William “Bill” A. Alter, founder of Chicago-based developer The Alter Group, passed away August 8 in his Winnetka home of complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer’s. He was 78. Named one of the most influential people of the 20th Century by National Real Estate Investor magazine, Alter developed more than $1 billion of space over a half century.
Alter began his career building homes for post-war, first-time buyers and their growing families in the suburbs of Chicago. In 1959, Alter developed the first residential community for middle-income minority buyers, Kingston Green in Markham. With Olympian Jesse Owens as his national spokesman, Alter brought the dream of home-ownership to hundreds of disenfranchised families.
A recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Land Institute in Chicago, Alter helped create the now widely-used concept of the professionally-planned industrial park.
Chicago projects include the Chicago History Museum modernization; The CORE Center, the nation’s first outpatient facility for the treatment of HIV-related diseases; and the Fornelli Hall renovation for student residence in downtown Chicago.