Remembering Abe Pollin
Marion Barry had just been sworn in as mayor
for the second time in January 1995, when a staffer told him that Abe Pollin, the philanthropist and entrepreneur who died Wednesday, had a belated Christmas present for Barry.
Then Pollin called.
"Mr. Mayor, Marion I want to take the Bullets and I want to put them in downtown Washington."
The then Washington Bullets were playing at the Capital Centre in Landover.
Barry said his first question was: "Abe do you think that this is a good investment?"
Barry recalled his 30 year relationship with Pollin as he stood outside the Verizon Center Wednesday night. He said the act was typical of the man. Pollin was a man who wanted to give back to the city he loved.
He built housing units for low income residents, and he led the way to revitalize the area around Gallery Place -- beginning with the effort to build an arena with his own money.
Pollin put up $220 million for what would become the MCI Center.
As fans flocked to see the Wizards play Wednesday night, Barry said Pollin's legacy would go far beyond the team or the building.
"He used to go to Calvary Baptist Church and serve meals to the homeless," Barry said pointing in the direction of the nearby church. "He changed the name of the Bullets because he was concerned about the name sending the wrong message. He was a great humanitarian."
Washington Post editors
November 27, 2009; 9:06 AM ET
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