Questioning Chicago’s Development-Friendly Reputation

Chicago has a reputation for being the most development-friendly city this side of Houston. But Stephen J. Smith cites restrictive zoning outside the Loop as one cause of the city’s anemic housing market.

1 minute read

April 10, 2014, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


“For pro-development types, Chicago is often thought of as something of a promised land. While it may not have Houston’s complete lack of a zoning code, the Second City is known as a much easier place to build than its coastal counterparts,” writes Stephen J. Smith.

Smith’s recent article in Next City, however, argues that outside of the Loop, Chicago’s zoning regulations are actually slowing the growth of the city’s housing stock in a manner not in keeping with the city’s reputation.

The city’s lax development regulations are often credited with keeping housing prices low. In fact, condo prices in New York City are often twice as expensive as condo prices in Chicago. But complicating the traditional narrative is the curious case of Lincoln Park, which has actually lost housing in recent years—almost apace with parts of the Southside currently engaged in a vacant lot fire sale.

Smith reminds readers: “it’s important not to forget the mid-rises and infill housing that aren’t going up in some of the most desirable, more established neighborhoods.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 in Next City

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