City of Chicago selling more than 4K vacant lots for $1

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More homeowners in Chicago can now buy an empty lot for $1.

The city's Large Lots program has expanded to 33 communities on the South and West sides. More than 4,000 lots are up for grabs, but there are some restrictions.

Potential buyers must live on the same block as the vacant lot, can't use the lot for business reasons and must maintain the property. New owners must also pay real estate taxes and they can't sell it for five years.

"Holding it for five years insures that your interests and the city's interests and your fellow neighbors' interests are all aligned," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

"I've always wanted to invest in the area. I was born here, raised here, grew up here, went to elementary school here. My family still lives here." said Shacarra Westbrooks, a homeowner in the city's East Garfield Park neighborhood.

She paid $1 to buy a vacant lot down the street from her and wants to make it a meeting place and/or a private park for the neighborhood.

"It would be something for the community. Whatever I decide to do," Westbrooks said.

She was one of the first buyers in the 2014 pilot Large Lots program that has now been expanded.

Westbrooks, an event planner, bought the maximum-allowed lots in her neighborhood including a commercially zoned parcel on nearby Madison Street a few blocks from the United Center. She knows it might be worth a lot more than a dollar after five years.

"If the money comes, I'm not going to turn it down! But that's not my purpose. That's not my passion," Westbrooks said.

Proponents of the Larger Lots program said it is a win-win-win --- cleaner neighborhoods, tax revenues and higher property values.

Whether you live in the city or not, anyone who owns a house in a designated neighborhood can buy up to two vacant lots on their block for a dollar each.

If there's more than one applicant for a certain lot, the buyer is chosen in a lottery.

To see the available lots for sale, click here. The deadline to submit an application is January 31.
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