Humboldt Park is in. So are East Garfield Park and Woodlawn in Chicago and suburbs like Maywood, Matteson and South Holland.
The Cook County Land Bank Authority has identified 13 city neighborhoods and 13 west and south suburbs where it will aggressively buy vacant, abandoned single-family homes and small multifamily buildings and hold them, waiting for a buyer.
But other Chicago neighborhoods hard hit by the nation’s housing crisis are out. North and South Lawndale, Englewood and West Ridge are not going to get focused attention and investment from the land bank because there is “too much to overcome,” said Rob Rose, the land bank’s new executive director.
“We have to take calculated risks,” Rose said during a meeting of the land bank authority’s board Thursday. “We’re going to do it in places where there is market demand. Weaker areas need more than the land bank can provide right now.”
In some communities, the organization may partner with a local organizations but it will not go after properties on its own. It will not focus its budget on buying properties that already are part of the South Suburban Land and Development Authority. Also left off the list are communities that are recovering on their own and don’t need the land bank’s assistance.
Working with researchers, the land bank looked for areas where it believes people want to live and are willing to invest their savings as homeowners. Among the factors it looked for were shrinking residential vacancy rates, rising purchase prices and mortgage activity and community involvement.
Within the city, the communities the land bank has tagged as transitional, meaning there is potential for improvement, are all on the West, Southwest or South sides. They are Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Gage Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, South Shore, Washington Heights, Washington Park and Woodlawn. Of the estimated 33,000 vacant abandoned lots and homes in the city, 41 percent are in those 13 neighborhoods.
Seven of those communities already are part of the city’s Micro Market Recovery Program, an initiative designed to rehab vacant residential buildings and attract residents.
Suburban communities identified are Bellwood, Burbank, Chicago Ridge, County Club Hills, Forest Park, Matteson, Maywood, Melrose Park, Olympia Fields, Posen, Riverdale, South Holland and Stone Park. Those suburbs have 30 percent of the estimated 27,600 vacant, abandoned lots and properties in suburban Cook County.
Separately, the land bank, which has funding of $4.8 million, also is moving forward with two other initiatives. With funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, it has worked with community groups to identify abandoned properties that will be razed in Woodlawn, Englewood, Chicago Heights and Riverdale.
It also has bought 25 tax-delinquent properties through the county’s scavenger sale as a test case of its initiative to acquire parcels that it thinks would be attractive to developers if it were not for delinquent property taxes.