Home News Robert Toll, co-founder of Toll Brothers housing developers, dies at 81

Robert Toll, co-founder of Toll Brothers housing developers, dies at 81

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Co-founder of the Toll Brothers homebuilding firm that transformed rural areas across the country into planned communities of sprawling homes and acres of land, but a conservationist who sought to stop suburban sprawl He died at his home on October 7, although he faced resistance from others. in Manhattan. he was 81 years old.

Bruce, Toll’s brother and business partner, was confirmed dead. Mr. Toll had health problems related to Parkinson’s disease.

After founding the company, the brothers built the first model colonial-style home outside Philadelphia. Toll Brothers The company has quickly become one of the most ambitious developers pushing to build a new generation of Tony Commuter enclaves far from cities in farmlands and wooded forests.

The Toll Brothers’ blueprints include targeted land purchases, calls for quick zoning approvals, and pre-designed homes (now often sold for $1 million or more) with great high-ceilinged rooms and typified by the elaborate master suite).The business model has made Mr. Toll and his brother wealthy and the company Fortune 500 listIt also opened the door for philanthropic work by Mr. Toll, including programs in Maine. seed of peacebrings together children from conflict zones around the world to share their experiences at previous summer camps.

Meanwhile, Mr. Toll’s company has been praised for its growth and outraged for its tough corporate vision.

It has been the subject of various complaints over the years due to alleged construction defects and objections to the “McMansion” lots disrupting life in the once idyllic area. in April, Activist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.climbed a tree in an attempt to stop the 57-unit Toll Brothers development known as Concord Pines. (inside Washington areaToll Brothers has more than a dozen projects, from $2.5 million+ homes in the Arden development in Great Falls, Virginia, to rental condominiums in Navy Yard. )

Toll’s company touts its brand as “luxury” living, but admits its developers have their own image issues to overcome. Gold chain and big Cadillac.

James W. Hughes, professor of urban planning and policy development at Rutgers University, said:

In the 1980s, baby boomers were trying to “trade up” in a burgeoning economy, he said. I was trying to control the density by setting limits such as

“Thor has been perfectly responsive to the kind of development they are pushing,” said Hughes. “This is when they really took off.”

But Mr. Toll, the son of a developer, knew mistakes could be made in land deals. As a joking but unassuming reminder that he was waiting for his colleagues who took unnecessary risks, he kept a pitchfork in the corner of his office, symbolizing a jab that one could anticipate making a mistake. was doing.

Robert Irwin Toll was born on December 30, 1940 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Philadelphia. His father was involved in real estate in the Philadelphia area and struggled during the Great Depression before rebuilding his career.

He graduated from Cornell University in 1963, where he majored in political science, and received a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He briefly worked at the Philadelphia law firm Wolf Block before starting his Toll Brothers with his younger brother. brother, Bruce.

“We built two houses,” Toll recalls. “Instead of selling them, I used them as samples for a lot I owned across the street.” A contract was signed to build 20.

“These homes are selling for $1 million today,” said Bruce Tolle.

At the time, the suburbs had surpassed the first wave of post-war truck house development. Mr. Toll and his brother were among the first developers to recognize how trends in highway construction and retail were changing. Malls open up areas that were still mostly farmland.

In the late 1960s, Toll wrote in The New York Times: 2005 essay, was tracked down by a man who had just purchased a Toll Brothers home in farmland Pennsylvania. A farmer was walking through a man’s backyard with a pig. The farmer told Mr. Toll that his family, like his namesake William Penn in Pennsylvania, had a colonial-era contract that gave him access to water on the Toll lot. “It was true…they had to buy the rights back from the farmers for about $30,000,” he wrote.

As Toll Brothers has grown, it now operates in 60 markets in 24 states, but is subject to volatility in local politics, including pressure on authorities to change zoning rules to discourage development. The situation was becoming increasingly frustrating for Mr. Tolle.

“I fully support conservationists who buy land to save it. This is the right way to do it,” he wrote in The Times. “But some towns think they can change their zoning laws by coming up with bogus reasons why we can’t build after we apply for parcel approval.”

Still, some of Toll’s challenges came from within. A 2001 Boston Globe investigation found a variety of glaring flaws, including improperly cut wall panels and other shortcuts, amid growing nationwide allegations that the construction of Thor’s Brothers was problematic. rice field. At the time, Toll Brothers issued a statement to his Globe stating, “No national homebuilder has more satisfied customers than Toll’s.”

In 2010, Toll Brothers $25 million settlement In an investor lawsuit alleging the company overstated its ability to manage a housing slump during the Great Recession. (The company went public in 1986.) Toll Bros. denied the act.

Company bounced back However, as the economy recovers, about 10,000 homes are now being built annually. Forbes estimated Toll’s net worth at $1.1 billion.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Toll leaves behind a wife of 38 years, the ex-Jane Snyder Goldfein. 5 children; and 12 grandchildren. Mr. Toll stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Toll Brothers in 2010.

In 1990, Mr. Tolle and his wife pledged to help 58 third graders in a predominantly black primary school in West Philadelphia. say yes to education Foundation. The couple paid for the student’s school program and later tuition at the university and technical college.

One of the students, 40-year-old Naeemah Nelson, received a degree in anthropology from George Washington University in 2004. tuition cover) and received a master’s degree in business from the University of North Carolina in 2012. Her career has ranged from local initiatives in Philadelphia, such as helping ex-convicts find jobs, to working with General Her Electric on development programs in Egypt and Indonesia. She also participated in her Say Yes to Education committees across the country helping the next generation.

“I fully understood the value of Tolls’ generosity,” said Nelson, who now works for healthcare technology company Medtronic. “I wanted to give back and make an impact.”

of Southern In Maine, Toll purchased the site of Camp Powhatan, where he was a counselor when he was 18. The site became the Seed of Peace, an organization that brings together youth and educators in areas of ethnic and political tension, such as the Balkans. , India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, including Israelis and Arabs.

According to Toll, the idea was to have them “sleep together, eat together, go to conflict resolution sessions, and discuss their anger with their opponents face-to-face.”

“We have a golden opportunity to end the conflict,” Toll said. As an avid sailor, Mr. Toll occasionally taught boating classes.

Coby Sadan joined Seeds of Peace in 1994 as a 13-year-old student from south Tel Aviv and later returned as a counselor. When Sadan was accepted to Yale University in 2002, he was cared for by Mr. Toll and his wife, who became a “surrogate family.” He found Tolle’s optimism about life, business, and liberal democratic ideals to be a point of inspiration.

“It may sound like a small thing, but his views really made an impact,” said Sadan, who went on to Harvard Law School. “It really set the trajectory of my life.”

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