Chicago opens 2,000 vacant lots for purchase

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

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Two thousand vacant city lots are available for purchase and redevelopment by private buyers through a new land sale portal at Chicago.gov/BlockBuilder, part of a plan to replace all land sale programs with a universal application process.

The “ChiBlockBuilder” online portal includes an interactive map of available properties, pricing information, and a digital submission process that will foster infill development and open space projects within local neighborhoods.

ChiBlockBuilder information sessions ar Register at the links below.

“Our goal is simple: to put vacant land to productive use in a community-driven way,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “Vacant land presents an opportunity for our residents and businesses to create the change they want to see in their communities.”

Applications will be accepted through Feb. 3, 2023. DPD will host three online webinars for potential purchasers this winter to answer questions about the process. Priority consideration will be given to adjacent property owners and applicants proposing to build new housing or other improvements that benefit the neighborhood.

The land is for sale for specific uses:

  • side yards for adjacent neighbors
  • community open spaces such as gardens or plazas
  • housing developments
  • commercial developments

Each property has an established market value and environmental clearance for purchase by the public, eliminating time-consuming and expensive processes for environmental reviews and appraisals that buyers previously had to take on. Each lot will be transferred through a quitclaim deed.

Applicants that are owner/occupants of adjacent properties or community organizations creating open space are eligible to purchase lots at 10% of their market values. Applicants can also apply to develop spaces as affordable housing through the Chicago Department of Housing’s City Lots for Working Families (CL4WF) program.

“This is an opportunity to bring much-needed infill housing to neighborhoods,” said Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner Maurice Cox. “The new, centralized interface eliminates the confusion that we heard from a lot of would-be buyers about how to purchase City land, how much it costs, and what environmental work may be needed.”

The 2,000 lots are among approximately 10,000 owned by the City, most of which were acquired through foreclosures and demolition liens dating as far back as the 1950s. Almost 90% of the lots currently available for purchase are located in the 10 community areas participating in Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West revitalization strategy.

Additional lots will be made available throughout 2023. For more information, visit Chicago.gov/BlockBuilder.

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