Chicago Cityscape Blog https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog The official blog of Chicago Cityscape en-US 60 <![CDATA[Six ADU permits have been issued since May 2021]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/six-adu-permits-have-been-issued-since-may-2021-2ca2eeb3e4 It’s more than zero but six is not as many accessory dwelling unit building permits I wished to have been issued at this time. I’ll discuss the six issued permits and analyze the hundreds of pre-applications. I first reviewed the pre-applications back in May, just 10 days after ADUs were re-legalized.

A pre-application is the intake form that property owners who intend to build an interior apartment or backyard house — this year or anytime in the future — must fill out before...

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It’s more than zero but six is not as many accessory dwelling unit building permits I wished to have been issued at this time. I’ll discuss the six issued permits and analyze the hundreds of pre-applications. I first reviewed the pre-applications back in May, just 10 days after ADUs were re-legalized.

A pre-application is the intake form that property owners who intend to build an interior apartment or backyard house — this year or anytime in the future — must fill out before they can apply for a building permit, to give the Chicago Department of Housing a chance to verify that the location is eligible, and to reiterate affordable housing rules, if applicable. By May 11, 110 property owners had submitted pre-applications, proposing 123 interior ADUs and backyard houses.

The permits

Again, just six building permits for new ADUs have been issued. Five of the properties are getting one ADU and the sixth is getting four ADUs, growing from 12 to 16 apartments. One of the six is getting a backyard house.

Left: 1300 W Hood Ave is a 12-unit building to which a 1300 W Hood Ave to add four interior ADUs, two of which must be rented at an affordable rate (Google Street View image). Right: Map of the six ADU building permits issued as of October 15, 2021.

Explore the building permits on ChicagoCityscape.com (a free Cityscape account is required to view building permit information):

  1. 2833 N Whipple St: Add basement unit to 5-flat
  2. 1101 W Cornelia Ave: Add basement unit to 3-flat
  3. 2131 W Haddon Ave: Add coach house behind single-detached (first coach house permit)
  4. 1332 N Wicker Park Ave: From five to six units
  5. 1344 W Hood Ave: Add basement unit to 19-unit building
  6. 1300 W Hood Ave: Add four units to 12-unit building

The stats

Now, as of October 8, 2021, there have been 329 pre-applications. Many of them are duplicates and some have not yet been processed, so I’m going to focus on the 158 approved pre-applications.

These 158 pre-applications represent 453 existing dwelling units, and these property owners are proposing to build 169 ADUs.

Eight of the 158 properties would have two or more ADUs, totalling 19 ADUs. Because of the ordinance rule that requires a property owner constructing two or more ADUs in a single project to rent half of them at an affordable rate, nine of the 19 will have to comply (one project proposes three ADUs, and only one has to be affordable).

Of the 169 ADUs, 113 would be interior ADUs (67 percent) and 56 would be backyard houses (33 percent).

In the pre-application form, property owners must indicate how old their house is, since interior ADUs are only allowed in houses that are at least 20 years old. Using this self-reported data, 35 of the 158 properties are 19th century houses. Twenty-eight of these would have interior ADUs and seven would have backyard houses.

The vast majority of the applications for ADUs are for properties in zoning districts that, except for being in an ADU pilot area, ban denser and more affordable housing and allow only single-detached houses (107 out of 158). While this makes sense given that the majority of the area of the ADU pilot areas are zoned to ban apartments and condos, I think it is also an indication that people appreciate the ability to have additional units on those blocks that are zoned in such a way that, outside of the ADU pilot areas, multi-family housing is banned.

Want to talk to someone about the feasibility of building an additional apartment in your property? Find an architect in our Directory.

The geography

The 28th Ward is shown in gray, and the Northwest ADU pilot area in light blue.

The five ADU pilot areas overlap with 21 of Chicago’s 50 wards, and all are represented in the pre-applications, but at varying levels. The pilot area boundaries were drawn with input from alders.

Some alders — like 11th Ward Patrick Thompson — asked for no overlap; others, including 35th Ward Alder Ramirez-Rosa wanted the entire ward to be eligible (only 79 percent of the 35th Ward is in an ADU pilot area). There are 13 pre-applications in the 35th Ward, representing eight interior ADUs and five backyard houses.

The 28th Ward (Alder Jason Ervin) has only one percent overlap with an ADU pilot area and similarly has only one application. At the other end of the spectrum, the 47th Ward has 23 applications proposing 23 new ADUs; the 1st Ward has 21 applications proposing 21 ADUs; and the 40th Ward has 17 applications with 17 ADUs.

The 47th Ward has the highest proportion of applications for backyard houses, at 78 percent. In the 1st Ward, which has the second most applications, only 24 percent are for backyard houses. See the full chart:

The chart lists the number of proposed ADUs, as of October 8, 2021, in each of the 21 wards that overlap with an ADU pilot area. The chart is ordered by the total number of proposed ADUs; the ward with the most proposed ADUs is at the top.

Six ADU permits have been issued since May 2021 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/six-adu-permits-have-been-issued-since-may-2021-2ca2eeb3e4 Mon, 18 Oct 2021 23:02:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[Where the new state-enacted property tax incentive applies]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/where-the-new-state-enacted-property-tax-incentive-applies-b766a4746f The Illinois government adopted a new incentive this summer intended to generate and maintain affordable housing across the state by offering significant reductions in a property’s assessed value. The legislation was co-developed and pushed by Preservation Compact, an coalition-like initiative housed at the Community Investment Corporation, a non-profit lender.

