We worked with the City of Chicago and neighborhood groups to improve and scale up a program for selling land to residents.
The Large Lot Program is a housing land use approach that was developed as part of the Green Healthy Neighborhoods public planning process. The program was piloted in community areas where the City owns large amounts of vacant land and eventually opened up to large areas of the south and west sides of Chicago. The core goals of the program are:
- Give local residents greater control over vacant land in their neighborhood
- Dispose of some of the City-owned land in these neighborhoods efficiently, which returns the land to the tax rolls
- Create wealth in the community by allowing owners to sell land after five years
- Increase safety, build community, and raise home values by creating more neighborhood-level investment
LargeLots.org was originally built to make the process of purchasing City-owned land through this program easier for residents. It was initiated by Demond Drummer at Teamwork Englewood, built by DataMade, and funded by LISC Chicago with support from the Boeing Corporation, and the Knight Foundation for LISC’s OpenGov for the Rest of Us project.
On December 10, 2014, LargeLots.org was officially adopted by the City of Chicago as part of the Large Lot Program. See the passed ordinance.
As of Spring 2020, the Large Lots program has successfully sold 1,250 city-owned lots.
Resident-focused government digital service
LargeLots.org was designed as a digital-first, resident-focused website. The guiding principle was to make applying for a lot as simple as possible. Through careful policy and application design, applicants were freed from many of the steps typical of applications for government services. We were able to move other steps until after the applicant had been screened by City staff, making the first step as easy to take as possible.
Over the course of many neighborhood pilots, DataMade worked with the City of Chicago, LISC and community partners to refine and simplify the application process. The end result is a one page application that can be completed on a desktop, tablet or phone in under 5 minutes.
The Large Lots application
Streamlined application review process
The popularity of the Large Lots program required the City to change how they reviewed applications in order to meet the volume of applications.
DataMade worked with City of Chicago staff to build a custom review interface that allowed staff to quickly review each applicant and move them through an 11 step process.
Reviewing Large Lots applicants
Reviewing one example Large Lot application
Removing barriers for residents
As more applicants were reviewed, new bottlenecks in the City’s processes were discovered, including the difficulty for individuals in filling out the City’s required Electronic Disclosure Statement (EDS). This form, which was made for government vendors was a huge hurdle for Large Lots applicants.
DataMade created a custom EDS application that Large Lots applicants could fill quickly and easily fill out. The resulting information was then processed and passed directly to the City’s online EDS platform for submission. The results of this application led to some impressive outcomes:
- 94% percent of users who started the form, completed the form.
- 95% percent of users who completed the form, did so in under 20 minutes.
- Roughly 25% of users who completed the form, did so on a mobile device.
The Custom Large Lots Economic Disclosure Statement Portal
- Lot by lot, reviving Chicago's many Englewoods - Chicago Tribune | June 12, 2018
- New Large Lot owner to use property to build an early learning center in Englewood - City of Chicago | June 3, 2018
- Chicago's Large Lots Program Offers Vacant Lots For $1 - CBS Chicago | May 18, 2018
- Chicago selling 3000-plus properties through $1 vacant lot program - Chicago Tribune | May 17, 2018
- Chicago selling 3200 vacant lots for just $1 - WGN TV | May 17, 2018
- City of Chicago to expand $1 lot program to 4,000 vacant properties - Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago | Nov 29, 2016
