Frequently asked questions

Once I apply, how long will it take to hear back?

Applicants will receive information regarding the status of their application about 6 weeks after the application period has ended (around mid-March for applicants in Austin).

How will applications be evaluated?

The main point of evaluation is to assess the completeness of the application and proof of ownership. If multiple requests are submitted for the same property the City will review on a case by case basis.

How many times can I apply?

Only one application will be accepted per property deed. If you own multiple properties in the pilot area, you can submit one application per property. If you have a deed with multiple grantors listed, only one application can be submitted.

What happens if the same lot is applied for by different people/organizations?

If there are multiple applications for the same lot, the City will host a lottery to determine the chosen applicant.

Where can I get help in filling out my application?

You can get free assistance in filling out your application from City of Chicago staff downtown at the Department of Planning and Development.

Department of Planning and Development
121 N. LaSalle St, Room 905 Chicago, IL 60602
Jeanne Chandler
(312) 744-0605
Monday — Friday: 8:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation
7901 S. Racine, Chicago, IL 606020
Nicole Wheatly, Project Manager

Are there any closing costs?

Yes, there are closing costs associated with purchasing the property from the City of Chicago. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds charges $56.00 for the recording of the deed.

How much in property taxes will I pay?

The amount of yearly property tax you will pay is determined by the Cook County Assessor and based on the assessed value of the property and the tax rates for all local governments providing services in your community.

To get a sense of what the property tax will be for your vacant lot, we took a look at the taxes paid for a few vacant lots sold by the City of Chicago:

Address Sq ft Assessed value 2012 taxes Sold on
5302 S Winchester Ave 2,892 $15,900 $287.65 Sept 8, 2011
745 N Cicero Ave 3,305 $28,268 $548.01 Jul 6, 2011
1319 S Tripp Ave 3,142 $31,420 $563.81 Apr 13, 2011
1326 W 109th St 3,730 $20,510 $368.83 March 9, 2011

Will I have to pay back taxes?

No you will not. When the lot is sold, no unpaid taxes by the previous owner will be transferred to you.

What can I do with the lot after I purchase it?

You must maintain the lot in accordance with the City of Chicago Municipal Code. See the sections on weeds, lot maintenance and fences:

Residential development

Additionally, lots purchased from the Large Lot Program are all zoned Residential, meaning you may build on the lot as long as its in accordance with the City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance on Residential lots. Generally speaking, you may build a house or apartment building, but stores, offices, and factories are not allowed.

What defines a block?

Property owners can purchase a city-owned lot:

How do I download my deed from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds?

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds holds records of property ownership. If your deed was dated before 1985, you will need to pick up your deed in person at 118 N Clark St and then scan or take a picture of it.

If your deed is from after 1985, you can download a scanned version of your property deed by following these steps:

1. Look up your Property Identification Number (PIN)

You will need to know the PIN of your own property. You can look it up by your address on

2. Search records under your PIN

Enter your current PIN here and click Search. You will see a list of various records associated with your PIN.

3. View your deed

Click on the most recent DEED - this will likely be in the first row. Document details will show up on the right side of the page, and a scanned image of your deed will show up in a new window. If you do not see the scanned image, click View Images (make sure pop-ups are allowed).

4. Download your deed as a PDF (this costs $4.00)

Within the pop-up, click Print Document and enter your payment information. Once you are done, you will have the scanned document as a PDF on your computer.

Handouts and flyers

City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development has a one page handout with details on the Large Lot Program. Feel free to download, print and share it!

More questions?

Read more about this program on the City of Chicago website. Please direct questions about the Large Lot Pilot Program to:

Jeanne Chandler
City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Phone: (312) 744-0605

If you have questions about the website, contact us at