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CHERRY HILLS, CO–Kal Zeff, the largest owner of apartments in the Denver area, recently died. Zeff, born in what is now Israel on Dec. 25, 1926, died in his home after a fall. No autopsy was performed because as an Orthodox Jew, autopsies are not permitted.

Zeff purchased his home in 1988 from the late billionaire Marvin Davis, who was the richest man in Colorado before moving to Beverly Hills. Davis, a former oilman, sold Twentieth Century Fox to Rupert Murdoch.

“It truly is the end of an era,” Jeff Hawks, principal of Apartment Realty Advisors, tells GlobeSt.com. Zeff’s Carmel Cos. built and owned about 10,000 apartment units in the metro Denver throughout four decades. The second largest owner of apartments is Equity Residential Properties, with about 6,500 units.

Zeff’s company was named after Mt. Carmel, the site of a battle in Israel in 1948, where he fought. He came to the US to attend graduate school at the Colorado School of Mines in 1953, after receiving his engineering degree from Technion University in Israel, but later transferred to the University of Colorado. He started a soil engineering company. One of his clients was Larry Mizel, who developed his first apartment building in the late 1960s. Mizel is now chairman of Denver-based MDC Holdings, parent of Richmond Homes, one of the nation’s largest homebuilding companies.

“We used Kal on our first buildings as a soil engineer, and then he went on to build his own apartment buildings,” Mizel tells GlobeSt.com. “I think his first apartment building was called the Lancelot in Glendale.” Mizel notes that Zeff was a very astute and successful businessman, but also very philanthropic, donating to numerous charities.

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