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CHICAGO-Aldermen will get a favorable recommendation from the city’s plan commission for the latest South Loop residential development proposal, one that caters to a younger clientele. Rather than young professionals, future residents at 507-51 S. State St. will mostly be students at three Downtown colleges and universities in what could be the largest student dormitory in the US.

The $130-million project is being developed by the Educational Advancement Fund, Inc., a non-profit corporation made up of Columbia College, DePaul University and Roosevelt University, whose combined 25,000 students could find lodging in the Downtown dorm. The 19-story residence hall, slated for occupancy by the fall 2004 semester, will be built on 1.4 acres that is now used by the city as a parking lot. The first two floors will have 34,000 sf of retail space.

“One of the principles for the East Loop was strengthening the academic core along Congress Parkway,” says assistant planning and development commissioner Jack Swenson.

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.

Another popular new principle incorporated into Educational Advancement Fund’s plan is a half-acre landscaped garden on a third-floor rooftop area. It is similar to one atop city hall, which is off limits to the general public, as well as one included in plans for a north suburban Evanston residential project.

Antunovich Associates and VOA, two Chicago architecture firms, are designing the project.

Besides winning support from 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus, as well as meeting zoning and tax increment financing district requirements, the project offers a plus in terms of a minimal increase in traffic, planners note. “Few residents will have cars,” Swenson says.

The city is writing down most of the cost of the land, worth an estimated $9.1 million.

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