What predicts the demand and sale of vacant public properties? Urban greening and gentrification in Chicago

Alessandro Rigolon, William P. Stewart, Paul H. Gobster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many post-industrial U.S. cities have developed programs to promote the greening of publicly-owned vacant lots, including initiatives in which homeowners can purchase nearby lots and turn them into yards or community gardens. These initiatives can result in greener landscapes in marginalized communities, but we know little about the spatial patterns of vacant land disposition and whether demand for and sale of publicly-owned lots are stronger in gentrifying neighborhoods. We examined the Chicago Large Lot Program and used neighborhood sociodemographic, environmental, and safety factors to predict the demand and sale of vacant lots. We found that the demand for Large Lots was significantly higher in tracts showing early signs of gentrification between 2000 and 2015 (those with higher increases of college graduates and White residents) and for tracts located closer to downtown. Also, the percentage of Large Lots sold was significantly larger in areas closer to downtown and farther from Lake Michigan but not associated with gentrification, which might be due to neighborhood political forces seeking to retain public control of vacant lots in gentrifying neighborhoods. Although other studies show that urban greening precedes gentrification, our findings suggest that the demand for urban greening might also follow early gentrification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102948
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Environmental gentrification
  • Legacy cities
  • Urban green space
  • Urban vacancy
  • Vacant land

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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