Former Summit House apartment tower sold

March 16, 2010

The landmark apartment building at 38th and Meridian streets formerly known as Summit House has been purchased by a pair of Chicago investors who plan to invest  “a significant amount of capital” into the 20-story tower.

Nicholas T. Leftakes and George C. Touras, the founders of Chicago-based real estate investment firm LT Group, bought the property March 2. It last changed hands in 2007, when real estate investor Frank Pons bought it, renamed it CityView on Meridian and began laying plans for a major renovation.

When those plans fizzled, Pons lost the building to his lender, which listed it last summer for $6.95 million. Steve LaMotte, the CB Richard Ellis broker who represented the seller, would not identify his client. Another broker familiar with the property said the seller was Prudential Life Insurance.

LaMotte wouldn’t disclose the sale price but said the property sold for 60 percent of the unpaid principal balance on the loan. He said the 44-year-old high rise drew interest from 23 buyers, 14 of which wrote offers. Three buyers made cash offers, but the LT Group offer wasn’t one of those, LaMotte said.

CityView is the first Indianapolis property for the new owners, one of whom, Touras, spent 22 years working in various capacities for entities controlled by billionaire real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell. According to the LT Web site, Touras was responsible for the financial performance of Zell’s $1.5 billion multi-family, office and retail portfolio.

The new owners’ plans for the 166-unit building include new windows, upgrades to many of the apartments, renovation of the lobby, the addition of a tenant amenity center and coffee bar and a redesign of the building’s canopy facing Meridian Street. Neither Touras or Leftakes could be reached to comment on their plans or the amount of rent they think the property can command.

CityView contains a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. More than 60 percent are one-bedroom units. The average size is 944 square feet and average rent is $855.

George Tikijian, whose Tikijian Associates brokers multi-family properties, said the previous owner’s plans assumed rents of close to $1,100, about $100 more than rents at another prominent high-rise, Riley Towers, which is within walking distance of the heart of downtown.

Whether the new owners can reposition CityView so that it fills up at healthy rental rates will depend largely on how renters perceive the area around 38th and Meridian.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” said Tikijian, who noted that there are affluent families in single-family homes just a few blocks to the north but that many apartments to the east, west and south are of marginal quality.

The former Summit House was owned more than 25 years ago by Century Realty Trust, a local real estate investment trust that dissolved a few years ago. It was purchased in the 1980s by a Chicago group that had several general partners over the years before selling the property to Pons.


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