How to Get Land


There are several options for acquiring land for urban agriculture in Chicago. A few are listed here:


Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program (ANLAP)
ANLAP is a program in which a resident who own properties adjacent to a vacant lot can purchase the lot for a significantly reduced fee. Qualifications for accessing this program:

  • Purchasers must provide proof of ownership and occupancy of the property immediately adjacent to the vacant lot.
  • Proof may be provided in the form of a deed, title policy, etc.
  • The vacant lot must be zoned either R-5, R-4, R-3, R-2 or R-l.
  • The appraised, fair-market value of the lot must not exceed $20,000.
  • Minimum bids must be at least $700 (or 7 percent of the appraised value for a parcel with a value that exceeds $10,000).
  • Adjacent neighbors must not be delinquent in the payment of real estate taxes or have outstanding debts with the City of Chicago.

To begin the ANLAP process, click here.


Chicago Large Lots Program
The Large Lot Program is a City of Chicago neighborhood stabilization initiative that was developed as part of the Green Healthy Neighborhoods public planning process to help property owners, block clubs and non-profit groups in select Chicago neighborhoods to purchase City-owned land for $1 per parcel. The program is being piloted in community areas where the City owns large amounts of vacant land. Up to two lots are available per application. Applicants must own property on the same block; be current on property taxes; and have no financial obligations to the City, among other requirements.

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

One of the uses that the program identifies for these lots is Community Agriculture. To learn more and apply, visit www.largelots.org or contact Jeanne Chandler at 312.744.0605 or jeanne.chandler@cityofchicago.org. If you have acquired land through the Large Lots program and are interested in using it to grow food, please contact Billy Burdett at director@auachicago.org and see our training opportunities here and here.



Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District has been helpful for acquiring garden plots located on existing parkland in Chicago. Their website (www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/facilities/community-gardens/) has application directions, case studies of other gardens who have gone through the process, and other resources. The Park District has helped over 40 gardens sprout in Chicago.



Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA)
Formed in 2013 to address the large inventory of vacant residential, industrial and commercial property across the county, CCLBA acquires, holds, and transfers interest in real property throughout Cook County to:
  • promote redevelopment and reuse of vacant, abandoned, foreclosed or tax-delinquent properties;
  • support targeted efforts to stabilize neighborhoods;
  • stimulate residential, commercial and industrial development - all in ways that are consistent with goals and priorities established by local government partners and other community stakeholders.

CCLBA is a unit of Cook County government, funded primarily with grants, contributions and revenues from transactions. It is the largest land bank by geography in the country and is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Cook County President and Board of Commissioners.

The Land Bank Authority is very interested in transferring vacant property to urban agricultural projects, and the cost of land under its jurisdiction can be very low.
CCLBA and AUA are currently working to add vacant properties to the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project map and develop urban agriculture-specific instructions for applying. To learn more, find vacant properties, and apply, please go to www.cookcountylandbank.org.


NeighborSpace
NeighborSpace is a collaborative project started by the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. This organization helps communities interested in gardening and farming acquire lots for long-term use. An application process is required and can take anywhere from a couple months to 2 years.

Website: http://neighbor-space.org/ | Contact: info@neighbor-space.org



Redevelopment Agreement with the City of Chicago/Transfer of Land
The City of Chicago owns many vacant lots and may be interested in transferring some of this land if the project is in the interest of the neighborhood in which it is located. Some of the steps needed to get land through an RDA:

  • Meet with the alderman and get his/her support
  • Conduct a community meeting to get neighborhood support and buy-in for the project
  • Submit an official request to the City Department of Housing and Economic Development
  • Negotiate a Redevelopment Agreement that will stipulate all of the conditions that must be met for the transfer of city-owned land.

For more details contact Harry Rhodes at Growing Home, hrhodes@growinghomeinc.org



Shared Earth
Shared Earth is a land-sharing website that connects landowners with interested gardeners and farmers. Join the network today and find some land in your neighborhood!

Website: http://www.sharedearth.com

Connecting with landowners willing to let their land to be used for agricultural purposes can also always be done the old-fashioned way: finding land, finding out who owns it, and starting a conversation!