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Their name on ice! Billionaire family buys branding for Prospect Park pond complex – Brooklyn Paper

Their name on ice! Billionaire family buys branding for Prospect Park pond complex

Almost there: The newly named Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center is slated for a December opening.
OTTO / Michael Moran

Apparently LeFrak-side did not have the same ring to it.

The LeFraks, a family of heirs to a real estate fortune worth billions, have given Prospect Park’s long-awaited ice skating mega-plex, formerly the Lakeside Center, a cash infusion of $10-million on the eve of its opening and, as a result, will get their parents’ names plastered across the facility. It is unclear just how the money will be used, but park administrators say that it could last the center a century.

The rec complex is set to open in December as the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, named after the late parents of real estate and oil tycoon Richard LeFrak and his three sisters, who Forbes ranks as the 74th-richest Americans. The gift comes at a time when all of the $74-million budget for building the park addition has been secured, but the managers of Brooklyn’s backyard say they have some ideas about what to do with the extra bundle.

At least some of the money will go towards sprucing up the entrance road and maintaining the surrounding areas, a Prospect Park Alliance spokesman said.

The long-awaited pond project will take up an area the size of 20 football fields and will boast indoor and outdoor ice skating in the winter, roller skating in the summer, a huge water fountain, and year-round educational programs. The only work left to do before the grand opening is additional planting and landscaping, according to the alliance.

Samuel LeFrak grew up in Brooklyn the grandson of a real estate developer and attended Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush. His family’s company made its fortune building middle- and working-class housing en masse, erecting some 200,000 houses and apartments in the New York metro area over the course of the 20th century. Today, his son Richard LeFrak heads the family real estate company, the LeFrak Organization, which owns 2,500 apartments in Brooklyn alone, a spokesman for the family said.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous donation by the entire LeFrak family,” said Prospect Park Alliance president Emily Lloyd. “The LeFrak family’s deep roots in Brooklyn itself make this gift particularly fitting.”

“Our family is proud to honor, through this gift, the memory of our parents, who would have surely embraced this magnificent Prospect Park redevelopment project that will bring so much joy and happiness to the people of Brooklyn,” Denise LeFrak said in a statement.

The LeFraks’ names are already stamped on a theater at Queens College, and a 4,600-unit development in Queens called LeFrak City, famously home to street rap pioneer Kool G Rap.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.

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