Meanwhile, hundreds of properties are being deposited every month into the city’s land bank by foreclosure-minded mortgage companies and banks who are seeking to rid their books of delinquent homes and apartments.
The process typically starts with abandonment, boarding up, and then foreclosure. But the blight and foreclosed properties are far from forgotten by the neighbors and the community.
With no hope for a resale to recoup the investment, the banker’s neglect results in abandonment of the property. The weeds grow, the windows are smashed, and the building becomes an unsafe place for homeless people to squat, a drug house, or the site of a fire.
Eventually, this scenario forces the city to raze the property and reduce the bank’s real estate tax classification from improved property to vacant land, which is taxed at a much lower level. Often the land is just donated to the city for back taxes, or picked up in the tax scavenger sale.
Typically, the abandoned building also becomes a resource for Chicago’s underground economy and is stripped of its valuable appliances, furnaces, light fixtures, copper pipe and electrical wire. Often, the urban pirates even take the hardwood floors, fireplace mantels and doors.
Even if an investor buys the abandoned building, secures it with guard dogs to protect the building’s improvements and begins to renovate the property, it sometimes isn’t a happy ending. It is not uncommon for the dogs to be poisoned and killed by the urban pirates to scavenge the profits within.
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