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Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

No. 17 , Conrad Prebys

Estimated net worth: $300 million

Conrad Prebys, 70, who made his fortune in real estate, spent the past year building a legacy as a philanthropist. In October, Prebys made the largest private gift Scripps Mercy Medical Group has ever seen, with a $10 million gift to the hospital’s emergency and trauma services at the heavily visited Hillcrest Hospital.

In the spring, he handed the Old Globe Theater a check for $10 million to build a new stage, the latest in a lifetime of gifts to the group, which named a pavilion after him a dozen years ago. That donation came on the heels of a $1 million gift to the Boys & Girls Club of East County, which he has actively supported for years.

Prebys told Downtown San Diego magazine that he is setting up a charitable foundation, but the going is slow.

“In the meantime, I discovered it’s a lot more fun to do some of this giving while I’m alive and can see the benefits of my donations,” Prebys said. “I’ve been extremely thrilled with the results.”

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He made his fortune, estimated at $300 million, as a buyer, builder and developer of properties , about 6,000 of which he continues to own or manage under the mantel of the head of San Diego-based Progress Construction and Management Co. He began his land empire with apartment buildings in El Cajon, and maintains strong ties to the city, which declared Jan. 8 to be Conrad Prebys Day.

With a web of apartment complexes, lots and single-family homes spread across the county, Prebys is one of the county’s 20 largest property tax payers, paying more than $3 million last year , topping companies that include Shea Homes and Pardee Homes.

A Point Loma resident for the past 35 years, Prebys grew up with four brothers, grandsons of Polish immigrants in a steel mill town in Indiana. A high school drama coach inspired him to look beyond a future in the factory, and he left South Bend, first opening a pizza parlor near the University of Notre Dame and eventually arriving in San Diego in 1965 with, he likes to say, $500 and the shirt on his back.

Though he may be talking legacy, Prebys’ business interests remain very lively. Among th)e current projects: developing a 15-acre commercial parcel in the San Elijo Hills community in the North County.

, Marty Graham


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