By: Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 17, 2007
Howard Polinger, 91, a developer whose high-rise apartments, retail complexes and office buildings helped
change the landscape of metropolitan Washington over the past 60 years, died of acute leukemia Dec. 7 at
Bethesda's Suburban Hospital. He lived in Chevy Chase.
Mr. Polinger began building single-family homes in Montgomery and Prince George's counties after the end of
World War II. Within 10 years, his company and its affiliates moved into multifamily housing, starting with 500
garden-style units in Quebec Terrace in Silver Spring. His high-rise apartments and condominiums included
Highland House in Chevy Chase, Whitehall Apartments in Bethesda and Congressional Towers in Rockville.
Howard Polinger built
buildings in the area.
He and his late brother, Milton, also developed commercial and mixed-use projects such as the Chevy Chase
Building, the Van Ness Center and the Bethesda Place complex.
They partnered with the late Belford V. and Marjorie M. Lawson to build Park Southern Apartments in Southeast Washington in 1966, the
first federally subsidized integrated real estate collaboration in the city.
The units were built for families who couldn't afford conventional housing but were ineligible for public housing. A small stir arose when
Mr. Polinger advertised tenant income requirements.
"We felt from the start that it would be the only fair way to present our project to the people," he told a Washington Post reporter in 1966.
Moderate-income families had to know they were welcome, he said. To qualify for the $122 to $130 monthly rent of a two-bedroom
apartment, a family had to have an annual income of at least $8,150.
Mr. Polinger was also known for giving promising African Americans a start in the real estate business, said H.R. Crawford, a real estate
investor who went to work for him at Park Southern as a property manager.
Mr. Polinger was born in Norfolk and moved to Washington in 1926 as a boy. He graduated from Central High School in the District and
from the old Columbus University, now part of Catholic University, where he also got a law degree in 1940.
During World War II, he served in the Army in England and France and was in Paris at the time of its liberation. After the war, he returned
to Washington and worked briefly for the federal government before starting his company in 1947. In 1993, it became Polinger Shannon
&; Luchs Co. He and his wife created the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation, which contributes to projects that
strengthen Jewish life. The couple has sponsored the Artists of Excellence Concert Series at the Jewish Community Center of Greater
Washington since the early 1970s. They brought dance and music programs into the District's public schools.
Mr. Polinger and his wife received an Excellence in Arts and Humanities award from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery
County in 2005 and were recognized by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County in May for their support.
He was a past board member of the Anti-Defamation League and the JewishInstitute for National Security Affairs. In 2005, he received
the Micah Social Responsibility Award from Panim, the Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Geraldine Merican Polinger of Chevy Chase; four children, Jan Polinger Chavis of Potomac, Arnold
L. Polinger of Washington, Lorre Polinger of Boston and David Polinger of Potomac; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.