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Developer Stanley Stahl dies at 75.

Prominent developer and philanthropist Stanley Stahl died August 5th at New York Hospital from the effects of a stroke he suffered that morning. The passing of such a vibrant man, still heading his ongoing deal-making and banking operations, stunned members of the city's real estate and banking communities.

A private and quietly caring individual, Stahl did his deals and his good deeds without the publicity or the attention that so many others crave.

He was the sole stockholder of the local Apple Bank for Savings, which he acquired in 1990 after a $170 million unwelcome takeover. The $4 billion bank now has 35 branches in the metro area.

Stahl also owns the former Central Savings Bank Building, which is now known as the Apple Bank Building.

The developer is most often identified with his monumental 277 Park Avenue, a 51-story, institutionally respected tower. He developed the 1.8 million square-footer over a number of years and it comprises the full block from 47th to 48th Street. Completed in the early 1960's, its long-time tenant was Chemical Bank before its merger with Manufacturers Hanover Trust.

When the bank moved out, Stahl, the sole owner, removed the huge modern glass atrium lobby and rebuilt the entire front with a more traditional Park Avenue appearance. Currently, Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette is the largest tenant, occupying over 900,000 square feet.

Stahl harbored "a great love for the people and the architecture of the city," said long-time partner Kenneth Carmel, adding "You cannot get a better partner."

His architectural interest, most centered on the Art Deco era of his teenage years, was reflected in ownership positions in the 850,000 square-foot, 54-story Channin Building at 122 East 42nd Street; the Ansonia, which was purchased with other investors in 1979 and converted to condominium units in the mid-1990s; and his interest in the 900,000 square-foot, full-block former Western Union Building at 60 Hudson Street, now repositioned as the Hudson Telecom Building, all of which are city Landmarks.

With a partner, he owns the Lunt Fontanne Theater, and in 1961, he became the owner, with a family member, of the Cauldwell-Wingate Company construction firm, now headed by Susan Hayes. That firm is well-regarded for its projects, ranging from the six-building Concourse Village in The Bronx to Beckman Downtown Hospital and the Carnegie International Center office building at United Nations Plaza.

At one time he owned the nearby 633 Third Avenue with Joseph Comras, but during the early 1990s' recession, after the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund passed on its rental, lost the $145 million loan struggle to Travelers, their lender.

His friends paint a portrait of a deal-maker whose "handshake you could trust," even though he "never had a piece of paper on his dealt," and who unassumingly "built loyalty" among his employees and colleagues."

"He helped a lot of people," said Edward Riguardi, chairman of Colliers ABR, which is the leasing and managing agent at 277 Park Avenue. "When we started KTR, he sought us out and gave us his business," Riguardi recalled of his earlier company.

Returning from the Sunday funeral at Frank Campbell on Madison Avenue, Jerry Speyer recalled the words of the rabbi, who said Stahl "touched a lot of lives, and no one knew except the person he touched."

Speyer said he was in a number of deals with Stahl over the years, "and he was a great guy. He was a man of his word and he didn't need a piece of paper," Speyer continued. "His handshake was his word."

Investor Alan Friedberg, a member of the MTA board, like the others interviewed here, has known Stahl for more than 20 years.

"He was a real gentleman, very philanthropic and extremely humane," said Friedberg.

Stahl was a contributor and supporter of the American Heart Association and the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, both of which had offices in the Channin Building. Stahl was a big supporter of UJA through the Real Estate Division.

He was also close to the Kaskel family, who operate the Doral Hotels and many apartment buildings.

As an investor, developer and rehabilitator of about 3,000 Manhattan apartments, Stahl was a long-time member of owners' groups, including the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York (ABO), and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

Stahl holds an interest in the general partnership in Brodcom West, a 948-unit apartment and retail complex at 75 West End Avenue, being completed by the Brodsky Organization.

Earlier this year, Stahl obtained the controlling interest in Three Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, formerly owned by a subsidiary of Corporate Property Investors and then its merger partner, the publicly-traded real estate investment trust Simon Properties.

This summer, Stahl was completing negotiations to buy a portfolio of Helmsley properties controlled by Irving Schneider, including 1440 Broadway, 1328 Broadway, 245 Fifth Avenue and 261 Fifth Avenue.

Stahl's tough stances recently put him at odds with several of his long-time deal partners, real estate sources said, allegedly culminating in a bizarre scheme by one. Last year, Stahl was thrust into a very unwanted spotlight as the alleged target of a murder plot hatched by partner Abe Hirschfeld, who will face a trial on that charge beginning this week. The two developers apparently had a pact that the survivor would inherit their buildings, and they allegedly had been arguing over their operations for years. As the intended victim, Stahl's testimony is not central to the District Attorney's case, legal sources explained.

Born on June 16, 1924, Stahl grew up in Brooklyn, where his father Max was a butcher. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and obtained an accounting degree from New York University.

After a stint in the army, Stahl became a real estate broker in Manhattan, eventually enlisting his father to invest in properties. Their first building was purchased in 1949 from Samuel Greenberg, founder of what became the Eugene M. Grant and Company.

He is survived by his second wife, Cherie, his son Gregory, stepson Peter Neger, stepdaughter Simi Matera, and a sister, Beatrice Marans, all of Manhattan. He was also close to Maran's daughter, Beth Lonker, and her cousin Lili Goggle of Marblehead, Mass., who is the daughter of his late sister.

No photos could be obtained, but as one of his friends said, "He would have hated to have one published. It was not his style."

One city broker, who asked that his name not be used, remembered a recent excursion to the races with Stahl, a "numbers guy, who played the odds, and liked the game of chance."

"Stanley won eighteen grand at the track and he was happy - not because he won," laughed the broker recalling the moment, "but because his wife didn't know he had the money."
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Title Annotation:obituary
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 11, 1999
Words:1136
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