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CHICAGO-One of the latest South Loop multifamily developments may be for college students. A $130-million residence hall, to be built on a city-owned parking lot on State Street between Congress Parkway and Harrison Street, would be the largest student residence hall in the US if approved by the city council.

The 18-story University Center of Chicago residence hall would house 1,600 students as well as staff members of DePaul University, Roosevelt University and Columbia College Chicago. The schools now have little or no student housing. The not-for-profit development entity formed by the colleges, Educational Advancement Fund, also would include two stories of retail space in the 700,000-sf building. Copying an idea from City Hall, a 20,000-sf landscaped roof garden would be available from the third floor.

Educational Advancement Fund is asking for the land to be donated by the city, and plans to use tax-exempt and taxable bonds to finance construction. The donation is worth at least $9.1 million, according to the most recent property tax assessment for the 1.42-acre parcel and three-story, 142,100-sf parking garage.

The EAF hopes to have the residence hall ready for occupancy for the fall 2004 semester.

“This project reflects the increasing diversification of the Loop,” says Planning and Development Commissioner Alicia Berg. “It used to be that students came Downtown, went to their classes and then left. Not any more. We are creating twin anchors for student living, with this new residence on State and Congress and the residence hall of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on State and Randolph.”

Student housing consultant Scion Group LLC found that while student populations are increasing downtown, available housing continues to shrink with the conversion of rental buildings into condominiums.

Antunovich Associates and VOA, two Chicago architecture firms, are designing the project. Rooms would be designed for either two or four students, and floors would have study lounges and meeting areas. Room-rate packages would include furniture, telephone and high-speed Internet access.

Meanwhile, the city plans to use its quick-take powers to acquire nearly an acre of property just east of the dormitory site for improvements to two Chicago Transit Authority El tracks. The property is worth about $3.6 million, according to its most recent tax assessment.

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