Richard LeFrak to step back from day-to-day role at firm

Billionaire developer, 78, says it’s the next generation’s turn

Richard LeFrak

Richard LeFrak (Getty)

Developer Richard LeFrak is preparing to pass the baton at his eponymous firm. 

“I am going to be 78 years old, there is a time when you have to take a step back,” LeFrak told the Jersey Journal, which first reported the news Monday evening. “The next generation has to have the experiences of making decisions and living with what they do.” 

LeFrak, who has Parkinson’s Disease, remains CEO and intends to continue working at the company, which is one of the largest apartment landlords in New York City. He did not mention his decision during an appearance at the Jersey City Summit real estate event on Monday, but he did note that the LeFrak Organization began with his father, Sam LeFrak, and was continuing with his sons Jamie and Harrison. He has made repeated appearances on Forbes’ billionaires list

As part of the event’s programming, the developer sat down with The Real Deal publisher Amir Korangy on the 13th floor of Newport Tower, which is among the 5 million square feet of offices and more than 7,000 apartments that the firm has built along the Jersey City waterfront.  

When asked by Korangy if he had any messages for politicians, LeFrak said: “Not every developer is the devil.”

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He acknowledged that his company did not build in Jersey City out of “total altruism,” but said the city has “blossomed” since it began developing the 600-acre Newport area more than 40 years ago. 

Members of the laborers’ union demonstrated outside the event, and several managed to get inside and repeatedly interrupt the conversation. The union has been protesting outside LeFrak’s project at 30 Park Lane North, where a subcontractor is accused of failing to pay workers on time.

LeFrak said he originally expected the waterfront redevelopment to take 20 years. But with 22 project sites left in the Newport area, he said it will likely take at least 50. His sons estimate 60.

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