Closing lot 1 begins new parking era at NAU

A cultural change is about to occur at NAU, and it may mean a few speed bumps along the way.

Parking lot 1 near Butler Avenue will close later in the summer, putting 409 parking spaces permanently out of commission. Plans are being finalized to immediately return about 300 spaces in various locations around north campus. The central campus parking garage, with 600 parking spots, is scheduled to open in October, but the loss of parking from August to October may pose some inconvenience.

Parking lot 1 is closing to make way for NAU’s hotel-conference center project, which will include a parking garage for visitors and guests only.

A bigger issue, however, may be that NAU in Flagstaff is undergoing a campuswide makeover that will necessitate a change in driving habits for all students, faculty and staff.

“This is certainly a change from what many of us are used to,” said Rich Bowen, associate vice president of Administration and Finance. “We won’t be able to park as close to some buildings as we could before.”

Questions about parking changes can be sent to They will be answered in future editions.

The changes are part of NAU’s campus master plan, which eventually will consolidate lots to reduce the surface parking area by 75 percent.

“We may have to find alternate ways to get around campus,” Bowen said. “But ultimately these changes are for the greater good of the university.”

The improved transportation system in the master plan calls for better traffic flow as well as parking garages that would eliminate some parking lots. Surface parking now takes up 65 acres of NAU’s campus—enough ground to cover the entire historic north end.

Structured parking—five four-story decks placed on north, central and south campus—could reduce surface area parking by 75 percent.

A new bus system is considered the lynchpin of the entire transit plan. By redesigning the existing pedway and configuring a dedicated bus route from north campus to south, travel time could be reduced to 12 minutes for the entire trip, including stops, using improved vehicles that run every 5 minutes.

Other transit suggestions include roundabouts to keep traffic flowing and programs to encourage the use of alternative transportation, such as car pools and bike programs.