building on the left. The image is from JSM Development via city documents.

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