Mollie Bender, was a prominent figure in Manhattan real estate who played a vital role in keeping intact the identity and charm.
Often described as a woman ahead of her time, Mrs. Bender spent over 40 years working side by side with her brother William Gottlieb and husband Irving Bender in the family real estate business. Using the proceeds they earned from bar keeping in the 1950’s and 60’s at Poor Joe’s, a bar and grill in Washington, DC, Mr. and Mrs. Bender provided the seed money for the purchase of William Gottlieb’s first buildings. Together over the next four decades the three grew and ran a real estate company that currently owns properties concentrated in Chelsea, Meatpacking District, West Village, and the Lower East Side. After her brother’s death in 1999, Mrs. Bender ran the business with her husband and son Neil Bender.
Born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, Mrs. Bender was a true New Yorker with a great love of the city. She was described as a tough negotiator with a natural intuition about people and an exceptional understanding of the real estate business.
Those who knew her remember her strong dedication to work, which brought her to the office six to seven days a week for most of her career. True to family custom. Mrs. Bender was a visible but unpretentious figure in the West Village neighborhood where she worked and lived. She placed a great premium on getting to know each shopkeeper, restaurateur and tenants, and was steadfast in her view that individual and family-owned businesses should retain a strong presence locally.
One of her most gratifying recent work accomplishments was the successful landmarking of the Keller Hotel at Barrow Street. The building will undergo major renovations in cooperation with the New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which are anticipated to begin shortly.
She was also a strong supporter of the creation of High Line Park running from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District, and, unbeknownst to many was the sole dissenter in an unsuccessful movement to demolish the 1.5-mile elevated railway among a group of 38 adjacent property owners.
- The New York Times, July 2007