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Use new Cityscape tools to grow your ADU business

Published on Jan. 19, 2021 by Steven Vance

Updated on Jan. 20, 2021

Better days are comin’ (video from the Biden-Harris inauguration concert last night, Ant Clemons & Justin Timberlake)

You know that Chicago Cityscape is a big proponent of 🏘 accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and a clearinghouse for information. We’re excited that City Council re-legalized interior ADUs and backyard houses (which the ordinance officially calls “conversion units” and “coach houses”, respectively) last month. And by the way, there are one hundred days until ADU permit applications are accepted.

We’ve sprinkled two new ADU features across the website, and updated our ADU Service Provider directory with a new class of consultants.

1. Address lookup

Everyone can look up at least one Chicago address per day and get a yes/no determination on if an ADU is allowed at the address.

A screenshot showing how Chicago Cityscape indicates if a property is eligible to have an ADU.

People with Cityscape memberships (any level) are able to look up more than one address per day. For non-members, Address Snapshots are also available à la carte with one-time purchases, which unlocks a ton of data about that property.

2. Find 1,000s of eligible properties

We have upgraded our Place-based Property Finder maps to have ADU filters to find the thousands of eligible properties in any of the five pilot areas. Start with a Place you’re familiar with, like a community area, neighborhood, or ZIP code and the filter will find just the properties that are also in the pilot area and an eligible zoning district.

Here are a couple of ways I imagine the Place-based Property Finder maps can be used:

  1. Download a list of the eligible properties and send everyone a postcard advising them that their property is eligible and to contact you for a consultation.
  2. Use the list to compare to your client list to send a postcard to just your clients advising them that their property is eligible.

Place-based Property Finder maps are available to Cityscape Pro members and those who purchase a Place. For example, one could purchase the West pilot area Place right here.

The boundaries of the 24th Ward are shown in blue, and properties that are eligible to add an interior ADU. The stark and invisible line along Homan Avenue is where the West ADU pilot area lies.

In the 24th Ward, there are approximately 5,148 properties that are eligible to add an interior ADU, which is about 43 percent of the properties in the ward, and more than we can show at one time! (That number doesn’t include properties that are owned by non-profits, including faith-based organizations and affordable housing operators.)

3. Aging in place

“Aging in place” means “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level” (Centers for Disease Control via AARP). A couple important factors to remain in one’s home are being able to adapt the home to changing personal needs as one ages, and generating income to pay for ongoing maintenance, and an increase in property taxes.

We’ve highlighted two examples of aging in place: Carmin wants to build a backyard house for her family in Roscoe Village to have more space, as her parents moved in right before the pandemic started; Sharon owns a single-unit house and wants to build a backyard house for herself to live in during retirement while renting out the front house.

ADUs, and especially ground-level backyard houses, can address those factors, and there are now consultants to help families integrate ADUs with their current and future needs. So, anew addition to the ADU Service Provider list are two “Certified Aging in Place Specialists”.

Felice Eckhouse is one of those specialists. I met Felice at a City Open Workshop event during the time we spent eight months educating each other about ADU policies.

Felice says, “I have evaluated countless clients who wish to age in place in their homes and community. We see how this pandemic emphasizes the need for healthy homes, for safe multigenerational spaces to function across our lifespan. I am this experienced therapist who looks forward to collaborating and partnering with you as a team on these various ADU projects. My value will be felt using my extensive training in accessible, visitable, universally designed, and affordable spaces.”

There is no charge to be listed in ADU Service Providers. Please contact us and explain your relevant experience.


Use new Cityscape tools to grow your ADU business was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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