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CHICAGO-Van Buren Financial LLC has plans to sell 1035 W. Van Buren, a 32,000-square-foot site with zoning and entitlements for a 23-story multifamily development. The property is within a fully-approved planned development for a 325-unit apartment tower, with parking and retail.

The site, currently a surface parking lot, is being offered for sale for $11 million by a venture controlled by local developers Robert Horner and Ibrahim Shihadeh and marketed by CB Richard Ellis.

“It’s on the Eisenhower and has tremendous visibility, with some signage potential so there’s a possibility to produce some revenue with some signage,” John Jaeger, first vice president in CBRE’s Investment Properties Group, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s across the interstate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with 25,000 students. Not all sites have proximity to a major university like that and there’s very little student housing on the campus, so that’s an opportunity a developer to feed off the campus and do some student housing on the site.”

Horner and Shihadeh have owned the property for three years. “The developers created some value by getting zoning in place, and they weighed their options to see where they could exit some real estate they have, and it was their decision to dispose of this asset rather than develop the site,” Jaeger says.

“It’s zoned and ready to go, and there are architectural plans in place so if you choose to utilize the plan the developer has proposed, it’s a turn key operation,” Jaeger says. “You could pull permits fairly quickly and there’s no entitlement or zoning risk, which can take a long time in Chicago.”

Jaeger says the site is in no way distressed and there has already been interest from several investors. The development will offer more than 200 one-bedrooms, with the remaining units a mix of two- and three-bedrooms. The average unit size will be 780 square feet, with rental rates averaging around $1,700. The development plans also provide for 12,000 square feet of street-level retail and a 350-car parking garage. The property was designed by Chicago-based FitzGerald Associates Architects to achieve LEED certification.

By CBRE’s projections, the total estimated cost of the development, including land and hard and soft costs, is around $81 million and investors could expect an 8% return.

“There has not been new construction or a high rise rental development in the West Loop west of Halsted Street ever, so this would be basically without any competition,” Jaeger says. “With 23 stories, virtually no buildings in the West Loop have been able to achieve that type of high rise zoning, so the views would be phenomenal and unobstructed looking east into the city.”

Jaeger says the project has a two-year construction timeline, so even if it were begun by this year, it wouldn’t deliver until 2011, with another year needed for stabilization after completion.

“It’s a good time right now to solicit bids in the construction market because the contractors and construction market are very slow,” he says. “It’s a great time to lock in a competitive cost for a development and interest rates are very low so you could lock in a good construction loan. It’s traditionally been a good time for developers to develop in a challenging environment and deliver in a good market.”

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