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Realtor, Age 100, to Be Honored : Zuckerman's Life Filled With Caring, Versatility

September 08, 1985|EVELYN De WOLFE

When the city wanted to widen Olive Street, it demanded that Zuckerman cede a five-foot easement that would have disrupted the major tenants and have cost him more than 3,000 square feet of rental space.

Engineering Challenge

After a long dispute, Zuckerman was ordered to remove five feet frontage from all 13 stories. But instead, Zuckerman devised a clever alternate plan with the help of an avant-garde Stanford University engineer.

"The plan we had was to remove a five-foot section where one wing joined the main section of the building and to move that wing five feet back," Zuckerman explained.

A track was devised on which the building was to be moved, inch by inch, through a whistle signal arrangement with workmen manning jacks on each respective floor, he recalled.

"There was fear that the building might topple, but we were so confident it would work, that myself, my wife and my son Ted stood in the basement during the operation. It was a feat that was widely publicized."

Another Zuckerman triumph was a radical proposal that he made during the depths of the Depression. When it hit, Zuckerman shocked the Board of Realtors by siding with the jobless and the unemployed in proposing a moratorium on foreclosures of residential property.

"The governor heard my suggestion and called a special session to consider the action that eventually became law in California," Zuckerman said. "The plan was so successful that it was adopted nationally by President Roosevelt as a way of ameliorating the effects of the nation's economic disaster."

Lew Zuckerman has been blessed with ingenuity.

When Prohibition forced the closure of his liquor business, he was permitted to keep the remaining stock for his personal use and stored dozens of cases in the basement of his home. But, while, on a visit to Europe, his house was broken into and all the liquor was taken.

When police were unable to track down the burglars, Zuckerman put out the word that he was interested in buying liquor on the black market. Detectives were present when the delivery was made and Zuckerman's proof of ownership was the notations in Yiddish that he had made on the liquor cases in an inconspicuous place.

Zuckerman became associated with many partners over the years, among them Phillip Lyon, who later co-developed the Beverly Center. Zuckerman also became the leasing agent for many eastern chain stores seeking to locate branches in Los Angeles.

On the walls of his small but comfortable room are photographs and mementoes that tell a long and full life's story. But the most telling of all clues, is the small silver thimble Zuckerman carries with him--like the one he used in tailoring for so many years--to remind himself of his humble origins and how much one can accomplish in this land of opportunity, "providing you set your mind to it."

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