David Azrieli, Canadian-Israeli real estate mogul, dead at 92

Self-made billionaire real estate developer David Azrieli died Wednesday at the age of 92.

Born in Poland, Azrieli fled the country at 17, eventually immigrating to Canada in 1954.

He settled in Montreal, where he first dipped his toe into the real estate industry building suburban houses.

Sixty years later, the Azrieli family is worth an estimated $2.9 billion and, according to Forbes, is the 12th richest in Canada.

Through his various companies, Azrieli was involved in substantial real estate developments in Canada and in Israel, including some major shopping centres. 

The $400 million shopping, business and entertainment skyscraper complex in Tel Aviv, the Azrieli Centre, bears his name.

Azrieli served as chairman and founder of Azrieli Group, a real estate development and holding company that operates primarily in Israel. He stepped down from that position last week, citing health concerns. His daughter, Danna Azrieli, was appointed acting chairwoman of the company. 

An active philanthropist, Azrieli also established a sizable foundation in his family name. The foundation focuses its efforts on education, Holocaust commemoration, research and the arts.  

According to Forbes, he gave $560 million in cash and Azrieli Group stock to the foundation in 2013.

He was named to the Order of Canada in 1984 and to the Ordre National du Québec in 1999.

Carleton University’s architecture school was renamed in Azrieli’s honour after he made a sizable donation to his alma mater. He graduated with a master’s degree in architecture from Carleton in 1997 at age 75.

Concordia’s Institute of Israel Studies was established in 2011 with a $5 million donation from Azrieli. The institute also bears his name. 

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