Yonah Freemark

Upzoning Chicago: Impacts of a Zoning Reform on Property Values and Housing Construction

Article information

Yonah Freemark (2020). “Upzoning Chicago: Impacts of a Zoning Reform on Property Values and Housing Construction.” Urban Affairs Review 56(3), 758-789.

DOI: 10.1177/1078087418824672

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Journal website: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1078087418824672


Chicago’s land-use reform–an upzoning of parcels near transit–produced a statistically significant rise in property values.

What are the local-level impacts of zoning change? I study recent Chicago upzonings that increased allowed densities and reduced parking requirements in a manner exogenous of development plans and neighborhood characteristics. To evaluate outcomes, I use difference-in-differences tests on property transaction prices and housing-unit construction permits. I detect significant, robust increases in values for transactions on parcels that received a boost in allowed building size. I also identify value increases for residential condominiums, indicating that upzoning increased prices of existing housing units. I find no impacts of the reforms, however, on the number of newly permitted dwellings over five years. As such, I demonstrate that the short-term, local-level impacts of upzoning are higher property prices but no additional new housing construction.

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