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Developer of Water Garden, Ocean Towers Dies
 

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By Jorge Casuso

May 11, 2020 -- Jerome H. "Jerry" Snyder -- a prominent Los Angeles developer who helped trigger Santa Monica's transformation into a high-tech center -- died Friday in his Bel Air home after a brief battle with cancer. He was 90.

Snyder's major projects included the Water Garden, a 17-acre office park that helped launch Santa Monica's reputation as Silicon Beach, and Ocean Towers, twin 17-story condo highrises that changed its beachfront skyline.

"Nice guy, big projects," said former Mayor Denny Zane. "Jerry was a cordial and decent guy who was willing to do outreach and sit down with community members.

"Jerry was a good businessman," Zane said. "He was an approachable guy. He never exercised power in an awkward way."
Developer Jerry Snyder

Zane, however, would vote against the $450-million Water Garden project when the City Council approved it in 1988 fearing it would generate too much traffic.

The project has since expanded to six 6-story structures and two 5-story structures that total 1.27-million square feet and serve as headquarters for multi-national technology and entertainment firms.

The Water Garden, along with other business parks in the old industrial section near the southeastern edge of Santa Monica "were the beach head for silicon beach," Zane said.

Snyder -- who built thousands of homes and millions of square feet of commercial developments across the country -- made his first major impact in Santa Monica in 1971 with Ocean Towers.

The twin condo highrises at 201 Ocean Avenue featured 317 residential units that currently list for $2.6 million for a three-bedroom unit.

Founder and Senior Partner of J. H. Snyder Company, Snyder's major projects have included Beverly Glen Park, The River at Rancho Mirage and Coronado Shores in San Diego.

Throughout his 70-year career, Snyder's favorite saying was “my favorite project is the next one.”

Born in Brooklyn, Snyder moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1944 and grew up in Boyle Heights, where he graduated from Roosevelt High School.

After a semester at UCLA and a brief stint in the Navy, he bought a truck and launched a remodeling business at age 19, printing business cards that read Snyder & Son to give the impression he had an older partner.

Soon Snyder expanded to individual home projects, then small subdivisions before developing an 80-home community in Orange County financed by Home Savings & Loan.

By age 22, he was building 2,000 homes a year, and in 1969 partnered with Loew’s Corporation to form Loew’s Snyder Environmental Communities, which built thousands of homes across the country over the next seven years.

In the late 1970s as home building slowed, Snyder transitioned to developing commercial properties, then began meeting market demand by building retail centers and multifamily projects.

One of his final projects is The Residences at Wilshire Curson, a 20-story state-of-the-art apartment building currently underway at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles' Miracle Mile.

The Los Angeles Business Journal selected Snyder to join its Business Hall of Fame in 2019 for his lasting impression on the city, and he routinely ranks on lists of Most Powerful Los Angeles Business Leaders.

Snyder and his wife, Joan, have made UCLA the beneficiary of much of their philanthropy.

Snyder is survived by his wife, Joan, and three children, Wendy Snyder married to Toshi Nakajima, William Snyder married to Martin Larsen, and Lon Snyder married to Linda Snyder, and three grandchildren, Catherine Nakajima, Kevin Nakajima and Katie Snyder.

A memorial service is planned at a later date. To honor Jerry Snyder’s memory, contributions may be sent to the UCLA Stein Eye Institute.


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