Cityscape's new "ARO Matrix" decodes the rules for ARO 2021

The ARO Matrix is designed to help decode the rules for Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) in Chicago. We know that the rules can be confusing, especially because there is a different ruleset for each of the five ARO areas, and we want to help make the process of calculating how much affordable housing is required as straightforward as possible.

Access the ARO Matrix directly (this is for Cityscape Real Estate Pro members only), or after looking up an address in Chicago and opening its Zoning Assessment. The 45-second video below walks through how to get there. 

Look up Chicago's new ward map in Cityscape

Chicago City Council adopted a new ward map on May 16, 2022. The new map will be effective for the 2023 city council election. Find out which ward you'll be shifted to using Address Snapshot's Surrounding Places feature. 

Look up your address now in Chicago Cityscape to see your current and future wards. 

The 30-second video below demonstrates looking up an address and using the table of contents to jump down to Surrounding Places.

New map for members: Enterprise Zones

The location of Enterprise Zones has long been a part of our Incentives Checker: Every time you look up an address in Illinois, Incentives Checker will check if there's an overlapping Enterprise Zone. 

map of the top third of Illinois showing where the Enterprise Zones are.

Common to all EZs is the incentive to waive state sales tax (6.25%) on building materials for new and rehab construction. This can be a huge savings!

In conversation with one of our members last week about a new project they were trying to close soon, we asked if they had checked for incentives. Thinking that the location probably wasn't eligible for any due to the higher-value market activity there, I advised them to check because Enterprise Zones cover a very large proportion of Chicago and include areas with lower-cost as well as higher-cost properties. 

They checked, and indeed, the property is in an EZ. Based on the project cost this has the potential to save them tens of thousands just in state sales tax. This savings assumes that they source their construction materials from Illinois retailers.

We launched a new Enterprise Zones map to show all 102 EZs across Illinois and to better inform our members of the incentives. In Chicago, for example, the application process is simple and approved within a few weeks. 

The map is for members only. If you're not a member you'll be invited to start a free trial (no credit card needed).

The 2022 scavenger sale results are in

More people successfully bid on properties in 2022 than were even registered in 2019 Chicago Cityscape now has the results of the 2022 Scavenger Sale that the Cook County Treasurer conducted in February. The level of bidding activity far surpassed the last sale in 2019; three times more propertie...

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Chicago Cityscape's first lunch break update was 4/14/22

The recorded video is live

After creating 12 new features in 2022 Q1, we decided it would be good to walk through some of them in a live demonstration. Here's our agenda for the first "lunch break update" (new name is pending):

  1. 5 mins - Everyone introduces themselves
  2. 10 mins - Talk about the ARO 2021 and how the map is integrated in Cityscape.
  3. 20 mins - Demonstrate three of the 12 new features: ShareLink, Proposed TIF-funded projects, and Businesses Snapshot
  4. 10 mins - Highlight a case study from one of our members
  5. 10 mins - live Q&A

Thank you to those who attended! This was our first time doing a live, public demonstration and we loved the discussions. 

Watch the edited recording, which is 34 minutes long. Watch this video if you want to...(skip ahead to this timestamp to watch just that portion)

  • understand Chicago Cityscape's mission (2:09)
  • see how Chicago Cityscape helps developers understand a property's ARO requirements (3:15)
  • find property in specific ARO areas (8:44) (also, there was a mention about our draft "ARO Matrix", but that was not shown in the demonstration)
  • use the new "ShareLink" feature to share *your* level of access to non-members (like your friends or colleagues) (10:36)
  • know which types of businesses are concentrated in a given area (17:05)
  • compare the number of licensed businesses between two areas (21:35)
  • peruse upcoming infrastructure and construction projects that will be partially funded by TIF (23:10)
  • Question: How do you draw a Personal Place? (32:03)

12 features for spring 2022

Chicago Cityscape never stops upgrading. We’ve heard valuable feedback from our members and Data Equity Cohort participants about data and new solutions that needed to be added to the platform. This is the first regularly occurring quarterly newsletter about new Chicago Cityscape improvements — there’s something for everyone.

We’ll also be demonstrating these features in a live webinar on Thursday, April 14, called “Lunch Break Update with Chicago Cityscape”. RSVP is required in order to get the Zoom link.

1. Share your access to non-members (new)

Members of the Real Estate Pro and Enterprise tiers can share their access, temporarily, with colleagues and clients. ShareLink currently works on Address Snapshot and Place Snapshot only.

Screenshot showing the “ShareLink” for a Place Snapshot.

Members can copy the link and share it with anyone. Recipients will need to create a free Cityscape account and they’ll have 7 days of access starting when the link was copied by the Cityscape member.

How to use it: Go to any Address or Place Snapshot and look for the “Share a link” section below the names of either snapshot. Copy the link and share!

Read about the other 11 improvements

Landmarks maps revamped

Chicago Cityscape has revamped how to find landmarks. Previously, you could only find landmarks, landmark districts, and National Register of Historic Places if those overlapped the address or Place you were looking up. 

Now, Address Snapshot and Place Snapshot have dedicated sections for finding overlapping and nearby landmarks, landmark districts, and National Register of Historic Places. The Chicago Historic Resources Survey remains a separate section.

screenshot of a map and data table showing landmarks in South Lawndale

Watch the 90 second video below to learn about the new map and data table that combines all three landmark types into one.


Additionally, we've rewritten our "Determine the historic status of a building in Chicago" Knowledge Base article to instruct members on how to use the new landmarks maps and refer readers to the relevant regulations of a landmarked building or building in a landmark district.

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