By Joshua Burd
Edison Properties Co-Founder and Chairman Jerry Gottesman, an iconic figure in New Jersey commercial real estate whose career spanned more than six decades, has died at age 87.
A representative for the Newark-based company confirmed that Gottesman died of natural causes on Sunday. He was visiting Jerusalem at the time, but will be buried in New Jersey.
Gottesman, who co-founded Edison Properties with his late brother Harold, was best known for the company’s parking lot empire that began in 1956 on Edison Place in Newark. The firm’s holdings grew to include self-storage facilities and millions of square feet of property in Newark, New York and other major cities.
As the owner of several key sites around downtown Newark, Gottesman was a central figure in the long-awaited plan redevelop the surface parking lots around the Prudential Center, which opened in 2007. Those plans leapt forward in early 2016, when Gottesman and other stakeholders reached an agreement to create a sprawling park and mixed-use development in the area.
Since then, Edison Properties has kicked off an $80 million project to convert a historic warehouse along McCarter Highway into more than 400,000 square feet of modern, loft-style office space. Known as Ironside Newark, the project is meant to serve as the gateway to what will become known as Mulberry Commons.
“We will miss Jerry dearly and deeply appreciate all that he has done for Edison Properties during his lifetime,” the company said in a statement issued Monday morning. “This business is his legacy and we are all honored to have been able to work with him and learn from him. While his presence and influence will be missed, the Company will continue to operate as usual and continue to focus on honoring his memory.”
Gottesman’s death was first reported by NJBIZ. Below are additional excerpts from the statement issued by Edison Properties.
Jerry is survived by Paula Rachlin Gottesman, his wife of 55 years. Paula, a retired attorney, played an active role as Jerry’s most influential and trusted advisor in their shared business and philanthropic endeavors.
In addition to his wife, Jerry is survived by four daughters, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Jerry and Paula have been actively involved in various philanthropic initiatives over their lifetime and have deeply valued the act of giving back to their community. They have shaped the present and future of their local Jewish community in New Jersey and created national model programs that have transformed the fields of Jewish day school education and Jewish camps across North America.
This has included the creation of financial assistance programs, grants and significant endowments to enable access to quality Jewish day school education across their home community in Northern New Jersey. In addition, the Gottesmans made a significant gift to build a new school building and expanded campus for the Gottesman RTW Academy (the former Hebrew Academy of Morris County) and brought to their home community a program called PJ Library, which provides free Jewish books and music to families with young children.
The Gottesmans also supported the creation of “Lifetown,” a center in Livingston, NJ that will serve individuals with special needs from around New Jersey. The family also contributed to a research program at Johns Hopkins University which creates innovative approaches to treating neurofibromatosis (NF1).
Finally, over the past 15 years, the Edison Properties Newark Foundation has contributed generously to dozens of grass roots and established charitable organizations in Newark, New Jersey. The foundation focuses on supporting organizations involved with arts and culture, education, human services, and community development.