Silver Tower to rise in River North

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Silver Tower, a 38-story glass highrise planned for 303 W. Ohio St. might seem alien among the brick and limestone of River North, but its modern sculpture-like features could make the 233-condo development a natural for the neighborhood’s art gallery scene.

When Sam Persico, president of Oak Brook-based Stonegate Development, began interviewing architects for the project two years ago, he wanted something that would be viewed as a work of art.

“Ohio Street is one of the main streets coming into the city,” Persico said. “We wanted to create kind of a gateway location. We wanted to create a very dramatic, contemporary building.”

The Chicago firm hired to design Silver Tower, Hartshorne and Plunkard Architecture, put together plans for a strikingly contemporary glass, concrete and metal structure. Details such as a curved wall of glass along the building’s northwest side and columns that create a floating effect make Silver Tower as much a work of art as a highrise, said Jim Plunkard, a partner in Hartshorne and Plunkard.

“Every piece of architecture at some level is art,” Plunkard said. “This is a special piece because of how unique it is. The detailing of the building makes it even more special. The detailing is clean and elegant.”

Adjacent to the Silver Tower site is a vintage seven-story loft building at 325 W. Ohio St. that will house the sales center. Making the base of the tower the same height as the existing building was important, Plunkard said, because he wanted to emphasize the contemporary design.

“That’s how you make an old building look great,” he said. “You put a new building next to it and by contrast they each stand out. The old building looks more rich, and the new building looks more elegant.”

Retail will occupy the first floor of Silver Tower, with parking on the next eight floors and condos on the remaining floors, Persico said. Amenities include 24-hour door staff, a fitness center and sky lobby on the 10th floor, and a rooftop garden and dog run.

Priced from the $200s to the $600s, the units will have one to three bedrooms and one to three bathrooms. The homes, most of which include oversized balconies, also feature floor-to-ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and hardwood floors. Parking spaces are available starting at $30,000.

“This is going to complement the area,” Plunkard said. “It’s going to mark this space as a special area.”

But how will this new entrant sell in a market with more than 40 highrise developments on the drawing board?

Extremely well, insists Eric Sommerfeld, of @properties, exclusive sales and marketing agent for Silver Tower. The demand for highrise living and a hassle-free lifestyle downtown continues to grow, he said.

“We represent more highrises than any other company in the city,” Sommerfeld said. “We haven’t seen a balloon of people not wanting to live in highrises.”

Sommerfeld expects buyers to range from first-time buyers to empty nesters. The proximity of the condos to downtown shopping, restaurants, public transportation and the Kennedy Expressway also makes them perfect for suburban residents who want second homes in the city, he said.

“It’s easy enough access for them to be right near the city,” Sommerfeld said. “This way you get to your downtown place and you can hop in a cab and go anywhere.”

Construction is slated to begin in spring 2006, with buyers closing on their homes in fall 2007 through spring 2008, Persico said. Prospective buyers can register now at www.SilverTowerChicago.com to be on the VIP list for the grand opening of the sales center in early October.

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