A Philly real estate investor just donated $16 million to support the LGBT community

Mel Heifetz calls the donation his ‘lifetime of work.’

Last year the city unveiled a new Pride flag

Last year the city unveiled a new Pride flag

Zari Tarazona / Billy Penn

Mel Heifetz calls the $16 million he just gave to the Philadelphia Foundation “nothing unusual.”

Heifetz, owner of Mel Heifetz Real Estate, announced on Facebook his “lifetime of work” donation — $16 million — to The Philadelphia Foundation in support of the LGBT community. The Philadelphia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that receives large donations, which are then distributed to other non profits in the area.

“The amount may be a little unusual,” he told Billy Penn. “The fact that I’ve been donating since I was quite young, it’s not a surprise to me or the values I have.”

Heifetz said the $16 million donation is the value of a group of real estate properties he’s acquired over the years. He gave the foundation ownership of those Center City properties, so it can sell them off to interested buyers. The Philadelphia Foundation will then make yearly donations of a percentage of the $16 million, which will grow over time through investments.

A call to the foundation to see what plans they have for the donated properties was not returned before publication.

“Pretty good for a kid from South Philly that didn’t have very much,” Heifetz said.

He doesn’t come from a wealthy family. He said his parents were poor and never owned a house. He got into the real estate business in the 1960s while in his mid-20’s, after finishing his time in the Army and working on some other business ventures. One such venture was Sisters, the Gayborhood lesbian bar and nightbclub that closed in 2013 after 17 years.

Philly real estate investor Mel Heifetz with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

Philly real estate investor Mel Heifetz with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

Mel Heifetz / Facebook

Heifetz has been donating money to charitable organizations, mostly nonprofits, for decades. Per Philly.com, he gave $1 million to Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year, and another $1 million to former President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

He added that the money will go toward many different charities including, but not limited to, LGBT causes. And he hopes his donation of real estate properties will motivate others to do the same.

“I’m a gay man,” Heifetz said, “and I support a lot of gay, but also straight organizations that do good for people.”


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