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CHICAGO-Developers have hired The Building Group to step in as property management firm at the 93-unit Opera Lofts. The development, which was once estimated to cost more than $10 million, is approaching completion at 2545 S. Dearborn St. on the near south side. Formerly a warehouse for the sets of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the building is being developed by Leigh Ballen and Andres Schcolnik of LOACQ LLC, who had previously hired another property management firm that did not work out.

The developers switched property management providers based on The Building Group’s superior understanding of the property, according to Jim Stoller, president of Chicago-based firm. “Their former property management company didn’t really get it and approached it like the management of any other building,” Stoller tells GlobeSt.com. “We walked in and were blown away by the design, understood their vision and saw this property as an exquisite piece of art. We understand loft buildings from managing a lot of them, and this is really the best loft building I’ve seen.”

Stoller also brings a background in architecture to the project, as well as a shared emphasis on green practices. While The Building Group is known for use of eco-friendly cleaning product and implementation of in-building recycling programs, developers made similar efforts by implementing thousands of feet of green roof space, high-efficiency HVAC units and appliances, dual-flush toilets, and insulated doors and windows. “The developers didn’t want cookie cutter management, and The Building Group is known for being high service,” Stoller says.

LOACQ, Inc. bought the building and its 39,000-square-foot site in 2004 for nearly $2 million, according to property records. Located in the burgeoning 26th Street Loft District, the project was a phased development, with the first units delivering in 2007 and the last expected to complete later this year. The building was originally constructed in sections between 1912 and 1924, and offers residents 13- to 30-foot ceiling heights as well as exposed columns, brick and spiral ductwork.

“It’s really a neat, historic building that they’re still in the process of converting and building out,” Stoller tells GlobeSt.com. “They did an incredibly elaborate redesign of the building, and it’s probably one of the most exquisite loft renovations ever done. They incorporated former Lyric Opera set pieces into the design of the building, like doors and common areas.”

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