Harry LeFrak famously started one of New York's greatest real-estate dynasties on a 120-acre farm he bought in Brooklyn in the early 1900s.
Now, his grandchildren are showing their thanks to the borough with a project about five miles from LeFrak's original development site. Richard LeFrak and his three sisters are joining together to make a $10 million gift to the rebuilt Prospect Park skating rink scheduled to open in a few weeks.
The year-round rink, on the site of the old Wollman Rink, will be named after their parents, Samuel and Ethel LeFrak. The gift comes at a time that Brooklyn is seeing a flurry of new residential development and a burgeoning nightlife scene with the opening of Barclays Center and new bars and restaurants.
"We were in Brooklyn before it was cool," says Richard LeFrak, the head of the third generation of the LeFrak family, known for developing such mega-projects as LeFrak City in Queens and Newport City on the Jersey City waterfront.
The LeFraks and other real-estate families are among the region's biggest philanthropists. The families make the tax-deductible gifts partly to give back to the region where they've built enormous fortunes. But there's also a strong business motivation: the value of their real estate is tied to the health of New York.
"If I can't move this building, I better make sure New York is as good as it can be," says Mr. LeFrak.