Chicago Codes
New Highland Park Ordinance promoting remodeling over teardowns

The Highland Park City Council agreed on a measure in June that gives bonuses of three to five percent square footage to residents who opt for remodeling their existing homes over demolition and reconstruction. The ordinance, developed over two years by the Plan Commission, "Is an attempt to encourage the preservation of our existing housing stock," said Mayor Michael Belsky, "and maintain the character of our neighborhoods."

Reconstruction can be cheaper than remodeling, and homeowners needn't worry about bringing an older house up to code. As a result, small, more affordable homes are disappearing in the northern suburb, prompting the City Council to pass the ordinance, in hopes of retaining some of the village's older character.

"We get about sixty teardowns per year," Community Development Director Michael Blue said. "There's been one for about every three new additions that are built." The ordinance applies to homes built prior to 1990, and offers a three percent increase for lots under 10,000 square feet and five percent for lots over 10,000 square feet, not to exceed 1,250 square feet. The ordinance takes effect on August 30.