CIC will be presenting a webinar about this on 9/23/21 — see details below.

The incentive of HB 2621 is to attain a reduction...

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The Illinois government adopted a new incentive this summer intended to generate and maintain affordable housing across the state by offering significant reductions in a property’s assessed value. The legislation was co-developed and pushed by Preservation Compact, an coalition-like initiative housed at the Community Investment Corporation, a non-profit lender.

CIC will be presenting a webinar about this on 9/23/21 — see details below.

The incentive of HB 2621 is to attain a reduction in assessed value — something many property owners do every year when they “appeal their taxes” — as that can lead to significant reductions in property taxes.

An apartment building in North Lawndale undergoes some renovation. Qualifying renovations of an existing building + renting a minimum number of units affordably or to certain households could mean significant reduction in its assessed value. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Preservation Compact describes the legislation as having three incentive tiers: Tiers 1 and 2 will work across Illinois and offer different reductions in a property’s assessed value based on the number of units that are made affordable, and, if it’s an existing building, how much is invested in upgrading major “building systems”.

Tier 3 will apply only in downtown Chicago and certain Cook County suburbs — places with the least amount of affordable housing as a proportion of all housing — and has the greatest reduction in assessed value. Tier 3 also requires the greatest investment in systems upgrades for existing buildings. (The legislation allows county boards outside of Cook County to opt out.)’

A screenshot of Chicago Cityscape’s Incentives Checker showing that this location in Chicago’s River West neighborhood is eligible for the HB 2621 property tax incentive.
A screenshot of Chicago Cityscape’s Incentives Checker showing that this location in Chicago’s River West neighborhood is eligible for the HB 2621 property tax incentive.

All three incentive tiers apply to buildings with seven or more units, and the program starts in 2022. Preservation Compact has a simple chart outlining the different affordability thresholds that correspond to different reductions in assessed value.

For our part, Chicago Cityscape has updated Incentives Checker to point out when an Address Snapshot one has looked up is within downtown Chicago (defined by the current “D” zoning districts and the areas in the Downtown Expansion Area), or in one of the eligible Cook County suburbs.

Affordability requirements

The general requirement is that to count as affordable units, they must be rented at a rate affordable to a household earning 60 percent of the area median income (which is currently $50,340 for a family of three).

Alternatively, a unit rented to a household which has a Housing Choice Voucher or a household participating in a state or local rental subsidy program (like Chicago’s Low Income Housing Trust Fund) would count as an affordable unit. Those two programs do not require a decrease in the rent; they’re designed to pay market rate for qualifying apartments.

Upcoming event

Need to know more? The Illinois Housing Council has arranged for Preservation Compact and Community Investment Corporation to present a webinar on Thursday, September 23, 2021. The presentation will cover:

  • How the new relief is different from Cook County’s Class 9 program
  • How projects completed since 2015 can retroactively qualify
  • The new 80/20 incentive program available in downtown Chicago and low affordability communities
  • Sharing recommendations with Assessor Kaegi on implementation
  • Getting insight on the program from a diverse set property owners

Where the new state-enacted property tax incentive applies 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/where-the-new-state-enacted-property-tax-incentive-applies-b766a4746f Tue, 21 Sep 2021 22:37:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[Cityscape has the maps you need to locate where new ARO rules apply]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/cityscape-has-the-maps-you-need-to-locate-where-new-aro-rules-apply-c5376e9523 City Council adopted a new version of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) earlier this year, establishing “ARO 2021”. The rules goes into effect for most residential projects that are granted a zoning change on or after October 1, 2021. The basic trigger for requiring ARO compliance hasn’t changed: a residential development that builds or substantially rehabs 10 or more dwelling units, uses TIF money, or is built on city-owned property.

After the trigger, however, the ARO 2021...

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City Council adopted a new version of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) earlier this year, establishing “ARO 2021”. The rules goes into effect for most residential projects that are granted a zoning change on or after October 1, 2021. The basic trigger for requiring ARO compliance hasn’t changed: a residential development that builds or substantially rehabs 10 or more dwelling units, uses TIF money, or is built on city-owned property.

After the trigger, however, the ARO 2021 rules are drastically different than the ARO 2015 rules. First of all, the Near North/Near West and Milwaukee Corridor pilot areas, established in 2017, and their unique rules are eliminated for new developments.

Secondly, whereas ARO 2015 had three area types, ARO 2021 divides Chicago into five types of areas:

  • Downtown. These are the existing downtown “D” zoning districts, plus properties in the Downtown Expansion Area that are rezoned to “D”.
  • Inclusionary Areas
  • Community Preservation Areas
  • Low-Moderate Income Areas
  • Pilsen and Little Village pilot areas. These boundaries are the same as when they were established in 2018, and will sunset at the end of 2023, and then the underlying areas will revert to a Low-Moderate Area in the South Lawndale community area covering Little Village and a Community Preservation Area in the Lower West Side community area covering Pilsen.

The maps

Our map shows the five ARO 2021 area types. Right-click anywhere on the map to get an Address Snapshot for that location (on mobile devices, tap and hold).

