Housing for Generations

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leonard litwin's introduction to apartment construction came as a landscaper. in the 1950s, he and his father ran a small landscaping business that serviced the interior courtyards of new york apartment buildings. it was the building owners' hope that these aesthetic improvements would make their poorly rented properties more appealing to tenants. after seeing the success their labors achieved, the litwins decided to stop landscaping courtyards for others and begin building and renting properties themselves.

more than 50 years later, this father-son business conceived in a landscaping truck is one of the most successful high-end real estate management companies in new york city. glenwood management corp. focuses on building and managing rental properties almost exclusively in manhattan.

"his longevity is the business is unique in itself," said charlie dorego, who is the company's senior vice president and general counsel. "for someone to be as successful as he is and stay virtually in one geographic area and stay with one type of product is rare. more often than not, people branch out into other things."

litwin is passing on the glenwood business to the next generation, with daughter carole l. pittelman acting as the company's president. he and his wife ruth have another daughter, diane miller.

believing that rental housing is the lifeblood of new york city's economy and that without it, young up-and-coming professionals and starter families would have no place to live, litwin chose not to branch out into condominium development or conversion, often a more lucrative enterprise. instead, glenwood has continued to build and manage rental housing, and has constructed hundreds of low-income housing units, including 120 that came on the market in september. the company's west side properties include the grand tier on west 64th street and broadway and the regent on west 60th street.

litwin is also actively involved in real estate trade organizations, serving as vice chairman of the rent stabilization association of new york, governor and secretary of the real estate board of new york and co-chairman of the board of governors of the associated builders and owners of greater new york.

though his real estate business has flourished, litwin has not forgotten his beginnings as a landscaper. that passion for the environment not only manifests itself in the richly landscaped areas that are a hallmark of all glenwood buildings but also has carried over to the construction site. his most recent project, emerald green, on west 38th street, is a two-tower "green" building. the structure's sustainable features and environmentally conscious construction have made it certified as having "leadership in energy and environmental design," by the u.s. green building council. it's the first such building in glenwood's real estate portfolio and an aspect of the business the company hopes to expand, according to dorego.

success has allowed litwin to contribute to crohn's disease and alzheimer's medical research initiatives. a family history of both diseases has helped drive his support for finding cures. he is founder of the new york crohn's foundation, and co-founder of the litwin zucker alzheimer's research center, at north shore long island jewish health system.

but one of litwin's largest initiatives is the one he hopes will be his legacy. the woodbourne arboretum would be converted from all 200 acres of the woodbourne cultural nurseries on long island. in many ways, the project would bring to life the motto he's lived by: "from acorns grow mighty oaks."

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