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CHICAGO-Despite outcry from preservationists within and outside the Washington Square neighborhood on the Near North Side, an $80-million condominium and townhouse project is headed to 30 West Oak St. Smithfield Properties, LLC’s plans to replace the 12-story Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine building with a 22-story, 74-unit condominium tower along with 14 townhomes got a blessing recently from the city’s plan commission.

Rob Buono of Smithfield Properties tells GlobeSt.com that the company hopes to break ground within the next year on the project, which will add units ranging from $400,000 to $2 million to the Near North Side condominium and townhouse market.

Smithfield Properties has a deal to buy the 33,882-sf site from North Chicago-based Dr. Scholl’s.

Although it has not been declared a landmark by the city, the vacant building at the northeast corner of Oak and Dearborn streets was built by Cyrus McCormick for his wife Harriett, notes Preservation Chicago president Jonathan Fine, and is worthy of a designation. However, the department of planning’s landmark division disagrees, and is supported by 42nd Ward Ald. Burton Natarus.

“It isn’t landmark quality,” Natarus says, adding rehabbing the structure was determined to be cost prohibitive. “When you landmark a building, it costs you 10 times more to repair it.”

While the city council is expected to approve a residential planned development to allow Smithfield Properties to build, Natarus says rehabbing the 12-story Scholl building also would have required a zoning change.

Smithfield Properties swayed neighbors of the Scholl building who previously objected to plans for another high-rise in their neighborhood. That includes residents of the neighboring Newberry Plaza condominium tower at 1030 N. State St., many of whom went along when Smithfield Properties scaled down the proposed condominium tower from 400 ft to 267 ft, and from 150 units to 74 units.

Nearby condominium projects, either under construction or proposed, include 23- and 60-story towers.

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