CHICAGO — The city has launched a new effort to speed up the demolition of vacant buildings in hope of cutting down on crime.
Police and the city will target buildings in high-crime areas, hitting those that "serve as hubs for violence and gang activity," according to a city news release. Once the buildings are torn down, the majority of the vacant lots will be eligible for the "Large Lot" program, said Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings.
The "Large Lot" initiative allows people to buy city-owned land for $1. People buy the lots to "stabilize neighborhoods, control public access to properties and prevent loitering," according to the city.
"In doing so, the city is using every tool at its disposal to fight crime and stop gangs from using select buildings as centers for illegal activity," according to the city.
The city has identified 900 buildings that could be demolished, but it's not yet determined how many will ultimately be part of the "Large Lot" program, Simon said. Some of the soon-to-be vacant lots could be worked on by private developers, Simon said.
The 900 buildings are spread between the Calumet, Englewood, Deering and Harrison police districts.
The city has made similar efforts in the past to fast track vacant building demolitions — more than 250 were taken down in 2012 — but this project is different because the Department of Buildings and Chicago Police are targeting high-crime areas, Simons said.
The city kicked off the effort by starting to demolish three buildings at 228, 236 and 244 W. 113th St. on Tuesday.
“Given the close proximity to a new day care center, I have been diligently working with the Department of Buildings to jump start the demolition of these buildings and I am pleased these demolitions are occurring today,” Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said in a press release. “Now the day care center owner may have the opportunity to purchase these vacant lots to build a play lot and a vegetable garden for the children.”
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