Newport developer Donald Koll dies

Well-known Newport Beach resident, developer and philanthropist Donald Koll has died.

Koll, a stroke survivor, suffered a heart attack over the weekend and died Tuesday, according to the Orange County Register. He was 78.

Koll founded The Koll Co. in Newport Beach in 1962.

The company grew from a regional general construction firm specializing in custom homes to a commercial real estate giant that developed more than 90 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space around the U.S. and Mexico.

The company specialized in risky, highly speculative office projects during Koll’s nearly 40 years of leadership. It locally produced the Koll Center, a 1.5-million square foot office park in Newport Beach; the Koll Center Irvine, a similar master-planned office park in Irvine; and the replica of Independence Hall in Buena Park.

Koll and his family also helped bring the private Sage Hill School in Newport Coast to life.

“He was such a respected leader in real estate and business locally,” said Vicki Booth, chairwoman of the Sage Hill School board of trustees.

An Eagle Scout and former Air Force pilot, Koll earned an economics degree from Stanford University.

In 1990 he was named one of the top 25 CEOs of the decade by the California Business Magazine, and in 2007 was honored with the real estate industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is a past presidential appointee to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the American Red Cross.

Koll served on the boards of CB Richard Ellis, Wells Fargo, the Irvine Co. and Fidelity National Title.

Koll built an orphanage in La Paz, Mexico, established the 52-acre Don Koll Sports Center in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and was active in giving back to the local community.

He also built Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita for no cost.

Koll’s family and his company supported Sage Hill School with a $1-million donation, a donation of construction fees back to the school, office space during the process and more, Booth said.

“The family is famous at the school for doing so much,” she said. “Everyone at Sage Hill is grateful for his leadership and generosity.”

A service will be held for Koll at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Our Lady Queen of Angels, 2046 Mar Vista Drive, Newport Beach.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes