Centrum owners to sell 15 of 35 units on May 20
A condominium conversion sales project in one of Oak Lawn’s most prestigious high-rise buildings has apparently tanked, leaving residents who have already purchased fuming about a planned auction of many remaining units.
“They have taken the jewel of Turtle Creek and ruined the image with the auction,” said Mark Shekter, a real estate broker who has an office in the building and has lived in it for 10 years. “The current residents are upset because of the anticipated decrease in property values.”
The Centrum building’s investors, who bought the 20-year-old condominiums in 2005, plan to auction off 15 of the 35 condominiums in a sale on May 20. Only eight of the building’s living units which originally were being sold for $500,000 to $3 million are now occupied.
Alan Kravets, president of the auction house Sheldon Good & Co., said the owners, Centennial Real Estate Corp. and GEM Realty Capital of Chicago, wanted to sell out quickly. The marketing strategy is new to Dallas, but it has been successful in other parts of the country, and the auction house’s clients have included billionaire Donald Trump, he noted.
“This is a first-class building, and we are excited about representing it,” Kravets said.
The owners’ decision had raised concerns among some that the condominium market in Dallas is in decline, but Shekter said the market is not to fault it’s the owners.
“They had never done a condo conversion before,” said Shekter, who bought the unit he had lived in for nine years as a tenant. “They did not understand the mentality of the person who would buy at the Centrum.”
Shekter said the investors told tenants they had to move when their leases were up rather than waiting until they sold.
“Therefore, the building became a ghost town with no activity when they could have helped their expenses by letting people stay,” Shekter said. “People were begging to stay.”
Shekter said the owners made another mistake by finishing out all of the units the same.
“The people who buy those type of units want individuality, and do not want everything the same,” Shekter said. “Many would have liked to combine units to make bigger units, and this option was ruined.”
Shekter said he believes the owners have failed to honor their commitments to the buyers now residing at the Centrum.
“They failed to make the common areas exciting, and the drive-up appeal was lacking,” Shekter said. “They did not properly staff the building in the beginning, therefore the image was not of the quality of the building.”
Shekter said the Centrum remains one of the best designed buildings for high-rise living in Dallas. The features include large balconies, spacious rooms and floor to ceiling glass.
Five units will be sold regardless of price. Suggested opening bids range from $250,000 to $500,000. A three-story penthouse featuring five terraces will be sold in a sealed bid auction ending on May 15.
Open house will be held at the condominiums from noon to 3 p.m. each weekend from April 21 to May 20.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 13, 2007