City of North Chicago
About North Chicago
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, North Chicago is the proud home to Naval Station Great Lakes, the only training command for United States Navy recruits and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center – the nation’s first fully integrated Veteran’s Affairs and Department of Defense entity.
Each year thousands of people visit the city to attend Navy recruit graduations, visit world-renowned Abbott Laboratories, receive treatment from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, attend medical school at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
This community of over 30,000 residents is proud of its racial and ethnic diversity. Historically, North Chicago was known for the large populations of Eastern European immigrants. Today, it includes a wide range of cultures and races, including African Americans, Hispanic and Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The City of North Chicago is truly an all-American community.
City of North Chicago
Neighborhood revitalization creates
healthy neighborhoods and happy residents
The City of North Chicago is committed to neighborhood revitalization and development. The city has been working diligently to address blight throughout the community with the goal of stabilizing neighborhoods, raising property values, and encouraging reinvestment in our community. Since the program began, the city has identified 300 vacant properties and through the city's efforts, 60 have been occupied and are back on the property tax rolls. To date, 19 dangerous, abandoned and blighted properties have been demolished by the city. Others have been demolished voluntarily by property owners.
"The city needed to find solutions and bring vacant and abandoned buildings into productive use and code compliance," said Alderman Kathy January, Building Committee Chairperson. "This initiative should bring about increases in property values and community pride."
The target properties were identified as being in a deteriorating state beyond repair, had remained vacant for an extended period, and were determined to have been a nuisance to the city neighborhoods. The response to this effort has been extremely positive and North Chicago will continue to work on healthy neighborhoods and happy residents.
City of North Chicago
Once a powerhouse of industry, the City began to decline in the 1980’s when manufacturing moved out of North Chicago in search of an overseas labor supply. The City has been working to stabilize and strengthen its financial position and revitalize its downtown. Much of North Chicago is federal land and untaxable, making the tax burden on private residents among the highest in Illinois. The efforts to resuscitate this once-thriving community were in full force when the city demolished all of the blighted factories and buildings on Sheridan Road, completed the environmental cleanup, and created a “shovel-ready” sites. The redevelopment efforts were then delayed due to the Global Great Recession of 2007-2010, but are now once again in full force with the recent execution of a master development agreement and letters of intent from investors. Although the city has been met with challenges, Standard & Poor's credit analyst Helen Samuelson recently stated, “We believe that North Chicago's strong to very strong budgetary performance, flexibility, and liquidity will be sustained…” and in 2016, Wallet Hub named North Chicago the second best small city in America to start a business. This distinction -- one of the best small cities to start a business -- was retained in 2017.
Vacant and abandoned buildings
During and following the Global Great Recession, North Chicago’s vacant and abandoned buildings increased. These vacant properties are an expense that the City cannot afford as these properties produce no or little property tax revenues and they reduce the value of the surrounding properties. Moreover, these properties require significant City resources. They are a crime attractor and a crime enabler. They provide concealment, cover and hiding places for criminals and their possessions. They erode a sense of community among residents and finally, they detract investment away from the City which can cripple or delay the redevelopment of our downtown. Swift, definitive action was needed.
To address the issue of vacant and abandoned buildings, the City initiated Operation Blight Busting/Project Landlord and conducted a systematic survey of every property in the City and cross-referenced the field information with the information in the City’s files. Then, a review of the City’s processes took place and new policies and procedures were implemented to streamline and improve efficiency including but not limited to the timing of the licensing and inspection of rental properties and updates to the ordinances and codes to better facilitate the program and cost recoveries. Finally, the process of getting vacant and abandoned properties to productive use was designed and implemented.
Purpose of the project
The purpose of the project is to gain an understanding of the condition of every building in the City of North Chicago and to find solutions and bring vacant and abandoned buildings into productive use and code compliance. This is done through a survey of each property, specifically focusing on code violations and creating a reliable system to track of the number of vacant and abandoned properties, the costs associated with those properties, and craft a plan of action. Then, the identification of “Action Properties” must be completed starting with those that present the greatest risk to the community. Those properties are initially put on various tracks:
Owner to repair and get the property into productive use;
Owner to demolish;