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CHICAGO-Restaurateur and developer Reza Toulabi hopes to break ground in June on a $20-million, 126-unit condominium project at 1122-24 W. Catalpa Ave., along the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line elevated tracks. The one- and two-bedroom units will likely hit the market in 2005 at prices ranging from $190,000 to $300,000, Toulabi tells GlobeSt.com after receiving a favorable nod from the plan commission.

The 11-story building just east of Broadway Street will be built on a 32,016-sf vacant lot that was once part of “Gasoline Alley,” says 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith, a collection of coal yards and horse barns along the elevated train line. Toulabi’s brick-and-glass building will include multi-colored stained concrete reminiscent of historic buildings along nearby Bryn Mawr Avenue as well as the former Edgewater Beach Hotel on Sheridan Road, says Phil Levin of the department of planning and development.

Toulabi acquired the land in five years ago from Metro Toyota, an Edgewater car dealership, for $330,000, according to property records. The lot has 377 feet of frontage on Catalpa Avenue, but is only 85 feet deep.

“Believe me, it’s tough to figure out a use for this land,” says Smith, adding the project has been in the works for four years.

The city council is expected to approve a residential planned development for the project. The site is zoned B4-3, which would allow for a building just 55% of the size of Toulabi’s proposed building.

The operator of restaurants Downtown and in Edgewater says he is arranging financing for his project, which includes 181 parking spaces on the first three floors, seven floors of condominiums topped by a penthouse. Toulabi has agreed to make the 49 parking spaces on the first floor available to the public.

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