What is in this article?:
- The Visionary: East Bank Club Founder Daniel Levin
- Law, Politics and Real Estate
- The Origins of the Club
- Still Hard at Work
- Sidebar: The Famous and a Future President Work Out at East Bank Club
- Sidebar: Longtime Employees Lead to Success of East Bank Club
- Sidebar: Club Industry Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
East Bank Club founder and CEO Daniel Levin is the 2013 recipient of Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. He will receive the award Oct. 24 at the Club Industry Conference and Exhibition in Chicago. Photo by Brian McConkey.
Law, Politics and Real Estate
Theodore and Rhoda Levin were each born in Chicago to Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, but they raised their family of four children in Detroit. Daniel Levin was third in line among his two brothers and sister, born on July 24, 1930.
The Levin family is steeped in law. Theodore Levin, the oldest of eight children, ran a family law practice in Detroit for 26 years with his brother, Saul. He opposed the Michigan Alien Registration and Fingerprinting Act with other immigration lawyers and succeeded in having the act declared unconstitutional.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman nominated Theodore Levin to become a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. After U.S. Senate confirmation, Levin served as a federal judge until his death in 1970. (He was chief judge of the court from 1959 to 1967.) The Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit was named in his memory in 1995.
Daniel Levin’s older brother, Charles, served as a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1973 to 1996. Their first cousins include two members of Congress: Carl Levin, the U.S. senator from Michigan, and Sander Levin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan’s 9th district.
All signs pointed Daniel Levin toward following in the family business. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1950 and later earned his law degree from there in 1953. He went on to serve as a law clerk in Washington, DC, before joining the family law firm.
“That’s what we did. We became lawyers,” Levin says.
Yet something was missing in his life.
“I wasn’t enjoying the law that much,” Levin says. “I wasn’t that good at it.”
In 1957, after creating work connections in Chicago, Levin was hired to a low-level house counsel position for Chicago real estate developer Herbert Greenwald, who worked closely with famed German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In 1959, Greenwald was among more than 60 people who died in a plane crash at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
The tragedy opened a new chapter for Levin, who became more involved in the real estate business. He later formed a partnership with James P. McHugh of James McHugh Construction Co. called McHugh Levin Associates.
The first major development for Levin and McHugh was South Commons, a 28-acre urban renewal project on Chicago’s south side. The success of that project led Levin to found The Habitat Co. in 1971.
Since then, Levin has directed the financing and structuring of more than 20,000 rental and condominium units in 80 locations and six states and has more than $2 billion in assets under management.
The company attributes its philosophy to a quote from Levin: “No project is only an investment in real estate. It is an investment in the future of the community and in the lives of the people who live and work there.”
One could apply the same philosophy to the opening of East Bank Club. But this particular project was not easy to get off the ground.