Milton Podolsky Passes Away
Commercial Real Estate Entrepreneur & Innovator Was 94
Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International is sad to announce the passing of its founder, Milton Podolsky. Milton passed peacefully over the weekend at the age of 94.
Milt Podolsky was one of the most highly recognized individuals in the Chicago business community, shaping a large portion of the O’Hare industrial market; no small feat for a man who didn’t begin his 50-plus year career in Commercial Real Estate until the age of 36.
Born in 1921, Milt attended DePaul University and studied at John Marshall Law School before serving in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. It wasn’t until 1957, while working at the drugstore his family owned at the corner of State and Elm Streets in Chicago, that a frequent customer impressed with Milton’s salesmanship encouraged him to consider a career in Commercial Real Estate.
With that, after careful deliberation, Milt began his career. Over the next five years he worked at two CRE firms in the Chicago market doing primarily industrial brokerage, and not too long after, started developing and managing buildings in what later became known as the O’Hare market. In 1962, Milt co-founded his first entrepreneurial firm. Less than a decade after that, in 1971, he established the organization bearing only his name, Podolsky and Associates, Ltd.
In the years since, Milt – soon joined by his sons, Steven and Randy, and for many years his daughter, Bonnie – continually expanded and evolved that organization into what is now Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International, a nationally recognized full service commercial real estate firm.
Podolsky|Circle still operates under Milt’s guiding principles, including the notion that “Negotiation isn’t war. Both sides must win.” His approach has proven successful throughout decades of business cycles, and still works because it’s a timeless one: “Relationships are our company’s bottom line.”
Milt’s professional accomplishments include the development of seven industrial parks and myriad individual industrial and office buildings, as well as Westbrook Corporate Center, a 1.1 million square-foot office complex in Westchester, IL.
Going beyond the brick-and-mortar aspect of the business, Milt set the tone for his company’s enduring active role in the Chicago and national CRE community, most notably as a Founder and President of the Association of Industrial Real Estate Brokers (‘AIRE’) and as a Chicago Chapter President and Chairman of numerous local and national committees of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (‘SIOR’). As an SIOR member, Milt was instrumental in establishing courses prerequisite to SIOR membership which have since become recognized as standard in the profession.
Milt was also a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (‘NAIOP’), the Urban Land Institute and the International Real Estate Federation among numerous other industry and community organizations.
As a consistent innovator and steward of industry standards, Milt was a frequent guest speaker at many events and prolific contributor to industry-related publications. So valuable was his perspective on both the high level and day-to-day operation of commercial real estate that a speech he delivered at the NAIOP annual convention in 1978 was published by the organization as a guide on how to manage commercial real estate.
Known as both as a humanist and a humorist to his family, friends and business associates, Milton coyly refuted his altruistic nature in his annual holiday letter from 1996 with a thought he’d originally written in a journal given to him by Bonnie years earlier: “In some ways, I am very selfish – I really try to live my life in such a way that somebody will miss me when I’m gone.”
Milton Podolsky is survived by his wife Lois, his brother Jerry, children Steven (Iris), Bonnie and Randy (Wendy), 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. His first wife, Phyllis predeceased him. His underlying life’s philosophy was simple: “Chase your dreams, take your risks, follow your hunches, love & be loved – and be sure to have fun doing it!”
Milton “Poppo” Podolsky will be remembered and missed for eternity.