CHICAGO-A two-tower, $250-million condominium project will be built over the next five years on arguably the most prime piece of undeveloped Downtown real estate. The nealry one-acre site at 600 N. Lake Shore Dr. is just west of Navy Pier, and has remained undeveloped despite various ideas since 1985 and an unobstructed view of Lake Michigan.

Belgravia Group and Sandz Development will build 401 condominiums in a 40-story building on the north side of the site and a 46-story building to the south. Construction is expected to take five years, and begin with the north tower. The project got a favorable recommendation, albeit with a rare dissenting vote, from the plan commission Thursday.

Plans were approved by the city in 1985 for a 79-story building with 650 multifamily rental units and 350 hotel rooms, as well as four floors of office space. That project would have been 50% larger than the proposal by 600 Lake Shore Drive, LLC, the entity formed by Belgravia Realty Group and Sandz Development for their building.

Most recently, plans were approved in 2000 for a 49-story, 252-unit building that also failed to advance off the drawing board. Belgravia Group and Sandz Development is buying the property from Skokie-based the Alter Group, which has owned the site since 1987.

Nonetheless, the project was opposed by residents of neighboring condominium buildings as well as the active Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. Besides dwarfing nearby buildings including the W hotel as well as Belgravia Realty Group’s 530 N. Lake Shore Dr., opponents claim the project will cast a late-afternoon shadow over the Ohio Street beach, as well as increase traffic.

“I don’t know what more the developer can do,” says 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus. “That area is the heaviest zoned area in Chicago …. This is where the high-rise buildings are being built.”

Belgravia Group president David Ruttenberg tells prices will range from $400,000 for one-bedroom units to up to $1.3 million for three-bedroom units. “We anticipate this will be a very successful project. We have a lot of interest,” says Ruttenberg, adding the developers have their financing and equity in place.

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