CHICAGO-Grand Plaza has officially broken ground. The multi-use project will include, 105,000 sf of retail, 1,000 parking spaces and 764 upscale apartments in two towers in the heart of the River North neighborhood of Chicago’s Central Business District.

Several elected and city officials joined developers from the Cataldo/Marovitz Group, US Equities Realty LLC, Magellan Development Group and Near North Properties to participate in the ground-breaking.

The last of eight River North parcels to be sold by the American Medical Association, the Grand Plaza site is currently considered to be one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Chicago’s CBD. The property’s value, particularly its retail potential, has increased significantly with the opening of a nearby Nordstrom’s and the planned redevelopment of the Medinah Temple across the street as the nation’s first stand-alone Bloomingdale’s Home Store. The property includes 360 ft. of frontage on both Ohio Street and Grand Avenue and 220 ft. on State and Dearborn streets. Over 15 million cars pass the site on Ohio Street each year. The Grand Plaza will be the first retail complex on Ohio between the Kennedy Expressway (I-90 and I-94) and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile–Michigan Avenue.

The Grand Plaza’s five-level parking deck should be completed by November 2001, in time for that year’s holiday shopping season. Its two level retail development is scheduled to open in spring 2002. The rental apartments will be ready for move-in during summer 2002. The two residential towers will include studios, one- and two- bedroom units and three-bedroom duplexes. A 57-story tower will include 500 residences. The 37-story tower will total 264 units.

The area surrounding the Grand Plaza has experienced enormous growth in recent years. More than 65,000 residents now live within a one-mile radius of the property. It has been reported that an additional 3,000 new River North households are planned within blocks of the development. Camille Julmy, vice chairman of US Equities, will handle the leasing of the retail space.

William A. Marovitz, one of the developers and a former Illinois state senator, noted that the Grand Plaza’s rental apartments will be in great demand, given their location and a paucity of rental units currently available.

Magellan Development president Joel Carlins, currently developing several River North properties, and James Loewenberg of Near North Properties will lead the residential development. The Grand Plaza will offer residents a variety of amenities including a health club, running track, party rooms, sundeck, and year-round pools, in addition to parking and the building’s own retail offerings. Near North Properties will market, lease and manage the rental apartments.

Loewenberg + Associates serves as project architect. Anthony Belluschi of Belluschi/OWP&P Architects designed the exterior facade. James McHugh Construction serves as general contractor.

Bank of America is providing construction financing. Bank of America, NA, as administrative agent, and Banc of America Securities LLC, as sole lead arranger and book manager, assembled a syndicate of banks that included Fleet Bank, Key Bank, LaSalle Bank, US Bank, and National City Bank.

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