The 84-year-old, 156-foot-high Cairo apartment building in midtown is scheduled to be sold for $5.5 million this spring to a real estate development firm that plans to convert the recently rehabilitated building into condominium apartments.

Paul Upchurch, vice president of Inland Steel Development Corp., which is part owner of the Cairo, said that an agreement has been reached with Holland and Lyons Associates, developers and condominium conversion specialists, to purchase the building, which has 170 units.

However, Upchurch also pointed out that the Cairo tenants have been notified of the impending sale and have time to work out a counter offer, according to D.C. law. A tenant association spokesperson said that group plans to notify Inland of a desire to buy the building. The group then has 90 days to work out financing arrangements.

Located at 1615 Q St. NW., the Cairo was built in 1894 by architect Thomas Franklin Schneider. It deteriorated after World War II and was closed as a hotel in 1972. Inland Steel, which then was active in urban renewal on the Georgetown waterfront, bought the building and reportedly spent $4 million to renovate it. It was reopened as a rental apartment building in 1976.

The Cairo is the tallest building in the District. It was built before the city adopted a 130-foot height limit. Upchurch said that the Cairo also was the first steel-frame structure to be built in the District.

He indicated that the sale to Holland and Lyons was arranged because Inland decided to take a different approach to its real estate investments here. The firm, which earlier built a new office building in Georgetown, recently sold two parcels of Georgetown property.

Upchurch cited "rent controls and the condominium market" as reasons why Inland put the Cairo on the market. He said that, pending whatever action the tenants might take to purchase the building themselves, the plan is to go to settlement with Holland and Lyons in May.