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Manhattan Real Estate Mogul Bernard Mendik Dies

Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York and former chairman of the Mendik Co., dead at 72.
May 30, 2001
Bernard Mendik, Photo Credit: REBNY
Bernard Mendik, Photo Credit: REBNY
Bernard H. Mendik, the chairman of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York and a successful real estate entrepreneur who assembled a large portfolio of Manhattan office buildings and other real estate holdings over a long career before merging his company with Vornado Realty Trust, died this past Memorial Day of cardiac arrest. He was 72 years old.

As chairman of the Mendik Co., he became one of New York City's biggest private property owners. At one time, his real estate interests totalled 12 million square feet and included such Manhattan landmarks as 330 Madison Avenue at 43rd Street; No. 2 and No. 11 Penn Plaza; 866 United Nations Plaza; 20 Broad Street; 909 Third Avenue and 1740 Broadway.

He said one of the most rewarding experiences of his career was the role his company played in restoring the 50-story art deco building at 570 Lexington Avenue and 51st Street that at one time served as the headquarters for RCA and General Electric.

Mendik joined the city's Real Estate Board in 1982 and was just beginning his tenth year as its chairman, serving as the industry's principal spokesman and advocate. Under Mendik, the Real Estate Board successfully persuaded the State Legislature to end or reduce certain real estate-related capital gains and transfer taxes and actively promoted legislation legalizing real estate investment trusts in New York.

In 1997, Mendik was very close to forming his own REIT when Michael D. Fascitelli, the former investment banker from Goldman Sachs who was lured to Vornado Realty Trust by its hard-charging chairman Steven Roth, convinced Mendik to join forces with Vornado.

The addition of four million square feet of office space in seven midtown Manhattan office buildings from Mendik's company transformed Vornado overnight from primarily an owner of suburban retail centers into a major player in New York's office market.

Mendik became Vornado's co-chairman and operated his Mendik Co. as a division within the REIT. Under his leadership, the trust acquired several other Manhattan office properties, including: 90 Park Avenue; 150 East 58th Street; 640 Fifth Avenue; and 888 Seventh Avenue.

Mendik resigned from the trust in October 1998 to look after his personal investments, although he remained a major stockholder in Vornado. Through his real estate investment firm, BHM Co., Mendik backed several other real estate investors and earlier this year, he bought back 570 Lexington Avenue, one of the properties he had sold to Vornado.

Mendik was born in Glasgow, Scotland and emigrated to the United States as an infant. He graduated from City College of New York in 1954 and received a law degree at New York University in 1958. He endowed a library in his name at the New York Law School and a professorship in otolaryngology at New York University Medical Center and supported research centers there and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Mendik also taught at New York University from 1960 to 1987. In 1996, Mendik received the city's Fiorello La Guardia Award for civic achievement presented by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
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