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CHICAGO-M&R Development will break ground this week on a 221-unit apartment building at 469 W. Huron. The 21-story Parc Huron is slated for completion in mid-2010, and is expected to cost around $81.8 million to construct. M&R acquired the land and plans for the building late last month for about $8.3 million from Miami-based Lennar Corp., which had marketed the tower as condominiums but never begun work on the site.

“We feel it’s a really strong location, and we like the fact that this was all already approved through the city,” Anthony Rossi Sr., managing member of M&R, tells GlobeSt.com. “The plans were very good. As a condo, it was a little on the smaller side, but it’s right on the sweet spot for an upper-end rental.”

Lennar decided to sell its way out of the project after the condo market turned so sharply, Rossi says. “The whole condominium market changed on them,” Rossi says. “Lennar is a large company that has other corporate considerations, and they have to consider on a national basis what their total sold units are. Lennar, like any major condo developer and builder, is retrenching and trying to coin up the balance sheet, and didn’t want to jump into more new product.”

Despite switching the building to rental units, M&R will maintain the higher-end condo finishes, and actually upgraded some of the amenities, Rossi says. “It’s only 221 units, which I like because it’s something you can get your hands around,” Rossi says. “It’s not a monster 600-unit building, where you have to have a strong market to lease it up. We think this is going to do very well and that 221 units will move pretty fast.”

The building is being constructed in the River North submarket. “River North is a good location and one of the better areas,” he says. “The last new building to go up there was Kingsbury Plaza a little to the southwest of us, and they had terrific results. This building is going to be very unique and probably more of an upscale rental at the top of the rental market.”

Leasing of the space will begin in spring 2010, with asking lease rates around $2.50 per square foot. The building will offer one- through three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 614 square feet to 1,443 square feet. Shared building amenities will include a steam room, sauna, massage room, and spa pool, fitness center, cyber cafe, business center, conference room, media room and lounge. Residents will have access parking for 233 cars, to be located on floors two through four, and there will be some retail space on the ground level. The building will seek Silver LEED Certification, a green roof will be located on the fifth floor, and a 14,000-square-foot park is planned on the site east of the building.

The tower was designed by locally based Hartshorne + Plunkard Architecture, and the general contractor is Walsh Construction Co. The project is being financed by Charter One Bank and PrivateBank, while JP Morgan Asset Management and M&R Development are providing the equity. Once completed, Parc Huron will be managed by RMK Management Corp., M&R’s sister company, which already manages more than 8,000 apartments in the Midwest.

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