CHICAGO — The city of Chicago is moving forward with its $1 lot purchase program, declaring the pilot effort a success even before lot sales have been finalized.
Earlier this year, the city began accepting applications from homeowners, block clubs and nonprofit groups that wanted to purchase city-owned, vacant residential lots for $1 each in the Englewood-Woodlawn neighborhood. More than 400 applications were received for about 550 of the 3,500 lots included in the pilot effort, according to Andrew Mooney, commissioner of the city’s department of planning and development. The city continues to vet those applications and the city council is expected to consider the sale of those lots en masse this summer.
In the meantime, the city is hoping for a similar show of interest in East Garfield Park, where the city will begin taking applications for 500 city-owned residential lots on July 1 through July 30.
“We were frankly amazed at the immediate response,” Mooney said. “Within the first day we’d received roughly 100 applications.”
To qualify as a buyer, applicants must already own property on the same block, be current on their property taxes and have no outstanding amounts due to the city. Properties are sold “as-is” and applicants must start paying the property taxes associated with the parcel.
Most of the applicants in Englewood and Woodlawn were homeowners seeking to create side yards and community gardens, according to the city.
Moving beyond the pilot phase also means shifting the application process from a paper-based system to an electronic application available at largelots.org.
The large-lot program is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s five-year housing plan.
Altogether, the city owns about 15,000 vacant lots and most of them are zoned for residential use. Other neighborhoods with particularly high concentration of empty lots are North Lawndale and Austin.
Ideally, one neighborhood could be added every three months, Mooney said