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CHICAGO-The next owner of a River North building plans to open a “three- or four-star restaurant” on the ground floor, with office tenants likely to be sought for the upper two stories. Jonathan Lee hopes to close on his purchase of the Veseman Building at 442-44 N. LaSalle St., which has been marketed at $2.25 million, later this month.

Built in 1880 and renovated in 1930, the 7,000-sf building was one of seven Chicago structures on Preservation Chicago’s “endangered buildings” last year, says group president Jonathan Fine. The façade is in the relatively short-lived Art Deco style, Fine says, as well as terra cotta. With new owner Lee’s support, the commission on Chicago landmarks recommended its designation to the city council Thursday.

“One of the reasons we liked the building was its Art Deco style,” Lee tells GlobeSt.com after the commission on Chicago landmarks recommended landmark status for the building. Another reason was more financial, but already appears to be a sticking point. The building comes with a rooftop sign, which will continue to provide an income stream, notes architect Lonn Frye.

“I think this is a very unusual building. You won’t find very many like it,” says 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus. “But I’d like to get rid of that hideous sign.”

However, the revenue from the billboard atop the building was factored into his purchase price, Lee tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s difficult for that sign to go away,” he adds.

The building has been vacant while his company has been marketing it, says Millennium Properties Inc. associate Gregory O. Block, but most recently was occupied by a photographer and a spa. Previous users included an asbestos products operation, according to the department of planning and development.

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