Our maps are vital to anyone who wants to develop new or substantially rehab existing housing in Chicago. The area type for a development area must be determined first in order to locate the associated rules.

Let’s get back to the rules

Thirdly, the basic provision in ARO 2015 that 10 percent (or more in some areas) of the dwelling units must be affordable has been replaced in ARO 2021 with requirements that are based on the area type. The 10 percent floor for rental developments is present only in Low-Moderate Income Areas.

The ARO 2021 rules have new flexibility with the minimum affordable units requirement: Not all units have to be rented at the same area median income (AMI) targets. Most developments that use the ARO 2015 rules must set the rents for the affordable units to target a household earning up to 60 percent of the AMI, but ARO 2021 rules allow a weighted average. This means that some units can be rented to households earning up to 40 percent of the AMI and other units can be rented to households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI as long as the average is 60 percent of the AMI.

Fourthly, more units have to be built. ARO 2015 required that 25 percent of the required affordable rental units had to be built on-site in low-moderate income areas and 25 percent built on-site or off-site in higher income and downtown areas. ARO 2021 on the other hand, requires 25 percent of the affordable rental units to be built on-site, and another 25 percent to be built on-site or off-site. The remaining balance can be covered by building units (on-site or off-site) or paying an in lieu fee; the in lieu fee can suffice for up to 50 percent of the required affordable rental units.

The rules for off-site units are quite different, too. ARO 2015 required off-site units, which wasn’t an option in low-moderate income areas, to be in a higher income area or downtown district, and within two miles of the development site. With ARO 2021, off-site units can be located within any Downtown, Inclusionary, or Community Preservation area. However, if the primary development site is in a Community Preservation area, the off-site units must be located within one-mile (but the off-site doesn’t have to be a CP area).

Additionally, if the primary development site is within a TOD or transit-served location (TSL), then the off-site units also have to be within a TOD. Every Address Snapshot lookup on Chicago Cityscape will determine TOD eligibility. (Note that the ordinance specifies that the off-site units are located in a “substantially comparable” transit-served location, which I take to mean that if primary site is near a CTA station then the planning department may not accept off-site units near a Metra station that isn’t on the Metra Electric line.)

In the Municipal Code of Chicago, find the rules at 2–44–085 (although the code hasn’t been updated as of publication).


Cityscape has the maps you need to locate where new ARO rules apply 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/cityscape-has-the-maps-you-need-to-locate-where-new-aro-rules-apply-c5376e9523 Sat, 11 Sep 2021 15:18:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[What does the 2020 Census data tell us about Chicago and Chicagoans?]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/what-does-the-2020-census-data-tell-us-about-chicago-and-chicagoans-fb0ad93964 We’ve compiled perspectives and data resources about the new Census data that explains what happened to Chicago’s population (it went up). But first I’ll explain some basics about the data source.

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone in the country, called the decennial census, and is required by the U.S. Constitution. These counts inform redistricting, where the boundaries of elected representatives can be drawn because Congressional and other political...

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We’ve compiled perspectives and data resources about the new Census data that explains what happened to Chicago’s population (it went up). But first I’ll explain some basics about the data source.

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone in the country, called the decennial census, and is required by the U.S. Constitution. These counts inform redistricting, where the boundaries of elected representatives can be drawn because Congressional and other political districts — including Chicago’s wards — must have a nearly equal number of people in them.

An aerial photo of townhouses in the northwest section of Bridgeport, at the confluence of the Chicago River South Branch and Bubbly Creek.
The Bridgeport community area’s population increased by 5.6 percent from 2010 to 2020, and the number of dwelling units increased by 6.4 percent — likely assisted by the high area of non-residential redeveloped for townhouses like those shown above.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducted the count last year. In April, the bureau published “apportionment” data that says how many Congresspersons each state will have (Illinois will lose one Congressional seat; see the other states).

The most recent release, of decennial census data, on August 12, 2021, is what has been in the news this month; it’s the first dataset that includes information at the city level. The Illinois General Assembly used less accurate American Community Survey (ACS) data to redistrict the Illinois legislature and Cook County Board of Review boundaries. We explained these new state boundaries and added them to our map in June.

The Daily Line compared the ACS and decennial census data and found “wide deviation”: “The ACS data undercounted the state by 41,877 residents”, to give one example. Cook County was among 29 counties that were undercounted. To deal with this, Illinois legislature leaders scheduled a one-day special session on Friday, August 31.

What is Chicago’s population now?

Chicago’s population in 2010 was 2,695,598 and in 2020 was 2,746,388, an increase of 1.9 percent. The intervening population estimates — which showed “worrying” declines — were off, as explained in this Crain’s article.

Which demographic groups grew and shrunk?

The following analysis was done by demographer Frank Calebrese. Note that the Census form allows people to pick multiple races and combine it with an ethnicity of Hispanic or Latino. The categories below that are not “other” should be read as people choosing solely that race or ethnicity and not a combination; this is sometimes written as “[category] alone”.

