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Myles Tanenbaum, Mall Builder, Political Activist, Dies at 82

September 27, 2012 By:
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Myles H. Tanenbaum

Myles H. Tanenbaum, 82, a man who held court in fields as diverse as mall development, synagogue construction and building a springtime football team for Philadelphia, died Aug. 31 at the Quadrangle in Haverford, battling Alzheimer’s disease.

A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Penn­sylvania, as well as Penn law school, the Gladwyne resident made his mark in the main as a partner in Kravco, whose area real estate empire extended to King of Prussia, where the Plaza and the Court unfolded under his watch, in addition to the Oxford Valley Mall.

In an interview in his office in King of Prussia, he told the Jewish Exponent some 35 years ago that he envisioned malls as a natural form of entertainment for shoppers eager to make their purchases in an area that all family members could enjoy themselves. Indeed, the establishment of the King of Prussia Mall and the Plaza was instrumental in the explosion of interest and traffic along the Route 202 Corridor.

The developer left Kravco in 1988, several years after he had already become president of EQK Realty Investors.

Politically, Tanenbaum had been co-chair of the local Republican Jewish Coalition, co-writing an op-ed for the Jewish Exponent touting John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008.

Investing time and effort in the Jewish community was also important to this Queens, N.Y., native. Indeed, more than 50 years ago, Tanenbaum joined other area residents to provide funding for a new synagogue in Cheltenham, Congregation Melrose B’nai Israel, which recently moved to rent space from Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park.

It wasn’t the only building of Jewish interest he helped establish: Named after his parents, the Jeanne and Bennett Tanenbaum Music Conservatory proved a notable addition to the cultural landscape of Netivot, Israel. Tanenbaum also served in the past as president of the National Museum of American Jewish History and served as co-chair of its capital campaign as it prepared its move to its new home in Society Hill.

A member of seemingly countless boards, including that of his alma mater, where he also was instrumental in establishing the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton and fund­ing the law school’s Tanenbaum Hall, the real estate mo­gul, a certified public accountant, wasn’t all business. He held a certain love in his heart for sports and perhaps got one of his biggest kicks out of becoming a principal owner of the Philadelphia Stars in the just-established United States Football League in 1983.

The team captured the title in 1984, the league’s second year of operation, after losing in the championship game in 1983, all the while sporting the colors of another of Tanenbaum’s alma maters, Central High School.

The fledgling league didn’t make it past the third year; the Stars also captured the flag that final year but from their new home in Baltimore.

Tanenbaum is survived by his daughter, Sharon; sons Stev­en and Lawrence; and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by daughter Nicole and wife Ruthe Freedman.

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