Anthony A. Albanese, the respected real estate developer who co-founded the Albanese Organization and was its chairman emeritus, passed away on Feb. 14, 2012 at the age of 82.
Recognized for his vision, commitment and integrity, Mr. Albanese always viewed real estate development as a vehicle for improving the communities in which the firm worked. He summarized this approach when asked about his work, saying, “In all our projects we want the building to be a positive addition to the community, strengthening the fabric of the neighborhood.”
The son of Italian immigrants, Mr. Albanese and his four siblings were raised by his widowed mother in the South Ozone Park area of Queens, where his passion for real estate development began and continued for the next six decades. With his brother Vincent, Mr. Albanese, at the age of 19, borrowed $1,000 to buy his first vacant parcel of land down the street from where he grew up in South Ozone Park, Queens. Together they started building one house, then two homes in Jamaica, Queens Village and Bellerose, and then their first six-story apartment building in Jamaica Estates. In 1958, their younger brother, Joseph, joined with Vincent to form Albanese & Albanese, which has ever since represented the firm in its various real estate development activities. Their sister, Mary Matthews, also added her expertise as an interior designer to many of her brothers’ projects.
The scope and breadth of the projects Mr. Albanese undertook with his brothers continued to expand, including office buildings that strengthened the economic and social fabric of Garden City where they established the firm’s headquarters in the 1970s. It was then that the firm also entered the Manhattan real estate market. In their first Manhattan project Anthony and Vincent acquired and assembled 12 underutilized commercial and residential properties on the eastside near the United Nations and developed the 52-story pyramid-topped condominium known as 100 United Nations Plaza.
As the new century began, this focus on quality design and enhanced residential environments led the firm to become pioneers in the area of sustainable development. Encouraged by Mr. Albanese, his son Russell, and Vincent’s son Christopher, successfully spearheaded the firm’s effort to become the developer of the first high rise residential building in the country to be built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Environmental Design guidelines. The building was under construction within the shadow of the World Trade Center in Battery Park City on the day of the September 11 attacks. In the aftermath when the prospects of the project were in doubt, Mr. Albanese led the firm in its commitment to resume and complete the building named The Solaire, which became the first new building completed downtown after September 11th. The Solaire also became the first of three internationally recognized sustainable buildings that the Albanese Organization completed in Battery Park City. Currently, the firm is developing properties in the West Chelsea and Times Square areas of Manhattan and in the fall of 2011 was designated by the Town of Babylon as master developer of a major community revitalization project in Wyandanch.
Improving the communities in which he worked, lived and developed came instinctively to Mr. Albanese, and that desire to improve his part of the world extended beyond his real estate activities. Mr. Albanese served on the board of trustees of St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn for 20 years. During his tenure on the Board, his advice and expertise as a real estate developer were instrumental in the hospital’s expansion of its facilities, as well as in the construction of the patient care and surgical pavilion. Prior to moving to Garden City, Mr. Albanese was a resident of the Village of Plandome Manor, where he served as a Village Trustee for 18 years, between 1969 and 1987. He was also an active supporter of many civic and charitable organizations in the New York metropolitan area.
Always characterizing himself as a “team leader” rather than a “boss” he led by example. Mr. Albanese was proud of and never forgot his origins. It was part of his leadership style. Fundamentally, Anthony Albanese was a developer of people, not just buildings. Throughout his life he continued to inspire, motivate, and empower his associates and employees, many of whom have been with the firm for decades, all of whom mourn his passing.
Mr. Albanese is survived by his wife of 62 years, Annette; their children, Deborah Klein, Toni Albanese, Russell Albanese and Elena D’Agostino; thirteen grandchildren; one great-grandchild; his brothers, Vincent M. Albanese and Joseph R. Albanese; and his sister Mary Matthews.
Donations in his memory may be made to The American Heart Association, 125 E. Bethpage Rd., Plainview, NY 11803.