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Ten years of teardowns

Written by Samantha Kearney

What are teardowns?
In a nutshell, a "teardown" happens when an existing building is demolished to make room for a new building. Typically the old building and new building serve the same purpose. Most teardowns are single-family and multi-family homes, as seen in the interactive map below.

Chicago's teardown map is mostly yellow, because those indicate housing types based on zoning districts. From January 2006 to early March 2016, there were 1,827 teardowns in single-family zones (pale yellow), trailed by 936 teardowns in small multi-family zones (middle yellow). There were 222 teardowns of buildings in 20+ unit multi-family zones (darkest yellow), but teardowns in those areas were surpassed by teardowns in business and mixed-use districts (bright red), which came to 298. Every other zoning district had fewer than 100 teardowns. Click on the points on the map to learn more about individual projects, and to see their demolition and new construction permit details.

The following chart shows the number of days that passed after the demolition permit was issued and before the new construction permit was issued on the X axis and the number of teardown projects on the Y axis.

this chart resembles a standard bell curve, with extreme values at 200 days

Negative numbers indicate that the new construction permit was issued before the demolition permit was issued, but these permits often mention that new construction is conditional upon a demolition permit being granted next. 

The average annual cost of new construction in these teardown projects have ranged from $498,765 in 2012 to $2,774,516 in 2010, but there does not appear to be a pattern in average new construction costs per year.

However, the number of teardowns per year does have a pattern, as can be seen in the following chart.

teardowns drop from nearly 800 in 2006 to below 200 in 2009, then rebound to just over 400 in 2014 before drooping in 2015

The number of teardowns declined from 2006's 751 teardowns to 122 in 2009 as a result of the housing bubble burst, then slowly rose to 459 in 2014 before easing off slightly in 2015.

screenshot of animated teardowns map

An animated map showing teardowns popping up across Chicago shows constant activity in West Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and North Center, with other intermittently active areas including Mount Greenwood, Mckinley Park, Bridgeport, Logan Square, and Lincoln Square.

Pay attention to the years 2009 and 2010 to see what happens during the recession.

Keep reading: How teardowns affect neighborhoods

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Teardown Alert

This new blue house in Pilsen will be demolished, and replaced with a 6 unit apartment building, with a 6 car garage. This is a non-contributing address in Pilsen's historic district.

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