In 1981, drivers on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport watched with fascination as huge cranes lifted rectangular, modular units into the air and set them three high on a large concrete pier foundation. The end result was Chateau de La Mer, a resort condominium at the corner of Cowan-Lorraine Road.
The modular units were built in Eupore and the raised concrete foundation was constructed on site. At that time, units sold for $59,000 to $75,000, depending on how close they were to the beach. The original plans of the Houston-based U.S. Homes, which was busily developing condos in 22 other states, was for 216 units in the complex, but only 144 were lifted into place. A national financial slump and a slow-to-catch-on trend of resort condos was explained as the reason.
   In 1983 the slow sales slump led the company to hold two auctions, at which 85 more units were sold, averaging about $40,000 each. Some said they bought in anticipation of the World's Fair coming to New Orleans the next year.
   In recent times, the units were individually owned, with the Chateau de La Mer Owners Association allowing only limited rentals because a "hotel" status would have affected insurance. Some were permanent residences and second homes.
   Katrina destroyed some units but left others standing on their cement foundations, basically unaccessible and unstable.    "Some people were able to salvage a few things, but many were not," said Denise Sexton, office manager.
   By association rules, a rebuilding plan had to be presented within 100 days of the storm and all owners had to agree. That didn't happen so Sexton said the owners' association is moving forward with selling the land.