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Mimi Simon | Department of Buildings 312.744.7384 firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Giancamilli | Chicago Police Department 312.745.6110 email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As part of the city of Chicago’s ongoing effort to make our communities safer, the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Buildings announced today that the city is expediting the demolition of vacant buildings in police districts with high-crime rates. In doing so, the city is using every tool at its disposal to fight crime and stop gangs from using select buildings as centers for illegal activity. Expedited demolition of targeted buildings will begin today at three vacant buildings at 228, 236, and 244 W. 113th Street.
“The demolition of these buildings is part of our all-of-the-above approach to keep residents safe, protect our communities, and invest in the future of our neighborhoods,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “The actions we are taking are clear: we will not rest in our collective effort to rid Chicago of crime and gang activity. We are committed to using every tool available to build a better future for the city of Chicago.”
Over the past few years, the CPD and the Department of Buildings has worked together, along with input from elected officials and community members, to demolish and secure vacant buildings that serve as hubs for violence and gang activity. In 2016, the City has completed 14 demolitions, and also boarded up and secured approximately 425 buildings.
The buildings torn down today meet a number of factors that warrant its demolition: they are located on a block with documented criminal activity; the buildings’ owner is absent or not taking responsibility; and the structures are unsound and are marked by years of deterioration beyond repair.
“Given the close proximity to a new day care center, I have been diligently working with the Department of Buildings to jump start the demolition of these buildings and I am pleased these demolitions are occurring today,” said 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin. “Now the day care center owner may have the opportunity to purchase these vacant lots to build a play lot and a vegetable garden for the children.”
This latest move to expedite the demolition of buildings complements ongoing efforts by the city to disrupt the cycle of violence in a number of neighborhoods. Over the past few months, under the new Summary Closure Ordinance, the CPD has closed businesses that were the sight of shootings and murders in order to expedite safety planning and other measures to make conditions safer. Furthermore, the Police Department has also decentralized gang and enforcement police units so that they are better able to make enforcement decisions; partnered with Cook County Sheriff’s Department to better coordinate its response to gang violence; and conducted a series of targeted raids in areas that are problematic, resulting in the seizure of guns, cash, and drugs.
The city has also implemented its Large Lot initiative, which aims to help property owners, block clubs and non-profit groups in select neighborhoods purchase City-owned land for $1 per parcel. Many owners buy lots in order to stabilize neighborhoods, control public access to properties and prevent loitering. More than 280 lots were made available for purchase in Fall 2015 in Roseland.
“When buildings are left vacant, they become targets for gangs to use as gathering places and centers for illegal activity,” said Chicago Police Department Chief of Patrol Eddie Johnson. “Through the city’s demolition program we are expediting the removal of places where crime can occur. This is just one of the important public safety initiatives we have working every day to address crime and also provide sites where new development can occur.”
The city of Chicago requires that an owner of a vacant building register the building with the city once it is vacant for more than 30 days. Each owner of a vacant building is also required to secure, insure and maintain that building as required by ordinance. Registration must be renewed every six months. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in significant penalties. Residents are encouraged to call 311 to report a vacant and troubled building and a building inspector will be sent out to investigate the concerns.
“The Department of Buildings actively works with the Chicago Police Department and community residents each day to identify building owners, determine viability of vacant properties and manage the demolition of dangerous and hazardous buildings to protect the life safety of residents,” said Judy Frydland, Commissioner for the Department of Buildings. “We are committed to expediting the demolition process to eliminate these buildings in high crime districts as quickly as possible.”