Following the decision to deny Valparaiso University’s lawsuit against the city of Valparaiso’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), the conversion of the Uptown East Apartments would result in changing a road running parallel to campus. The University opted to dispute the city’s decision to alter LaPorte Ave.
The university initially filed the lawsuit against the BZA as a response to the three to two decision to grant Uptown East a parking variance. Porter Superior Court Judge Michael Fish denied the university’s lawsuit the same day it was filed.
A road running east to west on the north side of campus, so that it becomes a one-way street to create more parking for Uptown East residents. The street will be open to eastbound traffic only from Garfield Ave. to Roosevelt Rd. While there are currently only a limited number of people that reside in the apartments, Uptown plans to convert two of their buildings into low income, or workforce housing.
Amid the process of Valpo filing the lawsuit, their primary concern was the availability of parking for current and future residents of the apartments, as well as university residential and commuter students.
“I think right now we’re just seeing the beginning of the problem. You have to think about this, you have two buildings right now of Uptown East that are offline. Those buildings, once they get the workforce housing up and running which is what the whole zoning variance was about, will add another 120 multi-family units into it that will come online. If you think about that, each of those has one to two cars per unit, so you’re adding another 200 plus cars that are suddenly going to be in the area, not to mention anyone that could be visiting,” Darron C. Farha, Valpo’s Vice President and General Counsel.
LaPorte is being turned into a one-way street as a city response to the incoming influx of vehicles. The sides of the road will become parking dedicated to residents of the Uptown East Apartments. Valpo is apprehensive of the change due to potential traffic congestion in the area, and creating a safety hazard for those crossing the street.
The university claims the change will negatively impact several areas of campus. The College of Nursing and Health Professions, the Valparaiso University Police Department and those attending athletic events at the Athletic Recreation Center could experience commuting issues due to the buildings’ locations. All three buildings provide university parking near or off of LaPorte for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
Additionally, Valpo is apprehensive of the detours those in the Promenade Apartments and visitors of St. Teresa’s Cathoic Center will have to take. The university suspects individuals will travel through campus, causing an increase in traffic.
“That’s the main reason we filed the lawsuit was to try and stop it because we felt like we were going to be harmed from this endeavor and I think we’re just now starting to see that and I think it’s going to get worse,” Farha said.
Legally, Valpo has exhausted all options and is now dependent on the city to create a more ideal compromise.
“There’s nothing else we can do at all except ask the city to give us consultation and listen to that consultation on these endeavors,” Farha said. “Hopefully, we can work with the city to come up with something that can abate the potential harm we might have from all this, but all we can do right now is hope they will work with us on this.”
Valpo has asked the city to provide a notice of the implementation dates of their action plan in advance. Those with questions or concerns have been encouraged by Valpo to reach out to the city of Valparaiso.