By Mary Ellen Podmolik

The brick bungalow in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood doesn’t look like much from the outside, with its windows covered with plywood, silver tape dangling from a second-floor eave and a blue tarp stretching across much of its roof. Its interior looks even worse.

But unlike a similarly boarded bungalow two doors away and tens of thousands of other vacant homes across the city and suburbs, this one and another in the Avalon Park neighborhood are special. They will be the first vacant houses to be overhauled and put up for sale as part of the Cook County Land Bank Authority’s ambitious, long-awaited effort to stabilize communities by ridding them of eyesores and attracting new residents and businesses. […]