chicago, large lots, real estate, sophisticated spender

An Inside Look: How I Bought 2 Empty Lots in Chicago For $1

Hello Sophisticated Spenders!


I am the proud owner of 2 empty lots on the south side of Chicago.

This was NOT easy.

The city of Chicago has a Large Lots Program.

Here are the deets:

“If you own land on the South or West sides of Chicago, you can buy up to two vacant lots from the City of Chicago for $1 a lot. The lots must be on the same block as land you already own. Individuals and organizations can apply but churches are not eligible. Only one application will be accepted per property deed.”

I own a duplex on the south side of Chicago!

I submitted my application on December 27, 2016.

I received a “thanks for applying” email.  Then…

Fearing that this was not enough, I also emailed the person who was in charge of the program.  I told her who I was and that I grew up in the place that I was proudly able to purchase when the original owners were selling and had plans for my lots (if approved).

I heard nothing!

Then I received a generic “thanks for applying” email which said:

The application window closed on January 31st and the city had received 2,842 applications!

One month…nothing.

Two months…


THREE months…

On April 28th, I received another email:

“Over the last 12 weeks we have been reviewing the 4500 requests for property we received from the 2800 Large Lot applications. Our initial review was to confirm applicants provided a deed for the property they own and that they own property on the same block as the City-owned lot. We have reviewed your application for the property listed below and can confirm that you meet the criteria necessary to proceed to the next stage of the review process.

Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing applications to determine which lots will be included in a lottery. Just a reminder, a lottery is triggered when more than one application was received for a lot. The Large Lot Program does give priority to the adjacent property owner if they applied. You will be emailed if the lot you applied for will be included in the lottery and will be provided with details on when the lottery will be held in May.”

Oh no!

A lottery!

One month…

Then I heard nothing…

Two months..

July 28th they sent this:

Congratulations! The City is moving forward with your Large Lot application. The next step in the process is to collect an Economic Disclosure Statement (EDS) and Principal Profile Form (PPF) from each applicant. The EDS helps us to identify you, and the PPF provides us with the information necessary to make sure you do not owe money to the City.”


Then nothing!

One month…


Two months…


Three months…

FINALLY on October 28, I get this…

“On Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 the Chicago City Council granted approval for DPD to sell nearly 1000 lots through the Large Lot Program! This is the final stage of the application process- It’s Closing Time!

YES! It is closing time!

I receive yet another email on October 31st saying:

“Large Lot Closing Date and Time”

Closing will be on Monday,  November 13th!

Yaaaay!  At least I have 2 weeks notice.

I buy a cheap ticket (thanks to Spirit Airlines-click here to see why I love them) and try to contain my excitement.

BUT as a former realtor, I know better.

You do NOT get excited until you are sitting at the closing table and all checks and keys have passed hands.

And, of course, on November 8th, I get another email…

“Large Lots Closing Delay”

Yadda yadda yadda, our apologies, whatever man.

I have to pay a cancellation fee for said cheap flight.

The next email comes on November 14th saying:

closing is on November 21st!

Only 5 days notice, I’ll take it!

At this point, I just want my deeds dude.

I buy another cheap ticket with my leftover Spirit funds and I’m on my way!

Planes, trains and automobiles.


I fly into O’Hare, catch the L to downtown, my mom and sister pick me up and we eat a quick breakfast, then they drop me off downtown for closing.

chicago, large lots, sophisticated spender

My head is pretty much about to explode at this point because I am SO excited.

They explain all of the rules to us, we are called to the closing table by number, and about an hour later, it’s all over!

So the entire process took 11 months!

I have no idea what I’ll do with the lots.

For now I have to: build a fence, put up proper signage and keep the grass cut.

They plan on doing the same thing in this spring.


Here’s their website so you can follow along:

PLEASE share this with your Chicago peeps so they don’t miss out on the next round!


Any ideas?

What should I do with the lots?

I was thinking maybe community garden.


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