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Benjamin Holloway, insurance executive, dies

Benjamin Holloway, a descendant of Duke University's founding family who, as an executive at Equitable Life Assurance Society, helped establish insurance companies as major investors in U.S. commercial real estate, has died. He was 88.

He died on Sunday in Miami, according to Van Orsdel Family Funeral Chapels & Crematory. The cause was complications of emphysema, the Miami Herald reported.

As head of the New York-based realty operations for Equitable -- now part of Paris-based Axa SA -- Holloway played a key financing role in the development of midtown Manhattan and the landscape of cities around the country.

In the 1980s, when Equitable was the third-largest U.S. life insurer and a leading manager of pension funds, Holloway helped oversee its acquisitions of a 50 percent stake in King of Prussia Mall, near Philadelphia; a half interest in Miami-based Continental Cos.; Honolulu's Ala Moana Center in a joint venture with Japanese retailer Daiei Inc.; and 19 shopping centers from General Growth Properties Inc.

In New York, Holloway played a central role in the government-supported redevelopment of Times Square. He "managed to unite developers who had never worked together as a group before and, most likely, never will again," The New York Times reported.

Also under Holloway, Equitable made its own mark on the Manhattan skyline by building its 54-story corporate headquarters at 787 Seventh Ave., between 51st and 52nd streets. The Axa Equitable Building, as it's now known, features Roy Lichtenstein's 68-foot-tall "Mural With Blue Brushstroke" in its soaring atrium, part of what the Times, in 1985, called "perhaps the largest partnership ever forged between art and real estate in Manhattan."

Holloway served on a New York State task force that, in 1981, recommended the sale of the World Trade Center to a private owner. The Port Authority kept ownership of the complex until 2001, when it was sold to Larry Silverstein's Silverstein Properties Inc., just two months before the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists.

Holloway was an original member of the Duke Family Association of North Carolina, an organization of descendants of Duke University's founding family.

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