Cabrini Getting Less Green: Urban Farm Chopped for Residential Building

Diagram of proposed building at 442 West Division

One of Chicago’s summer blessings are the tiny little urban farms that spring up year after year on disused plots of land across the city.

I’m a big fan of urban gardening. When I lived in Cincinnati, I grew corn in long plastic troughs on my balcony, and pumpkins that I was never able to harvest because the vines carried the fruit far into a neighboring tree. When I lived in Houston, my apartment balcony was filled with fruiting lime trees, and watermelons nestled in pantyhose slings tied to the railings. Those attracted the attention of a local television station and a countless number of small, green lizards.

City Farm at Division and Clybourn today.

City Farm at Division and Clybourn today.

Organizations like City Farm take it to the next level by turning vacant city lots into actual working farms. The produce is often planted by, and for, people living in the area. The goal is to directly impact Chicago’s “food desert” problem, and what’s left over can be sold to restaurants, hipsters, or anyone else interested in a nourishing nosh.

But recently, paperwork showed up in Chicago City Hall that makes it look like this will be the last season for one of the city’s most visible urban farms.

The paperwork seeks permissions to build an eight-story residential building on the triangle of land formed by the intersection of West Division Street, North Clybourn Avenue, and North Cleveland Avenue.

The land is currently owned by the City of Chicago, but the developer is Citydiv, based in suburban Northbrook.

City Farm at Division and Clybourn today.

City Farm at Division and Clybourn today.

The new building will be about 80 feet tall, with 82 residences on seven floors over a level of ground floor retail. Here are the specs:

  • Residences: 82
  • Parking: 78 spaces
  • Loading docks: 1
  • Lot size: 42,574 square feet
  • Retail space: 18,000 square feet
  • Building height: 80 feet
  • Architecture firm: Pappageorge Haymes

We reached out to CityFarm to see if it plans to relocate its popular urban farm to a new vacant lot nearby, but haven’t heard back yet.

Location: West Division and North Clybourn, Old Town

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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