Cook County selling nearly 3,200 vacant lots to encourage redevelopment
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
by Corilyn Shropshire
Continuing its quest to spruce up city and suburban neighborhoods, the Cook County Land Bank is putting 3,189 vacant lots up for sale.
The lots will be made available at below-market rates to individuals, developers and organizations. The land bank is hoping those who buy the properties will redevelop them in ways that meet community needs, by creating amenities like public gardens, play lots and basketball courts.
Most of the vacant lots are in areas hit hard by the 2008 foreclosure crisis and are delinquent on taxes. Many of the 2,436 vacant lots in Chicago are on the South and West sides. The land bank also put 753 vacant lots in the suburbs up for sale.
The lots were acquired as part of the 2017 biannual Cook County tax scavenger sale. Because the land bank aims to have community members transform these lots to address community needs, in acquiring the properties it has the authority to clear back taxes and other related fees to help eliminate barriers to buying the properties.
The program is similar to the city’s Large Lots program, which slashes red tape and encourages community members to buy vacant, blighted properties for just $1 and redevelop them.
“This unique opportunity gives those who are committed to turning their communities around an affordable and flexible tool to breathe new life into them block by block,” land bank Executive Director Rob Rose said in a news release. “Putting these lots back to a useful purpose complements our work to place vacant, tax delinquent homes back onto the tax rolls, expand homeownership, help community-based developers grow their business and keep revenue in the community.”
Potential buyers of lots in Chicago are required to provide a letter of support from the local alderman if they don't live in the same ward as the property. Buyers of suburban properties must have the support of the municipality if the purchaser is not local.
The land bank also is offering commercial and industrial properties.
The lots available for sale can be found at www.cookcountylandbank.org/taxcertificateprogram.