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CHICAGO-The Alter Group, based here, is planning to redevelop nine floors of the Pittsfield building, at 55 E. Washington St. Alter plans to redevelop floors 13 through 21, which has 147,500 rentable sf, into student housing with a total of 450 beds, says Richard Gatto, VP with Alter. Alter paid $23 million to building owner Robert Danial, an investor from Miami, for the floors, with the total cost of the project estimated at $45 million. The firm received a $36-million loan from First Bank for the project. Roosevelt University and Robert Morris College have both signed leases for student housing for five-plus years, Gatto says.

Roosevelt University will lease four floors at the Pittsfield Center and Robert Morris College will lease three floors in the building. Tiffany Winne, with Studley, represented Roosevelt University in the lease transaction. Matthew Ward and Bryan Farquhar, both with Alter, represented their firm. The two schools will be leasing the majority of the housing with 100 beds still available. Each of the two schools is within three to four blocks from the Pittsfield Building. Alter is in discussions with other local colleges and universities for the remaining space, Gatto says. “Within an eight-block radius from Pittsfield, there are 10 to 11 schools,” he says.

There has been an increase in the demand for student housing in the area, Gatto says. “There is a very unknown student population here in the Central Business District, skewed to the east and the south,” he says. Students who previously would have commuted to Downtown universities are now seeking to live there, he says. Current student housing has 100% occupancy. Additionally, there is a desire for more upscale student housing by students “combined with the willingness from parents to pay a little more to provide their student with nicer, more elaborate housing options,” Gatto says.

Alter has not previously developed student housing, but was approached by Robert Morris College. The firm has worked with the college before and the school approached Alter about the need, Gatto tells GlobeSt.com.

The housing will have a variety of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units with most having one bed per bedroom “so there will be privacy,” he says. There will also be units with four beds that will have some shared bedrooms, he says. The student housing will be similar to apartments with separate kitchens and bathrooms for each unit but will have 24-hour security, common areas and will have a separate entrance in the building, Gatto says.

The facility will have 10-foot ceilings, central heating and air conditioning, and granite countertops. “What we are attempting to do is create a building and a dormitory that is a notch above, or is pushing the envelope,” Gatto says. The student housing will be available for occupancy by Aug. 1, he says. The building already has operable windows, which is required for residential buildings in Chicago, and had four elevators dedicated to the mid-rise floors which will make the renovation less expensive, he says.

The housing will be called Fornelli Hall. “Anthony J. Fornelli is really the one who brought the opportunity to us,” Gatto says. “He is a very civic-minded citizen here in Chicago [and] he is somewhat well-known in the education community.”

The 392,647-sf Pittsfield Center was constructed in 1927 and was designated a Chicago landmark in 2002. The building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and has a five-story atrium. The rest of the building is about 90% occupied, mostly with doctors’ and dentists’ offices, in addition to some jewelers, he says.

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