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Building the Community Awards"
benefiting March of Dimes
Friedman Group Ltd. selected as Commercial Realtor Honoree
The March of Dimes is in its third year of recognizing the contribution of localdevelopers, contractors, architects, engineers and Realtors who are helpingbuild up local neighborhoods, both with bricks, mortar and blueprints andwith community spirit.
From the May 10, 2002 print edition
Friedman Group Ltd.
by Matt Sorrell
When the Lift for Life Academy & Gym lost the lease to its building in the late
1990s, Eric Friedman lent his expertise to help the organization find a new home.
"We had all of these kids who didn't want to see the program end," said Marshall
Cohen, executive director of Lift For Life in St. Louis. "They needed a place to
come and work out."
Friedman, president of Friedman Group Ltd., waived his commission as he helped
the organization, which provides after-school gym and education programs for
150 at-risk children, find new quarters quickly. He has been involved with the
program ever since, and is currently president of the Lift for Life board.
Friedman assisted in the eventual purchase of four buildings for Lift for Life,
including the Manufacturers Bank building at 1731 S. Broadway, which recently won
accolades from the Landmarks Association as one of the most improved landmarks
in the city. Friedman headed the building and facilities committee during the acquisition
and renovation of that building, which involved selecting an architect and contractor,
securing an $800,000 loan and working through environmental issues. Friedman
worked on the project along with attorney Dan Wofsey of Armstrong Teasdale.
"This is a really exciting time for us because we're in a real growth period," Cohen
said. "Eric has been very instrumental in taking Lift for Life to another level. I think
he understands that this is a golden opportunity to plant some seeds in education with
Friedman was also instrumental in establishing the Central Reform Congregation in
the city, from getting the first families together to form the congregation 18 years ago
and serving on its first board of directors, to marshaling support and funds for the
organization's new $4.5 million building in the Central West End. He has also
worked with the congregation's social responsibility committee, helping to form a
joint mentoring program with the Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church.
Friedman's professional involvements include helping found the St. Louis Real Estate
Board's commercial information exchange, a database of available properties, along
with Ed Schuttenberg of Grubb & Ellis/Krombach Partners. Along with serving on
that organization's board of directors, Friedman is also a board member of the
commercial division of the St. Louis Association of Realtors.
Friedman attributes his civic activity in part to the time he spent in the Army.
"Once I came back from the Army, I really wanted to do something and have an
impact and make a difference in the community," he said, adding that his family had
always stressed civic involvement as well.
Friedman, a St. Louis native, started his career in the real estate business 30 years
ago after serving in the Army. He worked for his uncle, Bernard Bernstein, on
Chestnut Street in downtown St. Louis, then unofficially known as "real estate row."
"We bought mainly houses all around the metropolitan area and fixed them up under
FHA programs," he said. "We also built new housing in the city."
Friedman started his own commercial real estate company, Friedman Group Ltd.,
in 1995. Currently, Friedman Group is involved in the commercial real estate
business in the city, with special interest in historical properties. The company is
small, with only four employees, and that's the way Friedman likes it.
"I enjoy working with other entrepreneurs and business owners, and bringing
my expertise to help them grow their businesses and meet their goals. I always
want to stay involved directly with my clients," he said.
The Friedman Group is not Friedman's first entrepreneurial foray; he's always
had the self-employment bug. "Most of my life has been spent working for myself
as an entrepreneur," he said.
Over the years, Friedman has been involved in numerous businesses beyond
real estate, from starting anewspaper in 1973 for striking employees of the
Post-Dispatch and Globe-Democrat, to running a business incubator near Chicago.
In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Friedman spent seven years at Cozad
Commercial Real Estate Group before launching Friedman Group. Despite trying
his luck in different cities, Friedman, a St. Louis native, always came back to his
"My family is here, and St. Louis is a very comfortable place to live and work,"
Matt Sorrell is a St. Louis free-lance writer.
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