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Oct. 29, 2004, 11:27PM Next incarnation for aging eyesore Condominiums may take place of hotel rooms By NANCY SARNOFF Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle A longtime downtown Houston eyesore, which was once the high-rise home to a transcendental meditation society, has been sold to an investment group that wants to turn it into condominiums. A partnership led by Don Nicholas of LandCo Properties purchased the 30-story Days Inn building on St. Joseph Parkway between Milam and Travis on the southern end of downtown. "An ugly duckling downtown will become a swan," said Nicholas, whose group is still studying what to do with the building. The property was built in the 1970s as a Holiday Inn and later converted to a Days Inn before it was taken over by a group led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who gained worldwide fame in the 1960s when he became the spiritual adviser for the Beatles. Located on the south side of downtown, the property was never successful as a hotel because it sat too far away from downtown corporations, hotel analysts have said. Nicholas and his partners have experience redeveloping old buildings. The group converted a structure in Colorado Springs to CityWalk Downtown, a residential building. Units were priced from the low $100,000s to more than $300,000. Nicholas said the Days Inn property reminded him of a larger version of the Colorado project. "It doesn't have a beautiful view of the Rockies, but it still has beautiful views of the city side and park side," he said. Tepid sales of downtown condominiums haven't stopped developers that see Houston as an up-and-coming residential market. Last month, Silvestri Investments purchased an old brick warehouse just blocks from Minute Maid Park, where it is building out at least 50 condominiums. And Randall Davis is planning to convert his St. Germain apartments on Main Street into for-sale units. He's selling the apartments for $180,000 on average and offering 100 percent financing. "I think people would like the opportunity to buy a condo in downtown Houston," he said. "Especially if it's priced right." The Maharishi, the founder of transcendental meditation, bought the Days Inn property in the early 1990s for a reported $2 million. It was renamed Heaven on Earth Inn, and the Maharishi's brand of meditation was taught there. But the hotel fell into disrepair and became a dingy blemish on downtown's skyline. It has sat vacant since the late 1990s. Adam Brackman and Jeff Kaplan of Wulfe & Co. brokered the sale.