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U of C pursues building 267-unit apartment building on 53rd

Artist rendering proposed apartment building 1330 E. 53rd St. with 267 units 30000 square feet retail space. Architects are Valerio

Artist rendering of proposed apartment building at 1330 E. 53rd St. with 267 units and 30,000 square feet of retail space. Architects are Valerio Dewalt Train Associates. | Provided image

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Updated: March 23, 2013 6:31AM

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.

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