City-Owned Land Sale Programs

Prior to 2022, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) made City-owned real estate available for purchase and redevelopment through the following programs.

Properties in the Department’s inventory consisted mostly of vacant residential, commercial, and industrial land, but the inventory could also include improved properties.

The Department maintained the City-Owned Land System database (COLS) which provides information on tax parcel information, ownership, address, and whether a parcel is held or reserved for a contemplated project.

The Chicago Zoning Map Tool is a resource to identify City-owned lots and property zoning.  Using the advanced tools tab, the interactive mapping tool allows all City-owned lots to be displayed on the map. Interactive Zoning Map

Below Market Land Sales 

Within the south and west side areas where there the City had many vacant parcels, the Department provided two programs for neighborhood residents and property owners to acquire property at less than market value.    

Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program
The Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program (ANLAP) made City land available to adjacent property owners for a discounted price. The purchaser must own one or more contiguous parcels of real property immediately adjacent to the City-owned parcel. At least one of the parcels must be occupied by the purchaser as a primary residence. During the first 10 years of ownership, the land must be used for open space, a garage or an addition to the main residence.

ANLAP Application and Program Overview

Large Lots
Large Lots was a City of Chicago neighborhood stabilization initiative to help property owners, block clubs and non-profit groups in select Chicago neighborhoods to purchase City-owned land for $1 per parcel. Up to two lots were available per application. Properties were sold “as is” via a Quit Claim deed. The lots were to be used to expand the yards of existing homes, for beautification, for gardens, for housing, and other uses permitted by Residential (R) zoning. Successful applicants were required to maintain ownership of lots for at least five years. Applications were only accepted during the Large Lot open application period.    

Large Lots Overview

Market Rate Land Sales   

Any entity or individual could qualify to purchase City property at fair market value. The purchaser was required to demonstrate the ability to complete the purchase and the proposed development.     

The value of the property was established by an appraisal prepared by an independent appraiser approved and procured by the City, at the purchaser’s cost.  City land sales additionally required environmental site assessments based on the proposed use and zoning.  The purchaser was responsible for obtaining required environmental site assessment reports and environmental cleanup, if necessary.

Consideration for a reduced cost less than appraised value was considered for not-for-profit community based organizations and for targeted development areas when the proposed development met the redevelopment goals of the community and provided tangible public benefits, such as affordable housing units, new or retained jobs, new retail services in an underserved community, cultural activities, social services, or fiscal benefits.

The Application and Land Sale process consisted of five steps.

  • Step 1 Letter of Interest
  • Step 2 Land Sale Purchase Application
  • Step 3 Review of the purchase application by DPD and other City agencies
  • Step 4 Legislative Approvals including City Council
  • Step 5 Land Sale Closing

The purpose of the initial Letter of Interest was for DPD to consider the applicant and their proposal for the site within the context of existing City plans and redevelopment objectives. If the proposal was accepted by DPD, the applicant was asked to provide a full Land Sale Purchase Application which would include detailed site, architectural, and landscape plans, economic disclosure statement, financial information and other support materials.

Market Rate Sales
The Market Rate Sale program enabled qualified individuals or entities to purchase vacant or improved properties that are owned by the City. The value of the property was established by a market value appraisal prepared by an independent appraiser. Any property sold through a Market Rate Sale required a good faith deposit, a detailed project budget and source and uses of funds.  If the project included City financial assistance, a Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) may have been required.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
DPD issues RFPs that identify goals and objectives for specific City-owned properties. Each RFP describes the type of development being sought, any financial incentives being offered, the offering price, and instructions for submitting responsive proposals. RFPs are posted on DPD’s website and announced through a public notice published in the Sun-Times.

Sealed Bids
A sealed bid sale offers City-owned land to any person or entity through a competitive bid process. The program is intended for the development of small, market-rate projects that do not require City assistance. Upon receipt of an independent appraisal, the CIty places an advertisement in a local newspaper notifying the public of the sale for a minimum bid equal to the land’s appraised value.  In addition to highest purchase price, proposals are evaluated based on buyer qualifications and the extent to which the proposal enhances the neighborhood.  

Broker Sales
Third-party brokers are sometimes used to help facilitate the sale of select City-owned properties. The broker will market a property in advance of a public notice being placed in a local newspaper. 

City-owned Surplus Buildings For Sale
City-owned properties improved with former police and fire stations, schools, and a variety of special purpose structures are available for sale to private-sector purchasers. The properties are vacant and in need of rehabilitation, and may be historic. Surplus buildings are typically sold through the Market Rate Sale process.

Supporting Information Facts