Benjamin Holloway, 88, Equitable’s shaper of NYC skyline

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

He died Dec. 29 in Miami. 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, France’s largest insurer — Mr. Holloway played a key financing role in development of Midtown Manhattan and the landscape of cities around the country.

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In the 1980s, when Equitable was the third-largest US life insurer and a leading manager of pension funds, Mr. 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.; and 19 shopping centers from General Growth Properties Inc., in what Equitable said was probably the biggest such deal in the United States.

In New York, Mr. 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.

Mr. Holloway served on a New York State task force that, in 1981, recommended the sale of the World Trade Center. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey kept ownership until 2001, when it was sold two months before the towers were destroyed by terrorists.

Benjamin Duke Holloway was born in Durham, N.C.

After graduating from high school in Washington, D.C., in 1943, he served in the US Navy during World War II.

He graduated from Duke in 1950 with a degree in economics, spent a year working for the Federal Housing Administration in Washington, then in 1951 joined Equitable’s regional real-estate office there. He moved to New York in 1979 and continued working at the insurer until his retirement in 1990.