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CONVERTING THE MASSES
LOW INTEREST RATES FUEL A CONDOMINIUM WAVE SWEEPING CHICAGO
March 01, 1999
By THOMAS A. CORFMAN
When Nicholas Gouletas approached basketball star Isiah Thomas in 1988 about investing in his $200-million plan to convert Chicago's Lake
Point Tower into condominiums, Mr. Thomas -- a Chicago native who was playing with the Detroit Pistons -- didn't say yes. But he didn't say
That was all the encouragement a consummate salesman like Mr. Gouletas needed.
The chairman of Chicago's American Invsco Corp. finally got the answer he was looking for 11 years later, albeit for a different project. Mr.
Thomas, now chairman and CEO of Detroit-based Isiah Investments Inc., recently became an investor in Mr. Gouletas' conversion of the
Gold Coast Galleria, a 34-story, 331-unit building at 111 W. Maple St.
The project is part of a wave of major condo conversions under way in Chicago, a trend that began in the city's core and that's spread to
Several factors are contributing to the resurgence: the strong demand for housing, particularly downtown; apartment building owners ready to
cash out after a long, slow climb in the values of their properties, and real estate investors eager for a quick return on their money.
But one factor controls all the others.
"No. 1 is low interest rates for home mortgages," says Mr. Gouletas.
Condo conversions in the late 1990s never will match the rapid pace set earlier in the decade, when many major apartment towers in the city
were sold following a glut of construction. The reason: There aren't many left to convert. But even so, the conversion business has been brisk
"If this is a boomlet, I'd like to see the boom," says Herbert Emmerman, president of Equity Marketing Services I