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Thursday, December 08, 2016

What we’re reading this week — Dec. 8

On Friday evening we’re co-sponsoring the sneak preview event and fundraiser for David Schalliol’s upcoming documentary, “The Area”, about displacement in Englewood because of a railroad yard expansion. The party — there’s a DJ and drinks — starts at 5:30 PM at Lost Arts on Goose Island.

Themes this week: Vacant land and CTA

  • The CTA will spend $75 million to start engineering the Red Line extension south from 95th to 130th (South Side Weekly)
  • CTA sends letters to nearby homeowners saying they might want to buy their property for the extension (Chicago Reporter)
  • A hotel proposed in the Fulton Market area at the southwest corner of Lake/Halsted is now an office building proposal (Curbed)
  • Steppenwolf Theater is selling its landmarked building at the NE corner of Halsted/North, and a next door vacant lot that could become residential (Crain’s)
  • Vacant land of former Ickes homes — next to new Cermak Green Line station — to get ~870 units, less than a third will be CHA (WBEZ)
  • Block 37 shopping center on the market, again (Crain’s)
  • Two national brands going to move into large mixed-use building under construction across from Wrigley Field (BisNow)
  • Vacant land next to Kedzie Green Line station to become food business incubator “The Hatchery” (Austin Weekly News)

What we’re reading this week — Dec. 8 was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Yes, it’s correct that you must already own residential property on the same block or across the street from the target property.

I get what you’re saying about predatory gentrification (development from outside developers). Part of the impetus for the Large Lots program was to legalize and incentivize certain patterns that were already occurring, which are mentioned in my post: People have already been taking care of the properties they live near. In other words, giving neighbors more control over the lots’ destinies.

The city also needs a faster way to “flip” these properties from being city-owned and a drag on city resources (maintenance, police responses).

Large Lots emerged from the city’s Green Healthy Neighborhoods plan to stabilize a large area that has 40 percent fewer residents than its peak. From that website:

In 2010, the area’s population of 148,000 people was less than 40 percent of its all-time high in 1940. Simultaneous to the population loss, many of the region’s dense residential buildings and vibrant commercial structures were vacated and replaced with 11,000 vacant lots, equivalent to more than 800 acres of vacant land.

Read pages 16 and 17 in the Housing section of the plan. Some of the more specific goals mentioned are possibly increasing property values by increasing the size of the land. (I don’t buy this reasoning because doubling the size of a lot in an area with very low property values doesn’t make that lot more valuable. The potential to make it more valuable is greater, but that still requires a costly investment of actually building something there).

From the Green Healthy Neighborhoods plan document. That’s a ton of vacant land.

Large Lots doesn’t accommodate outside investment but the city has two other programs that do (see bottom of this page):

  1. Negotiated Sales Program: See a property you like, notify the city, they’ll put it out to bid. You might be the only bidder (although there may, of course, be a minimum bid).
  2. Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program (ANLAP): This is the predecessor program to Large Lots. You live “immediately adjacent” to a city-owned property and want to buy it? Apply to the city, they’ll get it appraised, and you’ll pay approximately 10% of that. This program is even more restrictive than Large Lots and should actually be canceled; it requires that you live even closer than Large Lots requires to the target property, is a much slower process, prohibits re-selling it for 10 years instead of 5, and applies only to three very specific zoning classes. Oh, and any property appraised at greater than $50,000 isn’t eligible.

Yes, it’s correct that you must already own residential property on the same block or across the… was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


A CycleBar franchise is planning to open in The Parker, a new high-rise in the Fulton Market area at 175 N Halsted St. CycleBar is one of many spinning class fitness chains and franchises. Crain’s featured the company in a summer 2015 article saying CycleBar was going to open 100 stores in Chicago and the suburbs. A call for construction bids was issued on Sunday, according to BidClerk via Crain’s; the permit hasn’t yet been issued.

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Chicago is proposing a senior housing building with 92 units spread over seven stories, on the properties between 246 and 262 W 22nd Pl. There are currently two small apartment buildings here, and the Chinese Community Center and building, which the association operates. The association needs a zoning change because the current class, RT-4, doesn’t allow that kind of density, nor a new community center.

The proposed “Teachers Village” development in the former Von Humboldt Elementary School in Humboldt Park (West Town community area) at 2620 W Hirsch St. has gone out to bid for about $30 million. There will be 84 apartments, and according to DNAinfo Chicago, “20 percent of the units would be reserved as affordable, 30 percent would be reserved as middle-income and 50 percent would be reserved as market rate.” The building is being developed by RBH Group from New Jersey, and IFF, the largest nonproft Community Development Financial Institution (CFDI) in the Midwest. IFF has an office in the CNA tower at 333 S Wabash Ave. The permit hasn’t been issued.

Rendering of Brainerd Park Apartments

Full Circle Communities is developing the Brainerd Park Apartments on vacant land at 8900 S Loomis St. in the Washington Heights community area across from the Brainerd Senior Center, Brainerd branch library, and Brainerd Metra Rock Island District line station. The affordable housing development with 36 units is being “developed in partnership with Christian Community Health Center, and will provide high-quality housing for families earning at or below 60% of Area Median Income”. There will be support services on-site. The project is out to bid for about $11 million. The permit hasn’t been issued.

Rendering of Overture Edgewater Beach at 5540 N Sheridan Rd. in Edgewater

A vacant lot in Edgewater along Sheridan Road is poised to become a high-rise for seniors 55 and up. The building, Overture Edgewater Beach at 5540 N Sheridan Rd. will have 172 or 178 units. There will be 264 car parking spaces. It’s the second project proposed on the lot; the last was in 2007. The project is out to bid for about $20 million, and the permit hasn’t been issued.

Rendering of the Bloom on Marquette single-family houses.

The Chicago Department of Planning & Development reported in its newsletter last week that the Community Development Commission “approved the sale of City-owned land at 1345–57 and 1363 E. Marquette Road to Bloom on Marquette LLC, which plans to construct eight single-family, four-bedroom homes. The lots will be sold for $1 each due to an estimated $220,000 in environmental clean-up costs to be incurred by the developer.” The houses are on vacant land next to a new office for the Sigma Omega Foundation, which is related to a fraternity of the same name. The Chicago Public Schools sold that building when it closed the Alexandre Dumas Child-Parent Center in 2010.

Curbed has more details on additional, dense housing projects, including two in the Fulton Market/West Loop area, one in Old Town, and one in Jefferson Park with too much parking,


CycleBar, new senior housing, Teachers Village, and more developments you haven’t heard of yet was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.