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Industry Mourns Passing of Bill Alter
Bill Alter, founder of The Alter Group, passed away peacefully Friday, August 8, in his Winnetka, IL, home of complications from Alzheimer’s at age 78. Named one of the most influential people of the 20th century by National Real Estate Investor magazine, Alter presided over the development of more than $1 billion of space over a half century.
Alter’s Realty Company of America began building homes for post-war, first-time buyers. In 1959, Alter developed the first residential community for middle-income minority buyers, Kingston Green in Markham, IL. With Olympian Jesse Owens as his national spokesman, Alter brought the dream of home ownership to hundreds of families.
Dubbed the “sky broker”, Alter was known throughout his native Chicago for using a twin-engine plane to scout land sites. His son, Michael, who succeeded his father as president in 1995, said “his was a uniquely American story.”
Over the decades, The Alter Group developed millions of square feet of speculative office, industrial, research-and-development, and healthcare space in a variety of business parks. A recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Land Institute, Bill helped create the now widely copied concept of the professional planned industrial park.
Bill is survived by his wife, Evelyn. He was the father of Michael, Harvey, Jennie, Jonathan, and the late Rhonda Alter. Additionally, he had two step-children, Nicky Bliwas and Tony Winski, as well as 13 grandchildren.