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Real Estate Investing for $1? Introducing the Large Lots Program!

The Large Lots Program was initiated as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 5 year economic rescue plan to dedicate $1.3 billion to build, rehabilitate, and preserve over 41,000 units of housing between 2014 & 2018. As part of the $7million plan, proposed to reduce crime, increase the quality of education and improve the economy, Englewood, Chicago will be long remembered as the community where selling city-owned vacant lots for $1 was piloted. That's quite a lot of luck for a buck.

Community-minded property owners, non-profit groups & block clubs are taking it very seriously. In fact, everyone from technology partners to clergymen & community resource groups teamed to encourage support. Together, they insured that policy didn't inhibit the intended easy access to those who qualify. Neighborhoods with unreliable internet access, were gifted such through civic technology partners & The Macarthur Foundation, and all potential barriers to the process were removed. While each lot owner will have to pay several hundred in property taxes per year, the benefits still out weigh the cost. A city, once suffering from economic decay and disinvestment, has now been offered an opportunity to reinvest and recreate a positive outlook from within. There is no stronger community than one solidified from those who have personal interest in the brick, mortar, and ground of their neighborhood. Some families have lived for generations in Englewood, and are now inspired by the opportunity to participate. Overall, the success of the Large Lots Program in Englewood has sprouted pilot programs number 2 & 3 in two additional communities since. Related: Top 5 Fix and Flip Real Estate Investing Tips


How Does The City Benefit from $1 Lots?

The city of Chicago can now devoid itself of maintenance costs associated with almost 13,500 vacant city-owned lots. More than 9,000 of them are zoned residential, and until sold, do not garner property tax income for the city. Vacant lots are known to be an eyesore, and often a mecca for weeds, litter, and the criminal element. Once purchased, these lots serve to improve the community in many ways: real estate investingSome people will create a green meeting place, while others might profit from a real estate rehab, buy and hold, or fix and flip project. Asiaha Butler, beams in excitement at discussing the redevelopment opportunities stemming from the large corner lot that she purchased across the street from her home, and next door to a three-flat rental property that she owns. Butler would like to transform the weeds into a communal spot for her tenants to enjoy. A gathering place with barbeque, benches, and gardens, will provide Asiah's with a karmically sound view of community activity from her home too. And, if she so chooses, she can sell it in 5 years and experience a predicted financial gain by investing in real estate.


The Large Lot Program 2014 to Now

The results have far exceeded the projected success by all. Over 4,000 lots were offered in Englewood, and applicants, could include up to two lots in their application. 416 applications were submitted to the city by late 2014. 298 lots were sold. Pilot 2 was introduced in East Garfield Park, in hopes for the same level of municipal income, revitalizing communities and empowering neighborhoods.

“Given the program’s success in the Englewood community, we are proud to expand this promising revitalization opportunity to East Garfield Park,” said DPD Commissioner Andrew J. Mooney. “The expansion of the Large Lot program will enable East Garfield Park residents to invest in their communities and transform underutilized land into neighborhood assets." 

Real Estate Investing Marie Cole, East Garfield Park Applicant

Community member-investors submitted 319 applications for 417 lots from July 1st to the August 4, 2014 deadline. 190 lots were “successfully applied for”, according to $1 LARGE LOTS,, the official application portal. Results have not yet been reported. Marie Cole was one of the hopeful applicants in East Garfield Park who said she applied so she could change the view framed by her front window “from plastic snack bags, beer cans and who knows what else to this (a garden).” The new year brought the same hope to the Austin community as they joined the fervor too. Those looking to invest scurried to apply for the available 248 city-owned vacant lots in Pilot 3, and many anxiously await the results. Furthermore, it's believed that the Large Lots program will reach through North Lawndale before it's all is said and done.


From the Ashes

When measuring the program’s success, we focus regularly on Englewood as it has an interesting economic history. In the 1960's, Englewood was the #1 neighborhood retail center in the nation. After a series of devastating events in the late 1960’s, the housing market crashed, the crime rate rose, and flight out of the community ensued. Homes and businesses were boarded up and remaining people became fragments of communities entrapped by disinvestment and accustomed to a lack of real estate investing in their neighborhoods. As a result, Englewood eventually fell into the highest rate of unemployment with the largest number of vacant lots in Chicago. Related: From Extinguishing Fires to Igniting Hope

real estate investingTo Empower Growing Communities

As pride in the community rises, so does the hope for new people to move into these once abandoned sections now on the rise. A powerful community will result, driving an entrepreneurial spirit that will pave the way for small businesses and a revival of real estate investing. Englewood could become a hub of Chicago growth once again, and a prime example of resilience beyond all expectation.

Do you think this government initiative is going to help rebuild the community?  What would you build on a vacant lot if you could buy it for a dollar. Leave a comment and let us know.

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