Melvin Gelman, 60, a builder and realtor whose properties included The Towers apartment building in Northwest Washington and the Marlow Heights regional shopping center, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Washington.

Mr. Gelman was president of the Gelman Construction Co. The company was founded in 1925 by his father. Elias, and Mr. Gelman had headed it since his father's death in 1954. Since then, the company has built and managed more than 3,000 apartment units and 2,000 homes in the Washington area. Mr. Gelman also built or managed several shopping centers as well as having interests in other businesses.

In addition to The Towers on Cathedral Avenue NW, where Mr. Gelman himself maintained a 20-room pent, house apartment, the company's projects included the Yorkway and Parkway, the Park Ellison, Gelmark Towers, the Elaine, Macomb Gardens, the Alto Towers and the Elise.

Among Mr. Gelman's other interests was part ownership of the Artery Organization, a construction company.

Mr. Gelman was born in Washington and graduated from Central High School.He began working in his father's firm while he was still a youth. He joined it full-time in 1940 after earning a bachelor's degree in business administration at George Washington University.

He later served on the business advisory board of the university. He also endowed a chair at George Washington for Judaic studies. He was a member of the Adas Israel Congregation and had been a supporter of the Hebrew Home for the Aged.

He was a director-emeritus of the National Savings and Trust Bank of Washington, and a member of the International and Woodmont Country clubs.

Mr. Gelman's survivors include his wife, Estelle S., of the home in Washington, two daughters, Elaine Miller and Elise Lefkowitz, and a sister, Elizabeth G. Kossow, all of Washington, and one grandchild.