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CHICAGO-A 113,000-sf building long used as a warehouse for the Chicago Lyric Opera will be converted into 93 condominiums, continuing a trend to multifamily redevelopment and development on the Near South Side. LOACQ, Inc. is planning to spend more than $10 million to convert the building at 2559 S. Dearborn St. into one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from $165,000 to $259,000, according to Leigh Ballen, a member of the development team.Ballen tells GlobeSt.com LOACQ hopes to begin work early next year, with occupancy beginning in early 2007 and completion by the end of that year. Those plans now hinge on obtaining necessary permits, but the plan commission already has endorsed the project. “The city has been in favor of it,” Ballen says.

Built in the early 1900s, the seven-story building at the northwest corner of Dearborn and 26th streets was originally intended to be occupied by an insurance company, Ballen tells GlobeSt.com. The insurance company never did take possession of the building, he adds, but the Lyric Opera used it as a warehouse, where crews made sets for Downtown performances. LOACQ, Inc. bought the property, which includes the 38,782-sf site in October for nearly $2 million, according to property records.

Department of planning and development officials note 225 units are being added within four blocks of LOACQ’s project. A building at 26th Street and Wabash Avenue is being converted to 50 units, while another corner at the intersection is the site of a 15-unit development. On a third corner, the Bronzeville Lofts mixed-use project includes 40 units above ground-floor retail and office space. And at 24th Street and Wabash Avenue, plans are in the works for a 120-unit condominium and townhouse project.

Five of the units will be set aside to buyers qualifying under the city’s affordable housing initiative. Although the project is located within a tax increment financing district, the developers are seeking no city financial assistance.

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