Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prominent Business Developer Found Dead by Daughter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prominent Business Developer Found Dead by Daughter

Article excerpt


Arthur Kirschman, a longtime Beaches-area commercial developer, was found dead in his Ponte Vedra Beach home Thursday, police said.

A St. Johns County Sheriff's Office report states Kirschman, 57, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, although the investigation is continuing. His 19-year-old daughter, Chelsea Kirschman, found her father's body as she returned home.

The report said Kirschman was "depressed recently about his financial situation." His body was discovered by his daughter about 1 p.m. at 629 Palmera Drive E.

Kirschman was a well-known member of the Beaches business community and was involved in the development of Sawgrass Village and Sawgrass resort. He helped to build dozens of commercial complexes throughout the Beaches with his company, First Coast Commercial Realty. One of the properties he developed and managed was Osceola Professional Center in South Jacksonville Beach, which has about 70 businesses.

"He was somebody who would work harder than two or three people," said Tim Benner, who worked with Kirschman for about two decades; first with the Arvida real estate company that developed the Sawgrass properties in the 1980s, then as a partner with Kirschman at First Coast Commercial until 2005.

"He was basically the deal-finder," Benner said Friday. "He was a rainmaker in finding opportunities."

While Kirschman was an astute businessman, Benner said he was also generous.

"He was a giver," said Benner.

But Benner acknowledged that since Kirschman kept the realty business, given the current economic recession, he likely ran into difficult financial straits.

"I know that basically anybody that's in the development business or a landlord is struggling at this point. That's pretty much across the board," said Benner. …

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