Largelots.org – A working app for the Englewood Neighborhood

On the OpenGov Hack Night on April 15th, Demond Drummer presented at OpenGov Hack Night about the Large Lots Program. This city program is designed to allow residents to purchase vacant lots in their neighborhoods for just a single dollar in an effort to help revitalize the neighborhood.

Hack Nights

The Large Lot program allows the city to transfer the vacant lots in the Green Healthy Neighborhood Program area to nonprofits or residents that own property in the same block as the vacant property.

Here’s Deputy Commissioner of Buildings Kathy Dickhut explaining the program:

The program was designed with community feedback in mind. Teamwork Englewood and Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) spearheaded the community outreach around the program. Teamwork Englewood’s Demond Drummer explains below.

To get the program launched required a tremendous amount of community organizing and planning.

The site was built by Chicago Civic Startup DataMade as part of LISC-Chicago’s OpenGov for the Rest of Us  project. Fueled by freshly released Cook County parcel data and extensive knowledge of how to apply to purchase a lot, the site provides all the information needed for residents to purchase large lots. Here’s Demond explaining how the site works:

Derek Eder of Datamade also spoke explaining some of the more technical details of the site.

And as always, the presenters answered questions from the audiance about the program.

Press

The Largelots program was featured in a number of press publications including:

Results of Largelots.org 

This round of the Large Lots program was a pilot. In the short time the application period was open the City received over 400 applications to purchase lots. The site itself received over 6,300 pageviews.

More importantly, a great many number of vacant lots will now be purchased and used by people in the neighborhoods.  Vacant and abandoned buildings remain a thorny problem for the city and initiatives like this are a great step towards solving them.

Additionally, apps like these show that there is a marketplace for civic technology working in tandem with city governments and the non-profit sector.