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U Of C Planning To Build Off-Campus Apartment Building

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CHICAGO (STMW) – The University of Chicago, encouraged by early success of its Harper Court redevelopment, is pushing forward with plans to build a retail and apartment building less than a half-mile away from it.

The school has asked the city to rezone property it owns at 1330 E. 53rd St., a more than one-acre site with a Mobil gas station. The zoning request would allow construction of a 267-unit building with 30,000 square feet of retail space at its base.

It would mark a new phase of the university’s intent to upgrade a retail corridor north of its Hyde Park campus. The U. of C. has described the $250 million effort along 53rd Street as a “once in a generation” opportunity for improvement.

The new building would be opposite Nichols Park. The school fashioned the plans after several community planning conferences that highlighted a demand for new rental housing and more dining and shopping choices.

It “will help establish 53rd Street as a retail destination for Hyde Park residents and for visitors to the neighborhood,” said Calmetta Coleman, director of communications for civic engagement at the U of C She said it also would encourage foot traffic by linking Harper Court with Kimbark Plaza, a CVS-anchored center at 53rd and Kimbark.

The university hired downtown developer Mesa Development LLC, best known for high-rises squeezed behind historic facades on Wabash Avenue, to manage the project. The design of the 13-story building is by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates.

It will include 218 parking spaces, some for the public, and a landscaped roof. The university has asked for no public subsidy. It’s zoning request starts a hearing process that could lead to City Council approval.

The commercial part of the building could build on momentum from the Harper Court project, where the U of C has partnered with other developers to build new retail space and a forthcoming Hyatt Place hotel and office building.