  • Latino: up 5.22 percent
    778,862 to 819,518 (40,656 more people) — now the second largest race or ethnicity category in Chicago, after White
  • Black: down 9.71 percent
    872,286 to 787,551 (84,735 fewer people)
  • White: up 1.04 percent
    854,717 to 863,622 (8,905 more people)
  • Asian: up 31.02 percent
    144,903 to 189,857 (44,954 more people)
  • Other: up 91.48 percent
    44,830 to 85,840 (41,010 more people)— there is an increase of people not identifying by race, which Frank highlighted and on which Bread Price Fixer opined while the Census Bureau explained a difference in how it collected this attribute.

Which areas of Chicago grew and shrunk?

Downtown Chicago and the South Loop grew the most. More specifically, “Since 1990, the population of the Loop and its 3 adjacent community areas has nearly doubled, and the last decade saw the largest growth yet, both in raw and percentage terms,” (Bread Price Fixer, an anonymous Chicago-based data engineer).

The five community areas with the next highest growth were (click on any community area link to open its Place Snapshot and map):

  • Oakland (14.9 percent or 881 people; Oakland makes up part of the Bronzeville neighborhood)
  • Hyde Park: 14.7 percent or 3,775 people)
  • Grand Boulevard: 12.1 percent or 2,660 people; Grand Boulevard makes up part of the Bronzeville neighborhood)
  • Riverdale (12.0 percent or 780 people)
  • Douglas (11.3 percent or 2,053 people; Douglas makes up part of the Bronzeville neighborhood)
The map symbolizes Chicago’s 77 community areas by population change (between 2010 and 2020). Author: Noel Peterson (labels added by Steven Vance).

A more recent Crain’s article explores the growth in Bronzeville. The growth in those South Lakefront community areas can be seen in Noel Peterson’s map (who works for CMAP, and has posted the Census population data breakdown by community area).

The total increase in population in Douglas, Grand Boulevard, and Oakland was 5,594 people in 3,339 additional households (a population increase of 12.1 percent).

The growth in these three community areas underscores where a regrowth of the Black population in Chicago is happening, despite a 9.7 percent drop in the citywide Black population. Bread Price Fixer wrote, “An increase in Black residents accounted for a majority of overall population growth in Oakland, Grand Boulevard and Washington Park, and only Woodlawn saw a decrease in absolute number of Black residents.”

The Kenwood community area is also part of some people’s definition of Bronzeville, and the population increase there was 7.2 percent (or 1,275 people). Washington Park, which borders Hyde Park on the west, saw a greater increase than Kenwood of 8.5 percent (but a lower absolute change in population, with only 990 additional people).

The map, fascinatingly, shows that Logan Square lost population. It was already known for a while that the Hispanic/Latino population has decreased: “From 2010 to 2018 Logan Square’s Hispanic population fell from nearly 38,000 to just over 30,000 people — a loss of about 20%.” (Chicago Sun-Times, December 2019).

In fact, the total population of Logan Square decreased 1.5 percent from 2010 to 2020. At the same time, the White population increased there by 11.6 percent. The household size decreased 9.7 percent while the number of households increased 9.4 percent. Finally, the number of dwelling units increased by 6.9 percent.

I was glad to see that the number of dwelling units increased because Logan Square has been a prime area for deconversions (converting 2 or 3 units into 1) and teardowns (replacing 2 or 3 units with a new single-detached house). What we don’t know yet — from the Census data already made available — is how the affordability of existing units has changed and changes in households’ incomes and composition (number of children, elderly, etc.)

What data is coming later?

The Census Bureau will continue processing the census data and publish tables about age and sex, and the combinations of race and ethnicity and age and sex data. The other information that we commonly ascribe to the Census — including educational attainment, income, housing type and costs (including mortgage and rent), veteran status — will be part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 2020 release in December.

You can use our Lending & Investment Snapshot (which is an accessory to Place Snapshot and Address Snapshot) to review pre-2020 Census information in those above-mentioned categories.

Where can I get the data?

Download the full or processed datasets using the links below. Or, look up the Place Snapshot for any of Chicago’s 77 community areas on ChicagoCityscape.com and review the data table in the “More info” section.


What does the 2020 Census data tell us about Chicago and Chicagoans? 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/what-does-the-2020-census-data-tell-us-about-chicago-and-chicagoans-fb0ad93964 Tue, 24 Aug 2021 18:47:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[Chicago wants to sell four parking lots it owns on the North Side]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/chicago-wants-to-sell-four-parking-lots-it-owns-on-the-north-side-c946974500 Plus: One urban planner argues why it would be a good idea to keep a hold on some of the parking spaces.

Chicago’s Department of Planning & Development (DPD) has put up four surface car parking lots for sale on the North and Northwest Sides, expecting to net $10 million in the transactions. They are lightly used: “Between April and December of 2019, the lots’ parking utilization ranged from 3 to 12 percent of capacity”, according to a press release announcing the planned sales.

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Plus: One urban planner argues why it would be a good idea to keep a hold on some of the parking spaces.

Chicago’s Department of Planning & Development (DPD) has put up four surface car parking lots for sale on the North and Northwest Sides, expecting to net $10 million in the transactions. They are lightly used: “Between April and December of 2019, the lots’ parking utilization ranged from 3 to 12 percent of capacity”, according to a press release announcing the planned sales.

A little-used surface parking lot at the corner of Lincoln Ave and Berenice Ave in North Center. Photo: Alex Nitkin

All four parking lots are in areas where market activity and rents are high enough to spur and support new construction redevelopment opportunities. Chicago Cityscape’s Address Snapshot reports are the perfect tools to help identify complementary development nearby, amenities, eligibility for the city’s TOD ordinance, and calculate the zoning capacity.

