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CHICAGO-Magellan Development Group has begun leasing the 474 rental units available at the $475-million Aqua development. The apartments are on floors 19 to 52 of the 82-story mixed-use tower, which will also include office, retail, hotel and condo components. Occupancy of the studios and one, two and three bedroom rental units is slated for May.

“A renter is really looking for location and amenities, and we have both,” a spokesperson tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s central location that’s a walk to work, Millennium Park, the lake and anything residents could want to do. Renters are driven by what’s in it for them, and these apartments are really well-designed with great views, finishes and closet space.”

Amenities include access to indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, indoor basketball court, outdoor deck, running track, fire pit and barbecues, a yoga area and spa. Rental rates for the units, which average around 1,300 square feet, range from $1375 to $3111. The building is also hoped to gain LEED certification.

Magellan believes the economy has only strengthened demand for such high-end rental units. “A lot of people are holding off on buying but want to live in an upscale community,” the spokesperson says. “Aqua is going to fit the bill for those people.”

This is Magellan’s third development of apartments in Lakeshore East. The Shoreham opened in 2004 with 548 units, while The Tides completed last year with 608 apartments. The two properties are around 90% leased, according to the spokesperson.

Magellan’s most recent development was designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio/Gang architects. “We have a lot of interest, especially because the building has been acclaimed architecturally,” the spokesperson says. “People actually stop on the street and stare at it. It’s really something to see.”

Despite the fact that demand for condos has slipped in recent months, Magellan has sold all but 12 of Aqua’s 273 available units, according to Brian Gordon, VP with Magellan. The condos, which begin on floor 53, are 96% sold and will deliver this fall. They range in size from studio to three bedrooms, which average around 1,200 square feet. The condos sell for about $525 per square foot.

CVS/pharmacy has signed on with a 20-year lease to anchor the retail component of the tower with a 12,000-square-foot ground level location. The company is the only tenant so far to take space in the 37,000 square feet of retail, which will begin to deliver in May. The company is looking to lease around 5,000 square feet to a restaurant and reserved another 20,000 square feet for other space related to the planned hotel.

Magellan will take nearly all of the development’s 40,000 square feet of office space. The developer is still in the process of securing a hotel to bring up to 310 rooms into space below floor 19, Gordon says. In discussions with several hotels to fill the spot, Magellan expects to announce a deal in the next couple of months. The hotel component of the development will likely not complete until 2010.

The Aqua project exists within the larger $4-billion Lakeshore East mixed-use development, which spans 28 acres along Lake Michigan between the Chicago River and Millennium Park. “We’ve created this village within the city,” Gordon tells GlobeSt.com. “Despite the economy, we’re still seeing a lot traffic and sales. With the amenities Lakeshore East has to offer, it’s still a desirable place to live.”

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