City of Chicago approves ordinance to require registration of vacant storefronts

June 20, 2024

AuthorKevin M. Coyne

Practice AreasReal Estate

Recently, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance requiring property owners to register vacant storefronts. The ordinance takes effect in late July 2024 and requires the following:

  • Registering vacant storefronts with the Chicago Department of Buildings
  • Maintain additional liability insurance
  • Pay a registration fee of $100 dollars every six months
  • Post a notice of registration in a highly visible area that can be seen from the street or sidewalk
  • Cover or remove signage for businesses that are no longer on-site

Commercial storefronts will not be considered vacant or unoccupied if:

  • There is an active remodeling permit.
  • A remodeling permit has been applied for and is currently being reviewed.
  • The storefront is in habitable condition and is for sale or for rent as reflected on signage that is legible from the sidewalk or street and includes contact information

The last bullet point is a big one, as it will arguably help properties which are being marketed from falling within the purview of the ordinance. Not surprisingly, a number of real estate trade groups voiced objection to this ordinance as adding more bureaucracy and cost to investing in real estate. This kind of ordinance arguably makes attracting investment into Chicago more difficult. This last bullet point was made at the request of the real estate community.

There has been concern voiced that some landlords are abusing the real estate tax exemption for vacancy and are deliberately sitting on vacant space instead of filling it. Chicago aldermen suggest that registering, tracking and encouraging occupancy will help fill Chicago’s serious glut of vacant storefronts.

Chuhak & Tecson regularly handles matters that involve permitting, licensing, zoning and/or building code issues. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys if you need assistance with an issue that touches on any of these areas.

Client alert authored by Kevin M. Coyne (312 855 5441), principal.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.