- En venta miles de lotes en Chicago por tan solo un dólar - Telemundo Chicago | Nov 29, 2016
- City of Chicago Selling More Than 4K Vacant Lots For $1 - Charles Thomas, ABC 7 Chicago | Nov 29, 2016
- Speculative development: Here’s what you can build on your new $1 “Large Lot” - Steven Vance, Chicago Cityscape | Nov 29, 2016
- Salen a la venta más de 4,000 lotes en Chicago por un dólar - Univision | Nov 29, 2016
- Chicago selling 4,000 vacant lots for $1 starting today - WGNtv | Nov 29, 2016
- Emanuel selling 4,000 vacant lots in 33 neighborhoods for $1 each - Fran Spielman, Chicago Suntimes | Nov 29, 2016
- Chicago Expands Program to Sell Residents Vacant Lots for $1 - Shibani Mahtani, The Wall Street Journal | Nov 29, 2016
- More Than 4,000 Vacant Lots on Sale for $1 in Chicago - NBC Chicago | Nov 29, 2016
- You Can Buy Lots For $1 In More Than 30 Neighborhoods On South, West Sides - Kelly Bauer, DNAinfo | Nov 29, 2016
- 4,000 vacant lots on sale for $1 to Chicago homeowners - Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune | Nov 28, 2016
- HURRY, Auburn Gresham $1 Large Lot Purchase Program Ends May 15th! - Auburn Gresham Portal | May 11, 2016
- Large Lots land sale program expands to the Auburn Gresham community - The Chicago Crusader | Feb 3, 2016
- City's Dollar Lot Program Moves to the Auburn Gresham Area - AJ LaTrace , Curbed Chicago | Feb 3, 2016
- Chicago Large Lots Program Offers Property in Auburn Gresham for $1 - Andrea V. Watson, DNAinfo | Feb 2, 2016
- Chicago to sell 306 more lots for $1 - Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune | Sep 11, 2015
- $1 Property Sale Program Expanding to Roseland, Pullman - Joe Ward, DNAInfo Chicago | Sep 11, 2015
- The City Is Selling More Vacant Lots For A $1 Each - Kate Shepherd, Chicagoist | Sep 11, 2015
- Welcome to the Open Data Movement’s Turbulent Teenage Years - Andrew Zaleski, Next City | Jan 12, 2015
- Residents get behind $1 city lot program - Mary Ellen Podmolik, Chicago Tribune | Jan 7, 2015
- City of Chicago Selling Vacant Lots for $1 - Paul Meincke, ABC 7 Chicago | Dec 19, 2014
- Englewood Lots Bought for a Buck Cheered by Mayor, Plan Expands to Austin - Ted Cox, DNAinfo | Dec 19, 2014
- City Expands $1 Vacant Lot Purchase Program - CBS 2 Chicago | Dec 19, 2014
- Crafting Civic Tech: A Kickstarter Guide for Community Collaboration on Civic Technology Laurenellen McCann | Nov 3, 2014
- Chicago Is Selling Vacant Lots for $1 - Keidra Chaney, The Open Standard | Oct 14, 2014
- More than 322 Lots Sold For $1 in Englewood - ABC 7 Chicago | Oct 8, 2014
- When Technology and Policy Work Together: Large Lots in Chicago (video) - Demond Drummer and Derek Eder, Code for America Summit | Sep 23, 2014
- 'Large Lots' program expanding in Chicago - Alderman Walter Burnett interview on WBEZ Tech Shift | Jul 31, 2014
- Large Lots and Double Dutch - Tina Harbin and Demond Drummer interview on the Barber Shop Show | Jul 25, 2014
- For Sale: Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each - David Schaper | Jul 2, 2014
- Large Lots 2.0 - Derek Eder, DataMade | Jul 1, 2014
- Largelots.org – A working app for the Englewood Neighborhood - Christopher Whitaker, Smart Chicago Collaborative | Apr 29, 2014
- Local hackers raise awareness through community-focused websites - Jennifer Wolan, The Columbia Chronicle | Apr 28, 2014
- How LargeLots.org became a reality - Chris Hagan, WBEZ Chicago Public Data | Apr 18, 2014
- Hackers fight neighborhood blight - Aysha Butler and Demond Drummer interview on WBEZ Tech Shift | Apr 17, 2014
- Empty Lots for Sale in Chicago - Brandis Friedman, WTTW Chicago Tonight | Apr 17, 2014
- Chicago-owned residential lots sell for $1 in Englewood, Washington Park, Woodlawn - Ben Bradley, ABC 7 Chicago | Apr 10, 2014
- Here’s How to Buy a City-Owned Lot in Englewood for Only $1 - AJ LaTrace, Curbed Chicago | Apr 7, 2014
- Website Helps Residents Buy $1 Vacant Lots - Patrick Barry, LISC Chicago | Apr 4, 2014
- Teamwork Englewood Launches LargeLots.org - Demond Drummer, Teamwork Englewood | Apr 4, 2014
- The Launch of LargeLots.org - Derek Eder, DataMade | Apr 4, 2014