Chicago Selling $1 Lots In Jennifer Hudson’s Old Neighborhood

March 21, 2014  |  

This might be the real estate deal of the  century. In a move to revamp some of its most blighted areas, Chicago will sell hundreds of properties for “the price of a candy bar,”reports The Huffington Post.

Amazing as it sounds, it’s all part of  the Green and Healthy Chicago Neighborhoods initiative, which was pushed through by the Chicago Plan Commission. Under the initiative, the specific Large Lots pilot program will let qualifying residents and nonprofits purchase city-owned vacant lots for just $1 in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.

“It’s designed to move vacant properties out of the city’s hands and into private ownership,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “People can use the land to expand the yards around their homes, to create gardens on their block, or for beautification, housing, or for other purposes.”

But is it a steal? The area is one of the city’s most devastated . There was even a documentary, The Area, done about the depressing state of the community. An isolated area –where Jennifer Hudson grew up, by the way — it’s one of Chicago’s poorest sections, reports IndieWire. Most of the notorious gun murders in Chicago have been taking place in Englewood.

Still, the community seems excited by the initiative. “Some people said they would like to install public art. Some people said they were looking for more of a community garden, or a place where young people can be in the area,” Asiaha Butler, president and co-founder of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, told The Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve heard dog park. And some people if they’re very ambitious, they may even build on that lot. You never know.”

In order to buy a $1 property, applicants must already own property on the same block as the lot they want to buy; they have to be current on property taxes; and have no financial obligations to the city (such as water bills or parking tickets). They must also inform the city how they want to use the property, DNAinfo Chicago reports.

One developer purchased six lots with plans of turning them into affordable housing.

Other cities have similar programs, such as in Gary, Ind., and Milwaukee. Even New York City had a similar program to bring developers to rehab vacant properties in Harlem.

This is not the first time Chicago has offered $1 properties. “In 2009, the city sold about 80 South Side parcels at a dollar each to be used for single-family homes, as well as five acres of vacant parcels on the Far South Side to a developer,” reports The Sun-Times.

Chicago’s latest Department of Planning & Development program could branch out to other areas, such as Washington Park, Woodlawn, Fuller Park and Greater Grand Crossing where there are a total of 5,000 vacant lots.

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