The four parking lots are (links go to Address Snapshot reports, which are available to Cityscape Real Estate Pro members or for a one-time fee):

Want to locate more city-owned land that could be purchased? Most of the over 14,000 properties owned by Chicago can be bought through one of the city’s several acquisition programs, even if that property is not advertised. Chicago Cityscape has the only map of all of these properties, and we have three ways to locate them:

  • Look up city-owned land near an address of interest. Once you access the Address Snapshot for that address, click the “Load Chicago-owned property” button and find land up to one mile away.
The screenshot shows how to find Chicago-owned property near a given address within Address Snapshot.
  • Look up city-owned land in a given ZIP code, ward, or community area. Once you access the Place Snapshot, click the “Load Chicago-owned property” button to find land inside the boundary. Secondarily, use Property Finder and select the Chicago-owned property filter.
  • Look up city-owned land in an area of your choosing by drawing a Personal Place. Then, like the other options, click the “Load Chicago-owned property” button to find land inside the boundary as well as up to one mile away.

By some measures, the planning department in Mayor Lightfoot’s administration has beefed up its operations enough to sell more city-owned commercial-oriented land for better uses than vacancy. The INVEST South/West program is the most visible measure, whereby the department selected large plots — and even some existing buildings — and created robust RFPs with market data and sample renderings to generate wider interest.

The Large Lots program, on the other hand, through which the city sells vacant residential-oriented land to neighboring owners for $1, has been held back for almost three years by internal inter-departmental rules that inhibit or prohibit the sale of city-owned land that needs but hasn’t had environmental remediation. Pretty much all vacant land has some kind of remediation need, but it isn’t publicly known if the city has done enough testing to show that there’s a clear and present danger. Hundreds of Large Lots have already been sold and begun to be used, and even more — sold and unsold — have been used by neighbors long before the program began.

It’s a good thing that City Hall is more active in selling land it owns. Michael Podgers has argued in Streetsblog Chicago, however, that selling surface parking lots without a parking management plan is squandering the opportunity to mitigate the restrictive impacts of the parking meter deal. The need to compensate Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, for any loss in curbside parking makes it imperative to find alternative locations for it. These four parking lots (or parking garages in new residential buildings on these lots) are four ways to make room for the addition of bus lanes and protected bike lanes that the deal obstructs.

The planning department hasn’t indicated how it will evaluate bids, yet according to Alex Nitkin’s article in The Daily Line, “Nelson’s team [a broker at Cushman & Wakefield] will narrow the offers down to ‘a couple of bidders’ and the planning department will collaborate with aldermen to select the winning plan for each site, [Nelson] said.

With Chicago’s property sales programs, the highest bid doesn’t always win due to other criteria. For these parking lots, the city could reserve the right to “keep” some off-street parking spaces (not necessarily in their current physical form) for an eventual swap with curbside parking spaces.


Chicago wants to sell four parking lots it owns on the North Side 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/chicago-wants-to-sell-four-parking-lots-it-owns-on-the-north-side-c946974500 Tue, 10 Aug 2021 23:12:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[Chicago might allow cannabis dispensaries in more zoning districts]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/chicago-might-allow-cannabis-dispensaries-in-more-zoning-districts-335bd9445f Update September 8, 2021: A new version of the proposed ordinance was submitted today to the zoning committee. It removes the B3 zoning district from the proposal, keeps C1, and adds DS zoning districts. It would also allow craft growing in M2 and M3 without a special use approval as long as the property is 660 feet or further from R zoning districts. Via The Daily Line

Block Club Chicago reported earlier this week that Mayor Lightfoot introduced an ordinance to make locations in two...

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Update September 8, 2021: A new version of the proposed ordinance was submitted today to the zoning committee. It removes the B3 zoning district from the proposal, keeps C1, and adds DS zoning districts. It would also allow craft growing in M2 and M3 without a special use approval as long as the property is 660 feet or further from R zoning districts. Via The Daily Line

Block Club Chicago reported earlier this week that Mayor Lightfoot introduced an ordinance to make locations in two additional zoning districts eligible to have a cannabis dispensary. Currently, cannabis dispensaries are allowed in C2, C3, DC, and DX districts, and the ordinance, O2021–3249, would add B3 and C1 districts.

In my interview with Block Club, I told reporter Justin Laurence that, based on my mapping analysis, the proposed ordinance would increase the number of eligible locations by about eight times.

We created the map above for Block Club Chicago’s article to show how much new area would be eligible to have a cannabis dispensary if Chicago City Council adopts a proposed ordinance. The blue areas are currently eligible and the purple areas are eligible in the proposal.

The analysis included commercial and mixed-use properties in the existing and proposed zones that I thought could be easily redeveloped into a dispensary. I excluded vacant and parking lots (since new construction would take too long and is expensive), commercial condos, hotels, and malls.

A cannabis dispensary on Halsted Street in Chicago’s West Loop.

For landlords and dispensary owners, this will make it easier to find a suitable property and reduce the time and money costs of going through a zoning change, all while the “special use” process remains the same.

