Ted Lerner, the billionaire developer who was the principal owner of the Washington Nationals, died Sunday at the age of 97.
Lerner died of complications from pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
“It is with great sadness that we we announce the passing of Founding Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner,” the Washington Nationals said in a tweet. “The crowning achievement of his family business was bringing baseball back to the city he loved — and with it, bringing a championship home for the first time since 1924. He cherished the franchise and what it brought to his beloved hometown.”
Lerner bought the team for $450 million and is credited with bringing baseball back to DC in 2006 after decades.
“From his humble beginnings as an usher in Washington D.C.’s old Griffith Stadium, to the ushering in of a new era of championship baseball in his hometown, Mr. Lerner literally and figuratively built a legacy through his signature mix of tenacity and humility. Guided by love for his family and passion for his hometown, Mr. Lerner dedicated his life to the creation of a better city and a winning ball club,” Major League Baseball said of Lerner.
Born and raised in DC, he founded Lerner Enterprises, which became one of the largest private real estate development companies in the region, according to Major League Baseball.
He started his first real estate company in 1951 with a $250 loan from his wife, according to a biography provided by the Nationals.
“By concentrating on volume residential sales and introducing innovative concepts — like ‘model’ homes and centralized sales offices — he built over 22,000 houses and more than 6,000 apartment units,” the biography said.
Lerner’s early success came in developing regional shopping centers. In 1968, he opened Tysons Corner Center. He would later pay the highest price ever bid on a suburban land in Northern Virginia for what would become Tysons II. The 5-million-square-foot venture now includes the Tysons Galleria, a Ritz-Carlton hotel, and 10 office buildings known as The Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II.
Lerner also played a key role in the planning and creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and along with his wife, Annette. Both were among the museum’s founding members.
He and his family supported a number of local and national charities and foundations.
Lerner is survived by Annette Morris Lerner, his wife of 71 years; his children Mark D. Lerner (Judy) and Debra Lerner Cohen (Edward) of DC, and Marla Lerner Tanenbaum (Robert) of Bethesda; his nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Feature image courtesy Valerie Krebs/Washington Nationals
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