CRE Leader Jerry Snyder Passes Away at 90

In a long and multifaceted career, the founder & senior partner of J.H. Snyder made a lasting impact on the industry with major projects from coast to coast.
Jerry Snyder, Founder & Senior Partner of J.H. Snyder. Image courtesy of J.H. Snyder Co.

The commercial real estate industry has lost one of its leaders with the passing of Jerome H. “Jerry” Snyder, founder & senior partner of Los Angeles-based J.H. Snyder Co. Snyder passed away at his home in the Bel Air area of Los Angeles on May 8 at the age of 90 following a brief battle with cancer.

Born in Brooklyn, Snyder got his start in the real estate industry at 19, when he launched a home remodeling business that he wisely named Snyder & Son to give potential clients the security of believing a more experienced professional was at the helm. Snyder went from renovating houses for homeowners to working with small subdivisions to developing an entire 80-resident community in Orange County. From there, Snyder established Signature Homes and by the age of 22, he was developing 2,000 homes annually. The business was the launchpad for J.H. Snyder Co., which evolved into a national homebuilding company. Then, when change was afoot, he acted accordingly, as he would throughout his career. In 1969, Snyder partnered with Loew’s Corp. to form Loew’s Snyder Environmental Communities, building thousands of homes across the U.S. over the next seven years. Seeing an imminent downturn in the housing market in the late 1970s, he turned lemons into lemonade by transforming J. H. Snyder into a commercial development company.

Living legacy

Snyder’s fingerprints can be seen on ground-breaking projects such as the 17-acre Water Garden office park in Santa Monica, which helped launch the area’s reputation as Silicon Beach. Also in Santa Monica, Snyder is behind the twin 17-story Ocean Towers condo development at 201 Ocean Ave. Other outstanding projects include Beverly Glen Park near Bel Air, The River at Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs and Coronado Shores in San Diego. 

Hollywood quickly found itself drawn to Snyder’s projects. One of his earliest endeavors is the prominent building now known as SAG-AFTRA Plaza, home to the SAG-AFTRA entertainment and media union, at 5757 Wilshire Blvd., which he acquired in a partnership in 1978. The property came with developable land that Snyder ultimately used to create the 1 million-square-foot, two-building Wilshire Courtyard campus that kicked off a trend with the then-rare feature of terraces at an office property. Additionally, SAG-AFTRA Plaza is the site of what is said to be one Snyder’s favorite undertakings, The Residences at Wilshire Curson, a luxury apartment tower that will deliver 285 units to the market. Snyder’s company is also the force behind Hollywood 959, a striking 245,000-square-foot creative office campus at 959 N. Seward St. in the Hollywood Media District. The cutting-edge, two-building property—which offers such desirable features as full-height perimeter glass, parking with electric car charging stations, recreation areas and a restaurant with outdoor seating and full bar—has attracted the likes of Serendipity Labs, Digital Media Management, Mainstay Entertainment and Quibi, the mobile-first media platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Snyder also had a hand in transforming neighborhoods across Los Angeles over his many decades in the real estate business, including the Koreatown district, which has emerged as a trendy destination over the last few years. In 2014, J.H. Snyder, having jumped through hoops for two years to secure entitlements on a long-vacant two-acre site in Koreatown in the Mid-Wilshire area, delivered The Vermont, a 464-unit luxury high-rise complex that became the largest residential development to be built in the city since the 2008 real estate downturn and one of the first transit-oriented developments to sprout up in post-recession Los Angeles.

Gone but not forgotten

The well-respected and highly honored Snyder leaves behind his wife, Joan, three children, three grandchildren and a portfolio of properties that render him a commercial real estate industry icon. An altruistic man, he also leaves a legacy of giving. Along with his wife, he was a major supporter of UCLA, where Snyder spent a semester. Among their contributions to the university, the Snyders donated $3 million to endow faculty chairs at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute and established the Jerome Snyder Systems Building and Housing Research Fellowship at the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. They have also given tirelessly in support of children’s welfare, turning their philanthropic attention to such entities as Boys and Girls Club of Venice and After-School All-Stars. Jerry Snyder lives on, courtesy of his work and generosity.