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Scott Wolstein, one of the biggest faces of Cleveland real estate development, dies at 69

Wolstein had been the CEO of The Wolstein Group since 1979 and was the main developer behind the Flats East Bank revitalization.

CLEVELAND — Scott Wolstein, who over more than four decades left an indelible mark on Cleveland's real estate and development, has died at the age of 69.

The Cleveland Jewish News reports Wolstein passed away Thursday, May 26, following a courageous battle with cancer. He had spent the last 43 years as CEO of The Wolstein Group, making him one of Northeast Ohio's most most prominent business leaders.

Wolstein was the son of Bert L. Wolstein, who along with his wife Iris became a legendary magnate and philanthropist both in Cleveland and across the country (the family name is featured on several buildings such as the Wolstein Center). In 1992, Bert and Scott co-founded Developers Diversified Realty (now SITE Centers) and soon took the company public, eventually raising its assets from $400 million to more than $18 billion.

Bert died in 2004 and Scott stepped down as chairman of DDR in 2011, but the younger Wolstein soon turn his attention to another major project: the redevelopment of Cleveland's Flats East Bank. The once-popular entertainment district had become a virtual ghost town by the Great Recession, but as principal developer, Wolstein spearheaded the efforts to breathe life back into the Cuyahoga River staple.

Over the last 10 or so years, the East Bank has been reborn, with packed bars and restaurants dotting the landscape along with apartments and even the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. When 3News contributor Doug Tratter spoke to Wolstein last October, he was highly satisfied with the status of the roughly $1 billion investment, and was looking forward to more additions on the horizon.

"Knock on wood, I think it's worked just as we hoped it would," he said at the time.

An alum of Hawken School in Gates Mills, Wolstein received his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School and later graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He is survived by his mother Iris, his sister Cheryl, his ex-wife and still-business partner Jillian, and four children, according to the Cleveland Jewish News.

The funeral service for Wolstein is set to take place on Thursday, June 2, at 2 p.m. and will be held at the Park Synagogue Main in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. 

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