Major zoning updates for PMDs

We just launched major zoning updates to Chicago Cityscape to enable our members to find property in Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs), understand zoning permissions, and understand the difference between PMD subareas. 

Planned Manufacturing Districts were established in 1988. Eventually, 14 additional PMDs were created but Clybourn Corridor – the first – has since been dissolved. PMDs cannot be rezoned to other classifications but parts of them can be repealed. This steady zoning classification, and the limited variety of allowed uses, keeps land values low, making it easier for businesses that require large areas of land to afford to stick around. 

Prior to today, Chicago Cityscape provided very limited information to its members about PMDs and the properties within them, but more of our members have expressed interest in these areas. (Specifically, we have gathered feedback from CRE brokers and zoning attorneys that supported developing these updates.)


Here's a summary of what you can now do or see on Chicago Cityscape:

  • List and map all Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs). Then, in any PMD's Place Snapshot page you can use Property Finder to locate a property that meets your needs.
  • List and map all PMD subareas (each subarea has a different list of allowed zoning uses) - We have PMD subareas for the first time, and when you look at the Place Snapshot for a PMD subarea, there's are two handy links: one to the "parent" PMD, to show the combined boundary, and the second to the other subarea.

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Additionally, we've updated the maps for the PMDs and their subareas:

  • Updated boundaries for all PMDs that changed in the last few years (some PMDs, like Kinzie, were modified due to "modernization" of the boundaries based on changes in the real estate market; others changed because of new Planned Developments being carved out, like the new Lagunitas brewery in the Pilsen PMD)
  • Chicago Cityscape is keeping a copy of the previous boundaries for all PMDs that changed in the last few years (for the reasons described above). You'll see these labeled as "Prior to [year]". A note on that newer PMD's Place Snapshot page will indicate what changed to create the current boundary. 

New data and filters for Chicago-owned property

We make it really easy to find Chicago-owned property, and thanks to new data provided by the city, it's easier than ever to identify which department or agency is a particular property's manager. 

Browse Chicago-owned property by itself

Look up any Place Snapshot and scroll down to Chicago-owned properties. Here you can see all of the Chicago-owned property in that area and filter by status (whether it's still owned by the city) or by managing organization (housing, planning, fleet & facility management, CDOT, etc.).

Screenshot: You can now filter by "managing organization". The particular properties shown were sold via the Chicago Department of Planning & Development's Large Lots program, which sells vacant lots to neighboring property owners for $1.

Find Chicago-owned property that meets specific criteria

The second way to find Chicago-owned property is to use Property Finder in a Place Snapshot. This way you can add filters like current zoning and proximity to transit.

Once you've selected a Place Snapshot, click on the "Property Finder" button, then look for "Chicago-owned properties" in the "Special filters" list. This filter will be combined with the other filters you choose. 

Sales comps: Get a quick summary + see who's buying and selling

We published two enhancements to our existing Property Sales section, and it's live for both Place Snapshots (areas) and Address Snapshots (addresses and parcels). Our Property Sales data is based on all transactions reported to the Illinois Department of Revenue per the Real Estate Transfer Tax filing rules. This means we have all residential, commercial, and industrial transactions in one place, while most other real estate platforms focus on a single sector. 

The first enhancement shows summary statistics for all of the property sales in view: the average and the median sale price. Change the filters or show more sales at a time and the two stats will update instantly. 

Screenshot caption: At the bottom of the Property Sales table are the average and median summary statistics. For this particular Address Snapshot, the median sale price for all properties within 250 feet from January to March 2021 was $445,000 (for properties with a sale price greater than $0).

The second enhancement counts the number of property sales for each buyer and seller in a Place Snapshot or within 1/2 mile of an Address Snapshot. This way you can see who's buying and selling the most properties. Not only can this be used to find potential buyers and sellers of your own properties, it's also a way for people to monitor potentially predatory real estate practices in their neighborhoods.   

Screenshot caption: When you load Property Sales, there's a new Property Sales summary table below it that shows the names of buyers and sellers in the selected period. For this particular Place Snapshot, there were 1,031 buyers and sellers who bought and sold 555 properties in the Albany Park community area in 2020.


Purchased an Address Snapshot? We just upgraded it

We've made some improvements to Address Snapshots on Chicago Cityscape, as well as the "additional snapshots" that come with membership. These changes are also available to anyone who's purchased an Address Snapshot à la carte. This is another example of how we're constantly improving the value of our service. 

Changes within Address Snapshot include (changes apply to Chicago properties only unless otherwise noted): 

  1. Whether the property is eligible to have an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)
  2. Whether property has unused zoning capacity and could add housing without a zoning change
  3. Chicago's 2021 updates to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance are now part of Zoning Assessment
  4. Fair Market Rents (as calculated by HUD) for the local ZIP Code (applies in all of Illinois)
  5. Whether the property is in one of the new "predominance of the block" areas near the 606/Bloomingdale Trail and in part of Pilsen
  6. Property sales data has been updated through March 30, 2021 (applies in all of Cook County)

screenshot of "additional snapshots" section of the Address Snapshot

Changes in the "additional snapshots":

  1. Environmental Snapshot: Energy usage data for buildings required to participate now has 2019 data, and shows new data (water usage, Chicago energy rating, and Energy Star score). 
  2. Land Use Snapshot: Minor improvements here in speed and design.
  3. Transportation Snapshot: Major improvements, to show all nearby transit options, Divvy bike stations, and links to analysis about the frequency of service at each transit stop. Plus, information about where people who live nearby go to work, and where people who work nearby go home after work. 
  4. Lending & Investment Snapshot: We added new demographics (including income) as well as maps of three publicly-funded project categories (TIF, SBIF, and NOF). 

