Jack W. Blumenfeld, 85, prominent Philadelphia developer

Jack W. Blumenfeld
Jack W. Blumenfeld
Posted: August 07, 2012

Jack W. Blumenfeld began his development career rather modestly while still a senior at Temple University.

"He started to build the carriage house in back of 526 Spruce St.," his son Eric recalled. The Spruce Street property was a boarding house owned by his mother, Molly, where the family also lived.

From the humble start of a carriage house in Society Hill in the late 1940s, Mr. Blumenfeld went on to establish a successful development firm that built projects in the Philadelphia region.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, Mr. Blumenfeld, president and chief executive of the Philadelphia firm Jack W. Blumenfeld & Co., died of cardiac failure at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, N.J.

Mr. Blumenfeld, 85, had homes in Center City and Ventnor, N.J.

"He was the most prolific developer of his time," said Bart Blatstein, president of Tower Investments and the developer of the Piazza at Schmidts, among others.

"He was a transformational developer," Blatstein said, praising Mr. Blumenfeld's construction of Abbotts Square. "That one project transformed Queen Village."

The Blumenfeld firm was responsible for prominent buildings and complexes in the Philadelphia region, his son said, including the 1500 Locust St. high-rise and the Pennsport Mall in South Philadelphia.

The firm has its headquarters at Abbotts Square, which Mr. Blumenfeld built as a mixed-use development - residential, commercial, office, parking - on the site of the former Abbotts Dairies, reaching from Second to Third Streets and Lombard to South Streets.

Jack Blumenfeld's final effort was a bit less ambitious, but it had a personal touch.

"My father's last project," Eric Blumenfeld said, "was, he renovated the original horse-drawn milk carriage," one of the dairy's survivors from the days before milk trucks.

"He had it renovated and delivered to my house the week before he passed."

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Blumenfeld graduated from Central High School in 1945 and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration at Temple University in 1949.

"I don't think he ever worked for anybody else," Eric Blumenfeld said. "He starts his own company, doing site work - putting in storm water lines and underground infrastructure.

"Then he becomes a home-building firm in Delaware County."

For his first construction effort, "just outside of Media," Eric Blumenfeld said, "he built five houses. He used to sleep in the sample."

Mr. Blumenfeld went on to become a developer and general contractor, his son said, and at his firm's height in the 1970s and 1980s, it employed 350 workers.

In addition to making its mark on the Philadelphia region, the firm built projects from Lancaster County to the Jersey Shore.

Besides his son, Mr. Blumenfeld is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jane; another son, David; a daughter, Robin Switzenbaum; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., with interment in West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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