West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 9 | August 01 - 07, 2007


Mollie Bender, 85, of Gottlieb real estate family

Mollie Bender, partner with her late brother Bill Gottlieb, her husband, Irving Bender, and her son, Neil Bender, in the family real estate business, died July 1 in her West Village home at the age of 85.

As a member of a real estate company with a reputation for seldom, if ever, selling a property, she played a vital role in keeping intact the identity and characters of the West Village and Gansevoort Market District, in particular. Some of the company’s properties have been long vacant, however, such as the landmarked Northern Dispensary at Waverly Pl. and Grove St. The company also owns property in Chelsea and Gramercy and on the Lower East Side.

After Bill Gottlieb’s death in 1999, Mollie Bender ran the business with her husband and her son.

With the proceeds earned in the 1950s and ’60s from Poor Joe’s, a bar and grill in Washington, D.C., Mollie and Irving Bender provided the seed money for Bill Gottlieb to buy his first buildings in Manhattan. Over the next four decades, they grew a company that currently owns more than 100 properties.

She was born in Coney Island in 1922.

She was an active supporter last March of the Landmark Preservation Commission’s designation of the Keller Hotel, 150 Barrow St. A family spokesperson said the landmarked building would undergo major renovations overseen by L.P.C. to be completed in 2008.

Mollie Bender was also a strong supporter for the preservation and conversion into a park of the High Line, the derelict railroad viaduct running from the Meatpacking District to W. 34th St. She was the lone dissenter among a group of 38 adjacent property owners known as Chelsea Property Owners who tried to have the elevated railroad demolished.

“My mother was remarkable for her lifelong dedication to her family and work,” said Neil Bender. “She was a loving and caring wife, mother and grandmother, as well as a skilled and seasoned businesswoman who worked six days a week up to the time of her passing. Her legacy lives on in the wonderful New York neighborhoods where she worked and lived.”

She was active in her synagogue and several charities, including the nonprofit Autism Speaks. Her husband, two adult children and three grandchildren survive.

Rabbi Daniel Alder presided over the funeral at Plaza Memorial Chapel in Manhattan. Burial was in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens.

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