Since 1905, the company has maintained one of
the most extensive real estate portfolios in the United States, having created tens of
thousands of apartments in hundreds of buildings, millions of square feet of commercial
and office space, and billions of dollars in property values.
Prior to establishing the Lefrak Organization in America in 1905, the
LeFrak family had been builders in Europe for two generations. A great-grandfather,
Maurice LeFrak, was a developer in France in the 1840s. Toward the turn of the century,
Maurices son, Aaron, and grandson, Harry, came to New York City and began a modest
building company, mainly developing apartments for immigrants on Manhattans Lower
East Side. Harry LeFrak also designed and manufactured customized glass for Louis Comfort
Lefrak Tower, the first modern office uilding in Queens, is the focal
point of a five building mid-city office complex.
Never a company to stand on precedent, the Lefrak
Organization also broke with tradition in the construction of the Park Vendome in Queens,
the worlds first high-rise residential-retail-commercial-judicial office building
complex, for which Frank Lloyd Wright worked as a consultant. Located near the geographic
center of New York City, the Vendomes success led to the creation of Lefrak Tower,
the first modern office skyscraper in Queens, and the focal point for a new five-building
mid-city office complex.
One of the companys greatest triumphs was Lefrak City, a gargantuan
complex of 18-story buildings with 5,000 apartments, sprawling across 40 acres of land
adjacent to the bustling Long Island Expressway in Queens. "The land was owned by
William Waldorf Astor," recalls Sam LeFrak. "At that time, it still had Quonset
huts on it with hundreds of World War II veterans and their families living there. Before
that, it was called Marys Dump, because they dumped fill there. I broke ground in
June 1960. And from the start it was a huge success. All air-conditioned, at $40 per room.
Imagine that in this day and age! "And," he says, "it was privately built
and privately financed. No government subsidies. Because, I like to be my own advisor. I
dont like to work with bureaucrats and politicians."
The Lefrak Organization revolutionized the building industry with the
"Total Facilities for Total Living" strategy Lefrak conceived for vast
communities like Lefrak City, which won several awards for distinctive design and
community planning. A self-contained development with its own office park, Lefrak City
provided residents and office workers with year-round, on-site facilities for recreation,
education, shopping, transportation and entertainment: truly a "City Within a