Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Abe Pollin Passes Away

Abe Pollin and his wife, Irene.  Photo: Verizon Center website.

Abe Pollin, 85, owner of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center, has passed away.  He was struggling with a rare brain disease.

Pollin invested in Penn Quarter area when few would do so, building the Verizon Center (then the MCI Center) with approximately $220 million of his own funds in 1997. 

“I had two goals when I decided to build this building,” said Abe Pollin. “The first was that if I was building in downtown Washington, the nation’s capital, it had to be the best building of its kind in the country. The second was to be the catalyst that turned the city around.” 

The large-scale investment in the area did indeed spark the current revitalization with restaurants, entertainment, retail, and museums.

In 2007, Pollin received a $50 million in public funding from the DC government to upgrade the Verizon Center.

In October, the DC Chamber of Commerce recognized Abe Pollin and Irene, his wife of 67 years, with its first-ever Lifetime Business Legacy Award.  As Pollin said at that event, ""When we decided to build the arena downtown we hoped to begin a revitalization of our great city, however we never imagined the remarkable growth that has occurred. We're thrilled we've been able to give back to the city that's always been good to us and deserves the best in sports and entertainment."

One of his legacies is the 6th and I Historic Synagogue, which he, along with developer Doug Jemal and others, rescued from being turned into a nightclub in 2002 and renovated and restored to its original use. 

Mayor Fenty named a day (December 3, in honor of his 84th birthday) and a street (Abe Pollin Way on the 600 Block of F Street NW) in Pollin's honor.

Housing Complex has a nice interview of developer Herb Miller on Abe Pollin.

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