The LeFraks changed the face of New York and now they are leaving their mark on Brooklyn’s backyard

Their name on ice! Billionaire family buys branding for Prospect Park pond complex

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Apparently LeFrak-side did not have the same ring to it.

The LeFraks, a family of heirs to a real estate fortune worth billions, have given Prospect Park’s long-awaited ice skating mega-plex, formerly the Lakeside Center, a cash infusion of $10-million on the eve of its opening and, as a result, will get their parents’ names plastered across the facility. It is unclear just how the money will be used, but park administrators say that it could last the center a century.

The rec complex is set to open in December as the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, named after the late parents of real estate and oil tycoon Richard LeFrak and his three sisters, who Forbes ranks as the 74th-richest Americans. The gift comes at a time when all of the $74-million budget for building the park addition has been secured, but the managers of Brooklyn’s backyard say they have some ideas about what to do with the extra bundle.

At least some of the money will go towards sprucing up the entrance road and maintaining the surrounding areas, a Prospect Park Alliance spokesman said.

The long-awaited pond project will take up an area the size of 20 football fields and will boast indoor and outdoor ice skating in the winter, roller skating in the summer, a huge water fountain, and year-round educational programs. The only work left to do before the grand opening is additional planting and landscaping, according to the alliance.

Samuel LeFrak grew up in Brooklyn the grandson of a real estate developer and attended Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush. His family’s company made its fortune building middle- and working-class housing en masse, erecting some 200,000 houses and apartments in the New York metro area over the course of the 20th century. Today, his son Richard LeFrak heads the family real estate company, the LeFrak Organization, which owns 2,500 apartments in Brooklyn alone, a spokesman for the family said.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous donation by the entire LeFrak family,” said Prospect Park Alliance president Emily Lloyd. “The LeFrak family’s deep roots in Brooklyn itself make this gift particularly fitting.”

“Our family is proud to honor, through this gift, the memory of our parents, who would have surely embraced this magnificent Prospect Park redevelopment project that will bring so much joy and happiness to the people of Brooklyn,” Denise LeFrak said in a statement.

The LeFraks’ names are already stamped on a theater at Queens College, and a 4,600-unit development in Queens called LeFrak City, famously home to street rap pioneer Kool G Rap.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018: Added a quote from Prospect Park Alliance president Emily Lloyd.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
Is it Le-Frak or Fef-rak?
Nov. 19, 2013, 10:18 am
John Wasserman from Crown Heights says:
Excuse me for pointing out what is clearly on everyone's minds, but couldn't this "family" have donated the money earlier, perhaps during the design phase, and created a "swimming pool" in the new "facility?"
Additionally, and pardon this for being obvious as well, but LeFrak sounds too similar to Fracking, the upstate shale drilling "practice" that has all too many of us "up in arms" and "uncomfortable" -not to mention French? Perhaps, and again I am terribly sorry for continuing to point out what I know to already be on the readers' minds, but would it not have been too much to request this family adapt a more "American" sounding name? I would recommend, and excuse me for the suggestion, Wasserman. Pardon the interruption and please enjoy your day.
Nov. 19, 2013, 10:41 am
Mandy from Red Hook says:
John Wasserman is right - weren't we opposed to Frakking?
Another example of the Republican war on women. My uterus, my business. Thank you very little.
Nov. 19, 2013, 10:47 am
Yiddishe Mommaleh from Flatbush says:
They used to be Lefraks back in the day when people were more hamishe.
Nov. 19, 2013, 11:17 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
If I may get a word in, as the above statement at 10:47am is far from a true Wasserman, I like to, and forgive me for saying this, say, that J.W. from C.H. has a very good point. Having said that, I’d like to add that "The Wasserman" center does have a very nice "ring" to it.
Thanks for reading. John Wasserman.
Nov. 19, 2013, 12:02 pm
claire from cobble hill says:
What about LeBillionaires? That's all that matters these days.
Nov. 20, 2013, 11:10 am
Pietro from Park Slope says:
I for one think that's great.
The Lefraks are giving real money to a nice cause that's not politically slanted and free of social agendas- and they shoud be thanked for that.
See you on the ice-and thanks again!
Nov. 20, 2013, 1:20 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: