University, city officials continue talks on Hinman expansion to help fulfill two-year live-in plan


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

The residential hall at 1835 Hinman may undergo changes to accommodate the two-year live-in requirement. Administration previously encountered setbacks when the building’s proposed height exceeded Evanston’s zoning variance codes.

Yvonne Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern is still searching for a way to accommodate its planned two-year live-in requirement slated to go into effect next year, after Evanston residents voiced concern about University plans to build taller than a city ordinance allows.

Administrators have been in conversation with Evanston about expanding the residential hall at 1835 Hinman Ave., after John D’Angelo, vice president of facilities management, said the dorm must be taller in order to have enough beds to make the plan viable. The proposed height of 85 feet would require a zoning variance, which must be approved by the city, as it exceeds 45 feet.

Mark Muenzer, Evanston’s director of community development, said the city is “waiting to hear back” from the University as to whether it will revise its application. He said city officials have encouraged administrators to lower the building height.

D’Angelo said some sort of variance — whether it be in height or setbacks — will have to be achieved no matter what.

“The (zoning) code is written in a very, very general sense,” D’Angelo said. “It does have provisions in it because it understands that there are a lot of projects that are going to require a variance.”

The live-in requirement will require all first- and second-year students to live on campus. University President Morton Schapiro said one goal of the plan seems to be creating “the kind of inclusive community we dream about.”

At a Northwestern University-City Committee meeting last month, a resident criticized the proposal, saying she feared the University encroaching too much on the surrounding neighborhood.

D’Angelo said the process of receiving community feedback beforehand has been an improvement compared to past projects that required the University present a finished design and “defend” it.

“We were able to receive a lot of community comment,” D’Angelo said. “In this case, we put some thought on what we wanted the design to achieve for Northwestern, and we took that to the community, not as a design but as a…dream list of what we want to achieve.”

Another concern raised at the September meeting was the danger of jaywalking across Sheridan Road.

Muenzer said the city will consider concerns about crosswalks and jaywalking during the review process.

“It’s ultimately the University’s decision how they move forward,” city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. “From the city’s perspective, we appreciate the openness of the University to share its ideas… After getting the feedback, they said, ‘Alright, let’s digest that,’ so I think they’re in that digesting mode.”

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