When you re-load the Address Snapshot you purchased, look for the "additional snapshots" section. Find your purchases here.

If you want continuous access to this information about any property in Chicago and Cook County, consider subscribing to a Cityscape Real Estate Pro membership. Use coupon code kezLeXsx to save 10% for new memberships for up to 12 months. 

Cityscape integrates ARO 2021 map

City Council adopted revisions to the ARO, or Affordable Requirements Ordinance, a law that mandates housing developers set aside some of their units and rent them affordably. It does away with pilot areas and organizes the city into 5 geographies, which are now on Cityscape.

Read a summary of the changes on Elrod Friedman's (a law firm) website

We've annotated the screenshot below to highlight these changes.

Look up ARO information with Address Snapshot, scroll down to "Zoning Assessment" and click the "Expand ARO" button (the next screenshot shows what that looks like).

The map below shows the five geographies. 


Amenities & Social infrastructure gets major overhaul

We updated our Amenities & Social infrastructure database today with nearly 400 additional locations representing our selected categories. 

New locations

This update included 193 locations obtained from OpenStreetMap – 90 additional restaurants, 13 non-profit offices, 65 convenience stores, 24 banks, 21 health clinics, 7 supermarkets and more. 

Secondly, we added 192 federally-qualified health centers in Cook County. We added this based on a suggestion from a member who needed to know where these were in relation to the properties they acquire for long-term affordable housing. 

Thirdly, we updated the Chicago Public Schools locations, removing four schools that CPS closed on July 1, 2020 (Frazier ES, Chicago Virtual ES/HS, Foundations MS/HS, and Hope HS).

While Google Maps has the largest database of places in Chicagoland, only ours can be filtered by area (useful for doing market analysis, creating listing brochures, and assessing the value of a property) and downloaded. Our map will also summarize and count the number of locations in each category. 

Get a summary of the amenities & social infrastructure in any given Place Snapshot (including ones your draw yourself).

It can always improve so send your suggestions for new businesses or locations that are closed and need to be removed. 

What else is in the overhaul?

As for that overhaul promised in the headline, we made two big changes:

  1. All locations show related icons - a coffee mug for a café or bakery, a heartbeat for a health clinic, and fries for a fast food restaurant (see the screenshot below). 
  2. Amenities & Social infrastructure is integrated in 100% of our Place Snapshots and every Personal Place that you draw yourself. The screenshot of Little Village below shows 318 locations, including 124 restaurants!

Screenshot showing the new icons

Screenshot showing all of the amenities in Little Village


Demolitions Tracker updated with new design, new charts

People use Demolitions Tracker to know what buildings in Chicago are scheduled for demolition, and to see how many demolition permits have been issued each year. 

We've made three changes to improve both use cases!

  • Like our main Building Permits Browser, the Demolitions Tracker map and table are now side by side for easier viewing. 

Screenshot: The map and data table are now side by side. This particular demolition permit is by Metra to make room for a new train station and parking lot in Auburn Gresham.

  • Filter the demolition permits by time period, including a set number of days, or a specific year. 
  • Charts are improved: See four years at once, download the data, and they're bigger.


New data: Environmental permits for Chicago addresses

Last April, we added environmental *inspections* data for Chicago addresses, and we promised that the *permits* data would be added within a week. The goal was to help environmental justice organizations and residents understand what point source air pollution they could expect in their neighborhood. 

Additionally, adding the environmental data was a response to the disastrous implosion of the smoke stack at the former Crawford generating station so that people could be alerted through the Address Snapshot notifications. 

Looking up environmental inspections and environmental permits is a two-step process:

  1. First, look up an Address Snapshot by searching for any address or PIN in Chicago.
  2. Then, scroll down and click on "Environmental Snapshot". A new tab will open where you can see environmental-oriented data about and around the location you looked up.

SSA boundaries have been updated

We've updated our Places database to show the expanded boundaries of the following Special Service Areas (Chicago's name for business improvement districts):

Additionally, SSAs 40 (Michigan Ave-Roseland) and 41 (103rd St-Roseland) were combined into new SSA 71 (Roseland). The maps for SSA 40 and SSA 41 were marked as "dissolved". 

Several SSA managers (which are often Chambers of Commerce) use Chicago Cityscape to find new businesses in their districts, and keep a list of property owners. If you're interested, contact us for a demonstration.

This also updates the data for Incentives Checker.

Proposed Projects is even more insightful

We designed Proposed Projects earlier this year to help lead gen leaders in Chicago (business development, sales, account managers) fine tune their sales funnel and paring back information to get to the core: What is the project scope, what is its timing, and who's building it. 

We've made two changes that do a better job of that core idea:

  1. The Proposed Project details page tells you the project's current stage 
  2. The same details page says whether permits have been issued

These two changes are important for all lead gen leaders because different businesses are looking to connect with the project builders at different stages. Some are ready to contact the proposer as soon as an application has been filed with City Hall, others can wait until it's approved, while still others don't need to contact anyone until after a building permit has been issued and the building is under construction. 

This screenshot shows the updated Proposed Projects details page – look at "Stages of Proposed Projects" at the bottom. This particular project's zoning change application was approved by City Hall on February 19, 2020, and the necessary renovation permit was approved on April 8, 2020.

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