Parking in Downtown Naperville is moving forward

Rendered image of North Central College's planned parking pavilion
Donate Today

Parking in downtown Naperville is moving forward with a recent unveiling by North Central College for plans of a parking pavilion at a neighborhood meeting, and a discussion for a parking deck at Nichols Library by the Naperville City Council.

NCC new parking pavilion

North Central College plans to construct a new parking pavilion on the south end of campus, on the site of the existing Merner surface lot also referred to as “the bowl” that sits directly across from the Field House. Plans for the new facility were shown at Tuesday night’s neighbor meeting at the Wentz Science Center.

“At a 102-year-old institution, we asked how you can improve the property, but be cognizant of the neighborhood,” said Jim Godo, vice president of communication and strategic initiatives at NCC.

NCC has four main goals for the introduction of a new parking pavilion, which will be located near most of the college’s residential halls.

  • Increase the College’s overall on-campus parking capacity
  • Improve parking safety and convenience for students, faculty, staff, and visitors
  • Increase on-campus parking capacity and efficiency for large campus events
  • Address on-street parking concerns within the neighborhood.

The four-level parking pavilion will contain 530 spaces. Level 1 (116 spaces) will be given to NCC commuter/faculty/staff/visitor parking. And levels 2-4 (414 spaces) will be used for resident student parking.

Plans for the new parking center were created after analysis by the traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Abonna, Inc. (KLOA). The firm found that off-street parking locations are 90% occupied at peak, which warrants additional campus parking capacity.

The new pavilion would minimize the number of vehicles that go across the Brainard St. midblock crosswalk south of Highland Ave. and reduce the utilization of on-street parking during events and typical days.

North Central says site preparation will begin in May/June of 2023. Most construction will occur from July to December, and the pavilion will be ready for use in Jan. 2024.

Nichols Library parking deck

During the Feb. 21 Naperville City Council meeting, Mayor Steve Chirico suggested reviving the idea of building a multilevel parking garage at Nichols Library. 

Rendered image of the Nichols Library parking deck.

Rendered image of the Nichols Library parking deck.

The Mayor advocated for the reinstatement of the parking task force and called for city staff to do parking and traffic analysis in the downtown area. Post-pandemic, Chirico says the city has a “window of opportunity” to create more downtown parking availability.

“The parking demand we had prior to the pandemic is back,” said Chirico. “Even if you know the good spots, it’s really hard to find parking down there right now.”

Chirico estimated the project would cost roughly $25 million, funded through the selling of surplus property and the $9 million in the city’s parking fund.

Councilman Paul Hinterlong was hesitant about the addition of a parking deck. He cited budgetary concerns, but also said he believes with a new deck, the city would be “over-parked.”

“Studies show that people will use their cars for less trips in the future,” said Hinterlong. “With Ubers gaining more popularity, I think it’s way too soon to make a commitment.”

Councilman Ian Holzhauer advocated for parking analysis from city staff but has concerns over interest rates if the city pays for part of a potential deck with bonds.

“(Nichols Library) is always the part of downtown where parking is the biggest struggle,” said Holzhauer. “It impacts business there, it impacts library patrons who have to circle a lot four times to get a spot.”

Executive Director of the Naperville Public Library Dave Della Terza is in favor of a new parking deck at Nichols Library, saying that the additional parking space is “definitely worth taking a look at.” 

“Our number one complaint from customers is that the parking at Nichols (Library) can be improved,” said Della Terza. “A lot of people who use the library are families with small kids and seniors that don’t really want to park blocks and blocks away.”

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!