By the family
Mar. 11, 2020: Charles J. Urstadt died peacefully at his home in Bronxville, NY, on March 3, 2020. He will be remembered for his dedication to his family, his success in the real estate business, and his contributions to his community through his public service.
Born in Manhattan in 1928, he was raised in the Bronx, where his parents and grandparents owned and managed several residential buildings. Jay, as his family called him, graduated from Bronx High School of Science, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Cornell University Law School. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy, aboard the carrier U.S.S. Bennington.
Upon his discharge from the Navy, he began his long career in the real estate business as an attorney for Nevius, Brett & Kellogg, developer William Zeckendorf and the real estate division of Alcoa.
In 1967, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller asked him to join state government. As the commissioner of housing and community renewal, Urstadt oversaw state sponsored housing projects; was instrumental in the creation of the Urban Development Corporation (now known as the Empire State Development Corp.); and spearheaded new legislation to decontrol rent regulated apartments and prevent municipalities from enacting local rent laws that were more stringent than those passed by the State Legislature.
In 1968, Urstadt took on the additional job of chairman and president of the newly created Battery Park City Authority, a state agency established to manage the formation of 92 acres of new land filled in along the Hudson River waterfront. Under his leadership, the original master plan was created, including the highly praised requirement that one-third of the new land be set aside for parks and other public purposes. The development has been lauded as one of the most successful planned communities in US history.
After his government service ended in 1979, he returned to his real estate businesses, which included ownership of the residential firm of Douglas L. Elliman Co. and the commercial brokerage Pearce, Urstadt, Mayer & Greer. He was named CEO of Hubbard Real Estate Investment Trust in 1989 and redirected the company to focus on investing in neighborhood community shopping centers in the suburban New York region. The company was later renamed Urstadt Biddle Properties and currently owns 82 properties containing approximately 5.3 million square feet of space.
While on leave from the Navy in 1956, he met Elinor McClure Funk of Santa Monica. They married the following year. She survives him along with their son Charles D. Urstadt and his husband David Bernard; their daughter Catherine Urstadt Biddle, her husband Willing L. Biddle and their daughters Elinor and Dana; and his brother Jeffery Urstadt.
His sense of humor and love of his family will be greatly missed.
The memorial service, originally schedule for March 19, 2020 at the Reformed Church of Bronxville, has been postponed to a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Charles J. Urstadt may be made to NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. Please make checks payable to NYP Lawrence Hospital (in memory of Charles J. Urstadt in memo line) and send to: NYP Lawrence Hospital, 55 Palmer Avenue, PH4, Bronxville, NY 10708. Online giving: https://www.nyp.org/lawrence/give