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CHICAGO-The market apparently has shifted enough for Premier Center LLC and Neumann Homes, Inc. to plan nearly 500 multifamily rental and condominium units on a two-acre West Loop site. The planned development received a favorable recommendation last Thursday from the plan commission.

The partnership that includes developer Robert Berliner acquired a five-building, 315,000-sf industrial property at 1001-51 W. Van Buren St. in 1997 for $2.1 million, according to property records. At the time, plans were to redevelop the property for commercial use, according to Tim Gloor of the department of planning and development.

Since then, multifamily development and redevelopment has occurred around the property, located on the north side of the Eisenhower Expressway, across from the University of Illinois-Chicago campus and less than a mile from the city’s Medical District. Premier Center LLC and Neumann Homes Inc. are proposing to convert the industrial buildings into 292 loft-style apartments and build a 29-story condominium tower with 198 units.

With 950 units, the West Loop submarket has the second-highest level of unsold inventory behind only the South Loop, according to Appraisal Research Counselors Ltd.’s first-quarter “Downtown Chicago Residential Benchmark Report.” It notes marketing of the 198-unit Jefferson Tower at Jefferson and Lake streets is expected to get underway this month, as well as the 132-unit 740 Fulton and 75-unit Fulton Place at 657 W. Fulton St.

The development team declined to answer questions about its proposal Thursday and did not return telephone calls. Cost figures and construction time lines were not sought by plan commission members, who spent more time quizzing the developer of a much smaller condominium project in Uptown earlier in the agenda.

The project would include 545 parking spaces, but increased traffic is not considered to be a potential problem as the site is near a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line Station as well as within walking distance of Downtown office buildings.

Although the project includes 32,000 sf of retail space, the project would be a boon for the Greektown restaurant district two blocks east.

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