Skip to contents
Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

New Ordinance Makes It Harder To Turn Apartments Into Single-Family Homes Along 606 And In Pilsen

The anti-deconversion ordinance aims to interrupt the loss of cheap housing stock in the gentrifying neighborhoods.

City Council approves two measures aimed at making it difficult for apartment buildings to be converted into single family homes.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

DOWNTOWN — City Council approved a pair of ordinances that make it more difficult for apartment buildings to be converted into single-family homes near the 606 and in Pilsen.

The anti-deconversion ordinance aims to interrupt the loss of cheap housing stock through deconversions of two- to eight-flat apartment buildings.

City officials have said those buildings supply the city with naturally occurring affordable housing. As part of the measure, landlords would have to receive city approval before turning them into single-family homes.

On Tuesday, Daniel Kay Hertz, director of policy for the Department of Housing explained two-to four flats made up 35 percent of the housing stock, but those buildings were being converted into single family homes in gentrifying neighborhoods by developers or small landlords who were cashing out in the area’s rise in property values.

Chicago lost 20,000 such buildings between 2010-2016, Hertz said.

RELATED: Plan To Block Apartment Buildings From Being Turned Into Single-Family Homes Along 606 And In Pilsen Advances

During the Committee on Zoning, the ordinance introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot received support from some of her critics, including Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who represents Pilsen and recently killed a historic landmark district in his ward.

Sigcho-Lopez said the ordinance wasn’t a “silver bullet” but was a step in the right direction.

The Pilsen district covers an area bounded by Peoria Street, 16th Avenue, Western Avenue and Cermak Road, and would block single-family-home deconversions in zoning districts here more than 50 percent of a block is larger than a two-flat.

Existing single-family-homes and two-flats will be able to remain.

606 Ordinance

A deconversion ordinance covering part of The 606 outlaws single-family homes without a zoning change on blocks where more than 50 percent of the lots have “lawfully established multiple-unit buildings.”

It spans four wards in an area bound by Western Avenue, Kostner Avenue, North Avenue and Armitage Avenue.

The ordinance replaces the current demolition moratorium enacted to slow displacement along the Bloomingdale Trail. As part of the new ordinance, the moratorium will be extended until April 1, 2021.

On the east side of the 1700 block of North Talman Avenue, where there are 10 multi-unit buildings and 13 single-family homes, city officials said single-family homes would still be permitted.

On the north side of the 3500 block of West McClean Avenue, where there are eight multi-unit buildings and only six single-family homes, city officials said single-family homes would be blocked.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) said the ordinance is “one component of our strategy to preserve neighborhood character and affordability.”

Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said the ordinances represented a significant step in ensuring that residents are able to participate in the opportunities spurred by significant development, while remaining in their homes.

In a statement, Lightfoot said it’s imperative new development does not lead to displacement of longterm residents.

“Here in Chicago, development does not mean displacement. That’s why this ordinance is designed to preserve not only affordable housing in Pilsen and the 606, but also solidify our commitment to protecting the residents and their families who have called these neighborhoods home for decades,” she said.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.