Report: One-Third of Vacant Lots in Chicago Near Transit

Vacant lots pose challenges for the city’s goals of promoting transit-oriented development.

1 minute read

April 2, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of Chicago street with vacant lot and brick building, snow on the ground, at night.

Bruno Passigatti / Allen Park

A report from Elevated Chicago, the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University, and community groups points out that over one-third of Chicago’s vacant lots are located near “L” train stations. “The data showed more than 14,700 vacant lots in the city were close to a CTA train station as of July 2023. Nearly 74% of the lots were within predominantly Black communities.”

As Sarah Freishtat explains in the Chicago Tribune, the lots are primarily concentrated in historically Black neighborhoods, “a glaring symbol of historic disinvestment.”

The high prevalence of vacant lots is a problem for the city’s transportation agency, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the report notes. “Sometimes breeding environmental hazards and safety concerns, unmaintained vacant lots can limit how willing residents are to walk to transportation and other neighborhood amenities, shaping when and how residents take public transit and the ability of transit, often considered a neighborhood asset, to connect communities to the rest of the city.”

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