It’s so easy to look up an address on Chicago Cityscape and, within a minute or two, determine if it’s viable to have a cannabis dispensary there. We’re the only source for maps of where other dispensaries have indicated intent to open in Chicago. Our cannabis features can also help determine if the location could have a cultivation center, processor, or infuser.

In response to this proposal, Chicago Cityscape has made 4 updates to its exclusive cannabis features.

Our Cannabis features require a Cityscape Real Estate Pro membership. Start a free, 7-day trial instantly, request a demo, or get $100 off a new annual membership (through August 30, 2021).

Here’s what we’ve improved for zoning attorneys, commercial real estate brokers, dispensary owners, and building owners:

1. The Cannabis section of Address Snapshot has been updated to highlight the current eligible districts in the normal orange and the additional zoning districts in yellow. See the screenshot below; there are currently very few eligible zoning districts in nearly every part of Chicago, but a lot of proposed additional zoning districts.

Address Snapshot’s Cannabis map, specific to any address in Chicago that you look up, has been redesigned and shows the proposed additional zoning districts.

The same map still shows the locations of schools and other cannabis businesses. In Chicago, it also shows the location of dispensaries where business owners have filed “intent”.

2. We added Restricted Cannabis Zones, so that when you look up an address in an RCZ you will be alerted to that. There are currently only two election precincts where this is effective: 2-42 and 13–13.

The screenshot shows a warning that this Address Snapshot is within a Restricted Cannabis Zone.

3. Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance would also eliminate the seven cannabis districts in the city — which were intended to force the dispersion of dispensaries — and modify the boundary of the downtown exclusion area.

We have added a second downtown exclusion area to the maps so that you can see how the ordinance would affect site selection. Turn on the “Cannabis districts” layer to see the extant and proposed exclusion areas.

4. Locate viable properties by using Property Finder, which has two filters to quickly select all commercial and mixed-use properties in a given area that are in the right zoning districts.

Choose any Place Snapshot — like the Logan Square or Woodlawn community areas and click on the “Property Finder” button. Then set the Property Classes and Chicago zoning filters to the appropriate “cannabis” options.


Chicago might allow cannabis dispensaries in more zoning districts 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/chicago-might-allow-cannabis-dispensaries-in-more-zoning-districts-335bd9445f Thu, 05 Aug 2021 16:41:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[The first three Obama Presidential Center permits were issued]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/the-first-three-obama-presidential-center-permits-were-issued-61f1a0a2b2 The 1st three Obama Presidential Center permits were issued

The Obama Presidential Center got its first building permits this week for construction within Jackson Park. Three building permits cover installing caissons (part of foundation work) and tree removal and site clearing for the “forum”, a Chicago Public Library branch, and a partially submerged parking garage. This post briefly covers where those future structures are and what they look like.

Start by reviewing the site plan...

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The 1st three Obama Presidential Center permits were issued

The Obama Presidential Center got its first building permits this week for construction within Jackson Park. Three building permits cover installing caissons (part of foundation work) and tree removal and site clearing for the “forum”, a Chicago Public Library branch, and a partially submerged parking garage. This post briefly covers where those future structures are and what they look like.

Start by reviewing the site plan below, which is dated October 2019 and I believe the most recent version. You can interact with this story on Twitter.

Want to be notified when new permits come in? Sign up for a Chicago Cityscape members. All membership tiers include permit notifications.

Our highest membership tier, Cityscape Real Estate Pro, is $100 off a year-long subscription for new subscribers until August 30, 2021. Sign up instantly or request a demo.

The Forum

The Forum building is the two-story building shown on the right in the image below, and is southeast of the 219-feet tall museum on the left. The permitted address is 6011 S Stony Island Ave. It will be 22 feet tall.

The Obama Presidential Center website describes the Forum “a commons designed to bring people together” to contain a broadcast and recording studio, auditorium, meeting spaces, and a restaurant. The Forum’s roof overhangs the plaza by 17 feet, providing a good amount of area under shade and protected from precipitation.

A rendering of the Forum and plaza. The base of the museum is shown on the left. All images are attributed to Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.
This rendering is from the view atop the Chicago Public Library branch; the Forum is on the right, the the museum tower is in the background, and the plaza is in the foreground. The view is looking north, and Stony Island Ave is on the left.

The library

The Obama Presidential Center is not a presidential library, since it doesn’t meet the standards of such set forth by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). There is an Obama Presidential Library, though, and it exists in archives and online (read how that works).

But there will be a library, a branch of the Chicago Public Library. A unique aspect of this library is the rooftop space (briefly depicted in the image above), and a rooftop garden “similar to the garden that Mrs. Obama planted at the White House”. An elevator will provide direct roof access.

The permitted address for the new CPL branch is 6021 S Stony Island Ave; the building will be 36 feet tall.

The parking garage

The third permit that was issued is for a partially below-grade parking garage. The roof of the garage will blend with the library’s roof, and a park. Think of Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, both of which are built atop parking garages.

The parking structure’s permitted address is 6101 S Stony Island Ave. By footprint, the parking garage will be the largest structure in the OPC and have a maximum of 450 car parking spaces. (Comparatively, the PD 1409 document states that the site will have 50 bicycle parking spaces, which seems insufficient.)

