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Chicago’s $1 ‘Large Lots’ deadline nears; here’s how to apply

The deadline to apply to buy property for $1 in the city's Large Lot program is fast approaching. | City of Chicago website

A program enabling Chicagoans to buy vacant, city-owned lots on their blocks for $1 apiece is drawing thousands of applicants as the deadline to apply quickly approaches.

The city so far has received about 2,200 applications for the 4,000 listings posted for sale in the Large Lots program, records show. The deadline to apply is midnight on Jan. 31.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched the program in Englewood and surrounding neighborhoods in 2014 to improve more than 20,000 of Chicago’s empty lots. Since its inception, the city has put lots up for sale six times, most recently in November.

Residents can go online to www.largelots.org/apply/ to apply. The website also allows people to enter their addresses, select up to two lots for sale on their blocks and provide proof they live on the same block by downloading a document, called a deed, from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds website.

A city website shows people how to obtain data that shows they are qualified to by up to two vacant lots on their blocks. | City of Chicago website

A city website shows people how to obtain data that shows they are qualified to by up to two vacant lots on their blocks. | City of Chicago website

Landowners can apply to purchase a lot if they already own property on the same block, have paid their property taxes and have no outstanding debt with the city of Chicago.

Property owners can purchase up to two lots each, and they won’t be required to pay back taxes on the property, which they can resell after five years. The lots are advertised at $1, but there are $56 in closing costs. All lots are intended for residential uses only, and churches are not eligible to apply.

To apply in person, go to the Department of Planning and Development at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., room 1103.

In the past three years, the city has sold 550 empty lots through the program. Another 20 deals are expected to close by the end of the week, said Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the city’s planning and development department.

Most of the lots have been turned into community gardens or side yards.

Strazzabosco said while the number of applications in the current window exceeded city expectations, some lots will go unsold.

“Unsold lots will remain in the city’s inventory and be available for purchase through the city’s existing land sale programs,” Strazzabosco said. “They may be available for purchase through the Large Lots program at a later date.”

The latest listings — the sixth and largest expansion of the program — brought Large Lots to 33 South Side and West Side neighborhoods.

“The Large Lots program turns vacant lots into neighborhood assets that benefit neighbors and communities,” Emanuel said in a November press release. “This program’s success is driven by people who are committed to strengthening their communities block by block, and this expansion will create opportunities to strengthen neighborhoods throughout the entire city of Chicago.”

Neighborhoods included in the latest sale were: Auburn Gresham; Austin; Avalon Park; Burnside; Calumet Heights; Chatham; East Garfield; East Side; Englewood; Fuller Park; Hegewisch; Humboldt Park; Morgan Park; New City; North Lawndale; Riverdale; Roseland Pullman; South Chicago; South Deering; South Shore; Washington Heights; West Englewood; West Garfield and West Pullman.

The city also offered lots in parts of: Chicago Lawn; Douglas; Gage Park; Grand Boulevard; Greater Grand Crossing; the Near West Side; Oakland; South Lawndale and Washington Park.

To obtain help in applying for the program, contact any of the following agencies:

New Covenant Community Development Corp.
1111 South Homan Ave., (773) 826-1356

Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
1751 W. 47th St., 2nd Floor, (773) 523-4416

Teamwork Englewood
815 W. 63rd St., No. 2, (773) 488-6600

Garfield Park Community Council
300 N Central Park Ave., (773) 638-1766, extension 21

Claretian Associates
9108 South Brandon Ave., (773) 734-9181

Neighborhood Housing Services Roseland
11001 S. Michigan Ave., (773) 568-1020

For frequently asked questions, click here.