The Plastic Surgeon of Real Estate, Michael Pollack, “Changes The Face of The East Valley With A Few Quirks Along The Way”.
January 2015 Valley Lifestyles Magazine
MICHAEL POLLACK walk into his advertising
memorabilia museum, located inside his Mesa
corporate office, is like watching a kid walk into
a toy store. His eyes light up and he’s truly in
He wants to tell you every little thing about
every piece. The 8,000 pieces, ranging from
massive to miniscule, the 1700’s to the 1970’s,
all have their own seasoned histories. But when
Pollack steps outside the museum, outside of
his 31,000 square foot corporate real estate
headquarters and onto the street, the East Valley
is his, too.
You probably already know Pollack’s name.
As a longtime Valley real estate developer, he
has developed and redeveloped over 13 million
square feet of projects during his four decades in
the commercial real estate business and currently
owns and manages between 180 to 190 properties
in the states of Arizona, California and Nevada.
And while you probably already know his name,
the man behind the many properties is among
the most unique people you’ll ever meet.
Pollack does everything on a huge scale.
From his massive, hyper-ornate, Mediterranean inspired
office, packed with pillars, paintings,
sculptures and marble statues, to his meticulously groomed
locks and staple all-black outfits, it’s
clear he’s a fan of opulence. But when it comes
down to making deals and renovating properties,
he’s all business.
Pollack’s longtime friend and current
designated broker, Patrick Cassidy, describes
Pollack as “the plastic surgeon of real estate.”
He should know, having worked with him for
nearly 40 years. Where many redevelopers
are content making superficial upgrades and
slapping a bit of paint on an old piece of real
estate, Pollack changes the very essence of tired
and antiquated properties.
The process begins with Pollack and his
team accessing the structural and cosmetic
needs of the property and how it will best serve
Once this is determined, a team of many
contractors go into motion with the orchestration
conducted by Pollack himself.
The project usually begins with a new fascia
of stone, brick, tile, tower features, pop outs
and additional glass where needed. Next begins
the selection of vibrant paint colors, along with
landscaping upgrades, plus electrical, plumbing,
air conditioners, new parking lots and roofing
“It’s like the difference between Botox injections,
which are pretty simple and you just
inject a few areas compared to a major facelift.
What I do is a major facelift.”
To say that Pollack has had a passion for
construction and real estate for a long time is
an understatement. As the son of a construction
contractor, he learned the art of how to construct
a building by the time he was 6 or 7. By age 10 as
a student in California, he was teaching others.
“I gave a presentation to my elementary
school class about how to read a working drawing,” Pollack says.
“I told them if you don’t do certain things to the foundation
then the building will collapse. Of course during the question and
answer time they were very curious as to whether or
not the school was correctly built and if it was going
to collapse in the event of an earthquake … and so
I assured them that I felt the building wouldn’t fall,
then the first quake came. I made it out of elementary
school and it didn’t fall down, so I guess I was right.”
Pollack realizes a building’s structure is only part
of its integrity. The other part is its use. When a
dollar cinema was struggling in a shopping center
he bought on the Southeast corner of Elliot and
McClintock roads in Tempe and was looking to close,
Pollack saw it as an opportunity to bring a refreshing
new change for the community. The theater was
integral to the center’s health and increased traffic
that benefited the many tenants in the center.
As he weighed his options, one of his thoughts
was that he could demolish the theater and
repurpose the cinema, moving everything out and
restructuring for new businesses. The second was to
invent a new game called downhill bowling, since the
theater floors are already at a slope. The third idea
was that Pollack would open a unique, one-of-a-kind
cinema of his own, showing real Hollywood movies
to families for a very inexpensive $3 admission, or
$2 on Tuesdays.
The 25,000 square foot theater was renovated
into what is now well known as Pollack Tempe
Cinemas, where Pollack rotates various pieces from
his advertising memorabilia collection for public
viewing. As wax museums closed across the country,
Pollack saw an opportunity, buying up famous faces
for placement in his very own cinema.
Pollack recently invested close to a million dollars
in his cinema with new theater seating, digital sound
and digital projectors.
With a successful theater business model now
under his belt, people have questioned whether
Pollack would like to open another cinema.
“‘Would I do it again’ is the question people ask
all the time,” Pollack says of the theater, “The answer
is, without hesitation, ‘No, no, no. No, no. No, no.’
So really, the answer’s ‘no.’”
But he’s a real estate developer and redeveloper
first and foremost with no time available to possibly
take on another cinema journey. He already works
six or seven 13 to 14 hour days a week. There’s no
need or time to add to his plate.
But Pollack is thankful for the 40 years of success
he’s had in a tough business.
“To still be in business, to still be expanding and
serving the community is something I am very grateful
for” Pollack says. “Those are accomplishments that
I cherish, and one’s that I am most proud of. I’m
looking forward to continuing to make the great
state of Arizona better one project at a time.”