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LISLE, IL-Opus North Corp. has broken ground on a 391-unit apartment community within the Corporetum Office Campus in the western suburbs. The five-story building, at 450 Warrenville Rd., is expected to cost around $90 million to build and is the first phase of a 16-acre overall development to be known as the Arboretum Landmark. The second phase will include up to 150,000 sf of office, which the company will begin construction on in summer or fall 2009, says Matt Nix, senior real estate director for the company.

“There have been virtually no new apartment developments in many years,” Nix says. “You’re talking about a very sizable market and in recent years, good sites were basically consumed by condominium and town home developments. It was really perfect timing for a community that was open to a new rental product that will be high end, with condo-quality finishes.”

The development is near the Morton Arboretum and within the existing Corporetum Office Campus, which was developed about 25 years ago and is owned by numerous different entities, Nix says. The site Opus North owns was originally zoned for office, but Nix says the company decided to go in another direction due to the plentiful office space already existing in that area. “Given the current office market, we thought the best approach was to come in with a mix of uses and introduce a luxury rental component amenity to the existing office and to the office building we’re proposing,” Nix says. “It reduces the scale of overall office to be developed, and 150,000 sf seemed more manageable.”

Opus North has already purchased nine of the 16-acres – the parcel on which the apartment building will be developed – and plans to buy the rest for the office component next year. Nix declined to disclose the purchase price. Located in the Interstate 88 corridor, Nix says the development location is ideal for its proximity to two local highways. “It’s immediately adjacent to I-88, and within a quarter-mile of the new I-355 extension,” Nix says.

The apartment building will offer space ranging in size from one- to three-bedrooms, with 650 sf to 1,400 sf. The units will include nine-foot ceilings, large closets and balconies, and indoor parking. Rents will range from $1,300 to $2,500 per month. The building will offer residents a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool with sundeck and fire pit, club room, Internet cafe, media screening room with stadium-style seating and business center. The apartment building is expected to be completed in late 2009, and will be the largest suburban multifamily development in five years, the company said.

“This is a pretty unique product type,” Nix says. “This is the next generation of rental housing, which looks a lot more like a condo building. While that’s more expensive to build, it also lends itself to higher-density, higher-visibility locations.”

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