Jerome “Jerry” Gottesman, the co-founder of New Jersey-based real estate development firm Edison Properties and New York-based self-storage operator Manhattan Mini Storage, died of natural causes on Sept. 10. He was 87.
Gottesman fell ill during a recent trip to Jerusalem with his wife, Paula, according to a statement from his family. “Jerry was a towering figure in both physical stature and as a leader of our family, the Jewish and Newark, N.J., philanthropic communities and Edison Properties, the business that he co-founded in 1956 with his late brother Harold,” the family said. “Jerry was admired by those who knew him, and he cared deeply about those who worked for him.”
Gottesman started his real estate career with one Newark parking lot in 1956. Today, Edison ParkFast is a network of 40 garages and lots throughout Baltimore, New York City and Northeast New Jersey. Manhattan Mini was founded in 1978 and today operates 17 self-storage facilities throughout New York City. Edison’s other holdings include workspace offices, executive offices and pre-built suites, The Hippodrome office building, and The Ludlow, a luxury residential high-rise on NYC’s Lower East Side.
The Edison portfolio includes 3 million square feet in Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y., and “several” million square feet in Newark, Baltimore and other cities, according to the company website. The firm currently employs about 600 people.
“Jerry took immense pride in the business that he began with his brother, Harold, which has grown and sustained his family, his community, and the hundreds of families whose extraordinary contributions have made it so successful. The business will continue to honor Jerry’s legacy,” according to the family’s statement. “As a family, we cherish and honor Jerry’s passion for Edison, its employees and its customers, and we are committed to protecting his legacy for years to come.”
“We will miss Jerry dearly and deeply appreciate all that he has done for Edison Properties during his lifetime,” company officials said in a statement. “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 served as company chair until his death. A succession plan previously established by Edison directed the firm be run by its executive management team, according to a source.
Gottesman was also a noted philanthropist to the Jewish community in New Jersey. Among the donations he and his wife gave through the Paula and Jerry Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation were a $5 million grant in 2013 to help the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ create a community-based Jewish camp program and a $15 million “challenge grant” in 2014 to the Hebrew Academy of Morris County as part of a capital and endowment campaign, according to a source. The academy subsequently changed its name to the Gottesman RTW Academy and was scheduled to host Gottesman’s funeral on Tuesday.
The Gottesmans also supported the launch of Lifetown, a Livingston, N.J.-based center that serves individuals with special needs. In 2015, the Gottesman foundation gave a $10 million grant to four Jewish day schools in New Jersey to attract new students and freeze tuition for 10 years, a source reported. The couple has also given more than $500,000 to PJ Library, an organization that provides free books and educational materials to young Jewish families around the world.
At the time of his death, Gottesman’s net worth was estimated at more than $550 million, according to an Edison spokesperson, who told a source he left a “substantial” portion of his estate to charity.
He is survived by Paula, his wife of 55 years; four daughters; 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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