Real estate tycoon Eugene Martin Grant died April 3 at the age of 99.
Mr. Grant founded his eponymous commercial real estate and investment firm Eugene M. Grant & Co. in 1971.
The company made headlines in 2012 when he sold his controlling stake in perhaps the company’s best-known building, the St. John’s Terminal Building in SoHo, for $250 million.
The building at 550 Washington was purchased by Grant in the 1960’s and later repositioned as low-cost office space in the 1980’s, before becoming coveted property in recent years.
A well-known philanthropist, Mr. Grant was the longest continuous donor in the history of UJA-Federation of New York.
He made his first contribution of $1,000 to UJA in 1958, an astronomical amount at a time when a new car cost $2,200, and gave generously to UJA for the next 60 years.
Among other leadership roles, he was a former board member, chair of an annual campaign, member of the Real Estate Executive Committee, and most notably, in 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Real Estate Division.
“Most importantly, ‘Gene’ taught us that the three most important things for a happy life are giving love, being part of a community, and doing something meaningful,” said UJA CEO Eric S. Goldstein. “His legacy will endure.”
“Eugene Grant was a dedicated, compassionate, and generous New Yorker who served on our Board of Governors and was a REBNY member for over 60 years,” said REBNY president John Banks. “His countless charitable initiatives, valiant service to our country, and his career in real estate have had a long-lasting impact and will be remembered by those across our industry. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Emily, and the entire Grant family.”
Eugene Martin Greenberg was born in Hell’s Kitchen on July 17, 1918, in the shadow of the Ninth Avenue El. He grew up on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and later moved with his family to West End Avenue. He attended City College of NY and continued at the University of Michigan (B.A.) and Columbia University Law School (J.D.).
In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and served as a P-47 bomber escort pilot with the 362nd Fighter Group in England, France, Luxembourg and Germany, emerging as a captain by war’s end.
Back in New York, he changed his surname to Grant and joined the family real estate firm of Samuel Greenberg & Co. going on to found his own firm in 1971.
After selling the St. John’s Terminal, the original terminus of the High Line, Mr Grant embarked on a major philanthropic career. His favorite causes included the welfare and security of Israel and the Jewish people, classical music and the performing and visual arts, higher education, nature and the environment, and American national security.
Mr Grant is survived by his wife of 68 years, Emily Louise Geldsaler of Toronto, Canada; his daughters, Terry, Andrea (Kate Fay) and Carolyn. He was preceded in death by his sister, Evelyn Clyman.
Those who wish may send donations to the Westchester Holocaust and Human Rights Commission (Garden of Remembrance), the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Program, the Israel Tennis Centers, the Medici Archive Project or NRDC.