Ubiquitous ‘Polites’ signs the legacy of flamboyant property tycoon from Port Pirie
One of the many "Polites" signs on properties around Adelaide city.
The “Polites” signs that dominate Adelaide CBD commercial buildings reflect the astonishing rise of Constantine George Polites from 1959 as a property tycoon.
Born in 1919 at Port Pirie to Greek farming parents, Polites grew up in poverty but set up a deli/snack bar at the age of 16. He moved to Adelaide at 19 and worked as a general hand at Woolworths in Rundle Street before starting businesses in Adelaide.
After moving to Sydney for a few years to get married, Polites returned to Adelaide and made his first real-estate buys, including a building in Grenfell Street across from Harris Scarfe’s, at the start of the 1960s.
Polites immediately put a blue-and-white sign with his name on each building be bought. Hindley Street has the greatest concentration of the signs as Polites bought and sold hundreds of properties in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a noticeable figure around town, driving a 1977 Cadillac, usually smoking a cigar.
In 1992, Con Polites told The Advertiser he had always wanted to have his name up in lights but that it wasn’t about ego, rather “a feeling of satisfaction that one has achieved success … And you let people know that you are around.”
Polites died in 2001 but his passion for property and doing deals has been passed on to the next generation of his family.
The death of George Polites had at least two odd sequels. In 2011, 10 shots fired were fired at the former home and, in 2016, his grave was desecrated in a macabre attack believed to have been sparked by a family feud.
A dead cat wrapped in a towel was found inside a pet carrier when police excavated the late Adelaide property tycoon's grave. The excavation was believed to be connected to a suspicious package found at an Adelaide home. Police removed that package and said it was not dangerous.