Not yet permitted

  • The museum tower is the first main building (letter “B” on the site plan)
  • The Program, Athletic, and Activity Center is the fourth main building, and will have a gymnasium with a basketball court (letter “N” on the site plan, across from a relocated track and field)
  • The open space areas (including a “Great Lawn”), other landscaping, and promenades and park paths

The first three Obama Presidential Center permits were issued 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/the-first-three-obama-presidential-center-permits-were-issued-61f1a0a2b2 Wed, 21 Jul 2021 18:16:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[Cityscape receives grant to launch a “Data Equity Cohort”]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/cityscape-receives-grant-to-launch-a-data-equity-cohort-a5cb59eee1 This is an announcement about a grant-supported program we are launching.

Chicago Cityscape is a real estate information platform designed to spark and inspire more equitable development in overlooked and underinvested neighborhoods by organizing and aggregating property data, policy information, and market insights into one platform — equalizing access to information for underrepresented and resourced property professional and nonprofit organizations.

Chicago-based organizations and...

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This is an announcement about a grant-supported program we are launching.

Chicago Cityscape is a real estate information platform designed to spark and inspire more equitable development in overlooked and underinvested neighborhoods by organizing and aggregating property data, policy information, and market insights into one platform — equalizing access to information for underrepresented and resourced property professional and nonprofit organizations.

Chicago-based organizations and individuals who work to build housing and promote economic and neighborhood development should have equal access to property data, policy information, and market insights to shape a more equity-minded built environment.

From Cityscape’s perspective, this cohort includes emerging, less experienced, and mission-oriented real estate developers (especially people of color who, as a group, receive less funding and investment for their projects); non-profit organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Special Service Areas (SSA), Community Development Corporations (CDC); housing development & advocacy organizations; and nascent land ownership models like cooperatives and land trusts.

Chicago Cityscape recently received a capacity building grant from Searle Funds through the Chicago Community Trust. With these funds we will work alongside the “focus” organizations and individuals mentioned above to:

  • We will coach focus organizations and individuals on how to leverage our current tools on the Cityscape platform — for free — in exchange for their feedback.,
  • We’re going to learn from them what needs to be added, adjusted, and improved on our platform to co-design solutions that help meet their missions.
  • We’re going to continue to reduce barriers to access data and technology in the community development process.

Steven and Casey will present at Chi Hack Night (on Zoom) on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, about new data and tools on Chicago Cityscape that have been developed to “spark and inspire more equitable development” as well as our plans for this grant-funded program.

Watch the video recording on YouTube.

Here’s how we want you to participate in this program:

  • If you identify as the leader of one of the types of focus organizations listed above, or are an individual that fits one of the descriptions, say hi to casey+focus@chicagocityscape.com.
  • If you know of an organization or person you think should join our program, email your suggestion to casey+focus@chicagocityscape.com
  • If you want to know more about Chicago Cityscape and this program immediately, schedule a discovery & demonstration session with Casey Smagala. Afterward, you may be invited to participate in our program.

Additionally, we will be hiring a designer with community engagement experience to help us develop our interview structure and synthesize feedback to help develop new products. The job notice will be posted on our website and social media in June or July.


Cityscape receives grant to launch a “Data Equity Cohort” 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/cityscape-receives-grant-to-launch-a-data-equity-cohort-a5cb59eee1 Thu, 17 Jun 2021 13:45:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[See if you have a new electoral district in 2022 with adopted redistricted maps]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/see-if-you-have-a-new-electoral-district-in-2022-with-adopted-redistricted-maps-070aefc5b4 Check if your house was redistricted

Look up your address to see if you have a new electoral district in 2022 with recently redistricted maps

Chicago Cityscape has added the newly adopted maps for the Illinois House, the Illinois Senate, the Illinois Appellate/Supreme Court, and the Cook County Board of Review. Maps of the five Illinois Appellate/Supreme Court districts and the three Cook County Board of Review districts are also brand new to the database. Our Place Snapshot Explorer now has...

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Check if your house was redistricted

Look up your address to see if you have a new electoral district in 2022 with recently redistricted maps

Chicago Cityscape has added the newly adopted maps for the Illinois House, the Illinois Senate, the Illinois Appellate/Supreme Court, and the Cook County Board of Review. Maps of the five Illinois Appellate/Supreme Court districts and the three Cook County Board of Review districts are also brand new to the database. Our Place Snapshot Explorer now has 39,562 maps.

All four Place Snapshot types are effective immediately (they were signed by Governor Pritzker last week) and will be utilized in the 2022 elections.

It’s easy to look up any address in Illinois and see what the new and old districts are, with Address Snapshot.

The screenshot shows an address in Chicago where residents will be voting in new Illinois General Assembly district races in 2022.

For example, the residents of the 2600 block of W Cullerton St in Chicago’s South Lawndale community area will be voting in new Illinois House and Illinois Senate races.

And the residents of the Holiday Lane Condos in Des Plaines are “moving” from the Cook County Board of Review’s 1st District to the 2nd District.

The screenshot shows an address in Des Plaines where residents will be voting in a new Cook County Board of Review district (possibly in 2022).

Look up your address, and on the resulting Address Snapshot report, scroll down to Surrounding Places. In the search field above the table, type in “redistricting” to see the old and potentially new districts, or click the new “Redistricted areas” filter.

