Cleveland-based real estate firm Stark Enterprises’ founder Bob Stark, left, along with his son and CEO Ezra Stark are in Israel after war erupted over the weekend. Ezra is attempting to return to Cleveland as soon as possible (StarkEnterprises.com). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Cleveland real estate executive trying to return home
UPDATE OCT. 13, 2023 — Stark Enterprises’ VP of Marketing Stacie Schmidt reports that both Bob and Ezra Stark have safely returned to the USA.
Greater Cleveland real estate executive Ezra Stark is grounded in Israel by the outbreak of war over the weekend, Stark confirmed to NEOtrans through a company spokesperson. He was scheduled to fly out Sunday but most airlines including all U.S.-based carriers have temporarily suspended flights to and from the Middle Eastern nation due to its worsening security situation following a surprise, massive attack Oct. 7 by the terrorist group Hamas.
Stark, CEO of Cleveland-based Stark Enterprises, was in Israel when Hamas struck in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday. An Orthodox Jew, Stark was in country during a season of Jewish holidays, coinciding with Simchat Torah, near the end of the weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles. Stark was also visiting his father Bob Stark, founder and president of Stark Enterprises, and his brother David Stark, a founding general partner at venture capital firm Ground Up Ventures. Bob Stark lives part-time in Israel while David Stark lives there full-time.
Stark Enterprises Vice President of Marketing Stacie Schmidt confirmed that Ezra Stark is seeking to return but there are few commercial flights serving any airport in Israel. Those that are flying are overwhelmed by travelers seeking to leave. The Federal Aviation Administration has urged U.S. airlines and pilots to use extreme caution when flying at any altitude in Israeli airspace, in an updated Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM). Israel and other countries have issued similar aviation alerts.
While Ezra Stark is unharmed, he noted that others including many people he knows are not unharmed or will soon be in harm’s way. He asked Schmidt to pass along to NEOtrans his social media post on LinkedIn in which he also forwarded his brother David Stark’s comments. They were prefaced by Ezra Stark’s own remarks that “My family lives there. My friends are being called up to the front lines.”
“The point of this post on a business network like LinkedIn is to say that there is no ‘business as usual’ in Israel right now and I am not sure when things will get back to normal,” David Stark wrote, noting that many people in his company or their family members are reservists and are being activated to fight. Others are coping with new realities of a country at war.
In August 2019, Stark Enterprises’ newly constructed 29-story Beacon Apartments was several months from a formal opening on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland (KJP).
Although Ezra Stark is seeking to return to the USA on the next available flight, Schmidt said she was not aware if Bob Stark was similarly seeking to leave Israel anytime soon. “I don’t have that answer at this time,” she said in an e-mail to NEOtrans.
Stark Enterprises built, owns and manages many familiar properties in Greater Cleveland and beyond, such as lifestyle centers, retail centers, apartment buildings and more. They include the 29-story Beacon Apartments tower that Stark built in 2019 on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland. It is located at 515 Euclid Ave., just west of Stark Enterprises’ corporate headquarters at 629 Euclid. Bob Stark began developing real estate in 1974, starting with retail strip shopping centers.
In 1986, he founded Robert L. Stark Enterprises Inc. and built The Promenade of Westlake in the late 1980s, expanding it with the Crocker Park lifestyle center a dozen years later. He also acquired the Eton Collection office/retail complex in Woodmere and redeveloped it as the Eton Chagrin Boulevard lifestyle center. Some know Stark for the never-realized nuCLEus mixed-use development downtown, to be crowned with a $300 million, 54-story, 650-foot tower. Instead, Stark Enterprises sold the nuCLEus site earlier this year to Bedrock Real Estate of Detroit. But Stark’s efforts to fund nuCLEus created a new statewide gap financing program to support Transformative Mixed-Use Developments.
Bob Stark also has been an active developer in Israel for a long time. Starting in 2007, he led an investor group that provided more than $3 billion to construct a new university town in Safed in the northern part of Israel. The development helped boost the economy of the area, as the nearest university was more than 30 miles away in Haifa. The development included a medical school affiliated with Bar-Ilan University.