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CHICAGO-Redevelopment of four loft buildings into a 145-unit, 442-bed dormitory is expected to be ready for the University of Illinois at Chicago students in the summer of 2007. Developer Smithfield Properties hopes to begin work on the $42-million project later this summer, with the redevelopment in the 1000 block of W. Van Buren Street expected to take two years.

The project, in an area where loft buildings continue to be converted from commercial use to multifamily, primarily condominiums, also will include ground-floor retail space along W. Van Buren Street. The student housing is across the Eisenhower Expressway from University of Illinois at Chicago, long considered a commuter college. A change in a two-year-old planned development, which already includes a proposed 29-story condominium tower, was endorsed recently by the plan commission.

Smithfield Properties will restore facades on three of the buildings at 1001-25 W. Van Buren St., which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The facade of 1027 W. Van Buren St. may be replaced with glass curtain walls, according to the developer’s plans, which also involve creating higher ceiling heights in that building.

The change in plans creates a higher density in the two-acre planned development along the Eisenhower Expressway. In exchange for a nearly 5% increase in the total density in the planned development area, Smithfield Properties is contributing $366,354 to the city’s affordable housing fund.

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