In 2017 over 1200 demolition permits were issued in Chicago. After I was unable to easily find out where these were happening I decided to just pull the data myself and map them out for everyone's amusement. The resulting map below is interactive: the icon in the upper left corner reveals an interactive legend, you can zoom in and out, you can click on the balloons and get details about the demolition, and the icon in the upper right corner allows you to see a full screen version of the map. If you study the map a bit you can get some insight into what is going on in Chicago.
For instance, when you see lots of teardown activity in high income or gentrifying neighborhoods it's a pretty sure bet that each demolition is going to be followed by new construction. However, in the lowest income neighborhoods it's more likely that the demolitions simply represent the elimination of a problem building with no replacement on the horizon. It really is a tale of two cities.
So, as you would expect, Logan Square and West Town have a lot of teardown activity but Lincoln Park and Lake View also have quite a bit still going on. However, not so much in the Near North Side which just doesn't have much opportunity left. Also, notice that on the north side there are almost bands of teardown activity that parallel the lakefront as the economics probably drive particular distances from the lake.
One of the big surprises for me is the total lack of demolition activity in Pilsen. With all the talk of gentrification and the fact that many of Pilsen's buildings are poorly constructed/ maintained I expected to see a lot more activity there but that's just not the case. Not sure what to make of that.
And then as you go further south and west you see clusters of demolition activity that represent problem buildings that are finally being dealt with. For instance, there is a huge cluster around Englewood and West Englewood that will unlikely be followed by any new development.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he's the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.