2215-2221 N. Clifton Ave. Photo from listing.

August 26, 2014 :: By Dennis Rodkin

Laramar Group LLC paid just over $7 million last week for all 24 units in a 19th century Lincoln Park condominium building, which it plans to convert to apartments.

Buying condominiums to turn them into rentals “isn't our main strategy,” but “this was a unique opportunity. It's an A-plus location,” said Ben Slad, assistant vice president of asset management for Chicago-based Laramar.

The building, 2215-2221 N. Clifton Ave., is a few blocks from DePaul University. It had 23 owners, one of whom owned two units, according to Hillary Levy, the Baird & Warner Inc. agent who represented them. About 20 units were rented, Mr. Slad said, with owners living in the others.

The high proportion of renters “had made it difficult for individual owners to sell,” Ms. Levy said, because lenders often won't provide a mortgage for a home in a mostly rental building.

The existing rental tenants will be kept on and the remaining units converted to rental, Mr. Slad said. The building, which dates to 1896, has 20 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units.

Members of the condo association's board last year proposed a group sale, Ms. Levy said. The challenge was that "we'd have to get 23 sellers to agree to a price,” she said. “No buyer was going to want to buy 20 of the units and have to fight with the other (several) owners.”

The majority of owners voted for a group sale. Ms. Levy listed the brick and limestone building for $8 million in October, later reducing the price twice and landing at $7.6 million in April.

Marissa Lanzito, an @properties agent who owned a unit in the building and rented it out for the past year, ended up voting against the deal. She said she was not surprised an apartment developer would want the building.

“Getting them rented is a joke, it's so easy around here,” she said.

Laramar owns rental properties in Chicago, San Francisco and Denver. Its Chicago holdings include the Belden Stratford, Left Bank at K Station and Southgate Apartments in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood.

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