Note that the Chicago City Council is undergoing a remap currently, and may be waiting until after detailed Census data is published before finalizing and adopting a redistricting map. An independent redistricting advisory commission has been formed to encourage City Council members to use a transparent remap process.


See if you have a new electoral district in 2022 with adopted redistricted maps 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/see-if-you-have-a-new-electoral-district-in-2022-with-adopted-redistricted-maps-070aefc5b4 Wed, 09 Jun 2021 10:55:00 -0500 Steven Vance
<![CDATA[110 property owners have told City Hall they intend to build an ADU]]> https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/110-property-owners-have-told-city-hall-they-intend-to-build-an-adu-ab07cb22b1 Chicago’s ADU ordinance went into effect on May 1, 2021, and the Chicago Department of Housing launched intake form the following Monday (May 3). As well as a new website. A full week has gone by so I asked DOH how many property owners have, so far, submitted the form.

Via Chicago, one of tens of ADU service providers listed in our directory, created this rendering of a backyard house for a potential client. Read the description of this project below.

The intake form is a required step...

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Chicago’s ADU ordinance went into effect on May 1, 2021, and the Chicago Department of Housing launched intake form the following Monday (May 3). As well as a new website. A full week has gone by so I asked DOH how many property owners have, so far, submitted the form.

Via Chicago, one of tens of ADU service providers listed in our directory, created this rendering of a backyard house for a potential client. Read the description of this project below.

The intake form is a required step before submitting a building permit application to the Chicago Department of Buildings, and it’s there for two main reasons: To verify the eligibility of the property, and for DOH to remind the applicant about the affordable requirements. It has no closing date, so there is no rush.

110 applications have been submitted from Monday, May 3, to this morning, representing at least 123 units. Here’s the breakdown of how many additional dwelling units owners are proposing, and where:

  • The majority of applications are for interior apartments (70 of 110, 64 percent). That means property owners have proposed 40 backyard houses in one week.
  • Six applications for interior apartments are for two apartments, and two applications are for three or more interior apartments. All eight applicants will have to rent 50 percent of those apartments at an affordable rate, which will be set by the housing department each year. A building must have five existing units before it can propose two or more interior apartments.

There are five pilot areas where new ADUs are allowed (click on the link to see a map of each pilot area):

  1. Northwest area (47 applications were submitted, 3 of which have at least one affordable unit)
  2. North area (43, 2 of which have at least one affordable unit)
  3. South (14, 3 of which have at least one affordable unit)
  4. West (5)
  5. Southeast (1)

Alder Ramirez-Rosa is probably excited about that, since nearly 80 percent of the 35th Ward is in the Northwest pilot area and he had wanted the entirety of his ward to be eligible for an ADU; presumably most of the 47 applications are in the 35th Ward.

Part of the ADU ordinance are two more provisions to increase the number of affordable ADUs in Chicago: one is a grant program to get new interior apartments built, and legalize existing ones through whatever modifications need to be made to make them compliant with the building code; the second is setting aside some of the Low Income Housing Trust Fund vouchers (which are separate from CHA vouchers, and used only for households with very low incomes) to be spent on rent at ADUs rather than other apartment types.

The Department of Housing gave me this statement about the grant program:

“The Department of Housing is working to make sure that the ADU policy is equitably benefiting every community in a pilot zone. DOH will provide financial support for low and moderate-income homeowners making up to 80% AMI to build new ADUs in each of the 5 pilot areas. These grants will help qualified applicants cover the cost to prepare drawings and a scope of work for a building permit, and to complete the construction of an ADU project.
More information will be available when applications open in June 2021. DOH will continue to monitor application data and adjust outreach accordingly to achieve the most equitable results.”

Upcoming ADU events

Need to learn more about building an ADU in Chicago? The Departments of Housing and Buildings are hosting six webinars in May and June, con un webinar en español el lunes 24 de mayo, de 6:30 a 7:30 p.m. (inscribirse).

Via Chicago’s backyard house design

Cristina Gallo, architect and owner of Via Chicago Architects × Diseñadores, wrote to me:

With “Switch” we focused on how to create an accessible, ground floor ADU, which is very difficult under the constraints of the current ADU ordinance. Two of the most common motivations for homeowners wanting to build an ADU are “aging in place” and “multi-generational living,” commonly referred to as a “granny flat” for elderly parents.
But these living situations are challenging when the apartment is located up a full flight of stairs, over a garage. We were able to accomplish this by starting with a lot that has a smaller-than-usual principal home, and we elected not to build a garage. Providing two at-grade, uncovered parking spots eliminates that from our footprint calculations (limited to 60% of the required rear setback area) and lets us build a comfortable one-bedroom, 460 s.f. apartment in front of the parking spaces while still providing plenty of rear yard open space.

Editor’s note: I have pointed out many times that the ordinance, as adopted, discourages accessible backyard houses (which essentially requires an at-grade structure) on standard-width lots by not allowing a reduction in existing required parking. A previous version of the ordinance would have allowed a parking space to be removed for some properties, freeing up space to have a parking space and an at-grade backyard house side-by-side.


110 property owners have told City Hall they intend to build an ADU 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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https://www.chicagocityscape.com/blog/110-property-owners-have-told-city-hall-they-intend-to-build-an-adu-ab07cb22b1 Tue, 11 May 2021 15:34:00 -0500 Steven Vance