Client Profile: Karidis Corporation

The Pioneer of Urban Affordability


A quintessential migrant success story of an unassuming property developer passionate about turning the city centre into a vibrant, affordable, and more liveable space.

It is impossible to look at the Adelaide skyline and not see an indelible mark left by Gerry Karidis and his burgeoning property company: Karidis Corporation.

From quite humble beginnings in post-war Greece to one of Australia’s most respected property developers and businessmen, Gerry Karidis’ story is unlike any other.

Gerry’s journey began when, in December 1955 as a young 18-year-old, he left his island home of Lefkada 400kms north-west of Athens to join his older brother Don on the other side of the globe in the relatively little-known city of Adelaide, South Australia.

Eager and bursting to get on with his new life, he soon found work on the assembly line at Chryslers barely a week after arriving. However, better wages and working conditions on the wharves of Port Adelaide beckoned. Together with brother Don, and a little extra work labouring, concreting and cleaning houses, they soon had enough money to build their first house at Ottoway.

The brothers had no building experience and used mainly recycled materials. Gerry would hire local tradies and watch them intently to pick up skills and tips and then finish the work himself to save money. A testament to their amateur talents is the fact that the house still stands to this day.

This work ethic would stay with him throughout his life, and even now, the 80-year-old Chairman still puts in a full day.

As longtime friend and head of the Maras Group, Theo Maras recalled in a Today Tonight interview, “Gerry is 100% focused. He didn’t understand what a fence was. He always crashed through everything.”

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why his property fortunes went from strength to strength, and he was able to leave the wharves. Now, property opportunities seemed to present themselves at often unexpected moments.

One story goes that Gerry went to buy a new car for the couple’s corner deli business West Croydon only to come home as the new owner of a bright yellow house in Old Port Road, Queenstown.

His first big commercial project presented itself in 1961. Gerry bought and demolished a property in Mile End and built six apartments for a tidy profit of some £6,000, or around $80,000 in today’s dollars.

Gerry Karidis was on his way, and people began to take notice. Investors, agents, builders, financiers and more all wanted to get to know the affable Greek businessman and he was happy to oblige: building solid relationships as well as houses and units.

Says Theo Maras, “Any investor who spent money with Gerry, never lost money.”

As his business flourished, so too did his penchant for forging relationships, which now extended to politicians Don Dunstan and federal labour MP Clyde Cameron. It was through these connections that Gerry’s world was turned upside down in a series of events that ultimately led to the undoing of the Government of the Day.

Supposedly, Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Conner, while seeking $4bn for development and infrastructure projects, was looking for an alternative to raising funds through US financiers.

Meanwhile, through the nephew of his financier, Gerry Karidis had heard of someone with $200 million to invest. An opportunity that he passed on to trusted friend Clyde Cameron who in turn brought it to the attention of Conner. As it happened, the opportunity fell through, but it did lead to the introduction of Tirath Khemlani, a Pakistani commodities dealer for respected London investment firm Dalamal and Sons.

Khemlani purportedly had access to billions in Arab oil money and flew to Australia to meet with Conner, Cameron and Gerry. History records that although many meetings took place, ultimately the loan fell through and the wounded Whitlam Government was well on its way to becoming a part of political infamy.

During all this, Gerry Karidis maintained an air of propriety. And, although the affair took a personal toll, Gerry’s reputation remained untainted and his business continued to grow.

In the eighties, Gerry began a three-decade dream to repopulate the city centre by developing vibrant, affordable, and more liveable spaces: a legacy that continues today with a league of devoted friends and fans.

And we’re proud to say we’re chief among them. In fact, DW Fox Tucker’s association with Gerry and the Karidis Corporation spans more than 30 years.

Throughout his entire career he has continued to pursue community interests. His involvement in a vast range of public bodies, community associations and committees, and particularly the Greek Orthodox Church, has led to many awards over the years, including recognition as a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990.

In 2017, the Karidis Corporation continues to keep community interests at the heart of their business. Urban development, retirement homes and villages, apartments, shopping complexes and car parks are now part of the city landscapes in both Adelaide and Melbourne.

Echelon is the Karidis Corporation’s latest development on the old Trims site in King William Street, Adelaide. Aptly described as luxury apartment living, this architectural masterpiece will deliver an unprecedented fusion of high-end apartment living, state-of-the-art commercial spaces and a spectacular retail and hospitality opportunity.

It’s just one of many ongoing projects the octogenarian seems to juggle on a daily basis. That said, Gerry’s far from the retiring type. “I’ll start to slow down a bit that’s for sure, but I have to remain active.”

Gerry Karidis has come a long way since setting out from the pretty little Ionian Island he once called home. And even though he has created some of the most iconic buildings in Adelaide along the way, surely his greatest success was building a reputation as a hard-working, honest, loyal, highly successful, property developer and businessman, and a highly respected and valued South Australian.


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