JP Rosenbaum: Construction Manager By Day, Bachelorette Winner By Night
Jotham Sederstrom Jan. 10, 2012, 11:06 a.m.
Want to vet JP Rosenbaum as the construction manager for your next development?
All one has to do is ask the housewives, teenagers, bloggers, reality TV fiends, and just about anyone who’s stood near a magazine rack while waiting in a grocery line, and they will uniformly say that he is the “cute and sweet” chap who swept Ashley Hebert—the titular character in last year’s version of ABC’s The Bachelorette—off her dainty feet.
Of course, such a vetting may lead developers to lock up their wives and daughters far away from the reality Romeo. But Mr. Rosenbaum, a Long Island native who was raised in a real estate family, is not just America’s most famous fiancé. He may also be America’s most famous construction manager.
“If there was any dirt on me to be had, you would have seen it,” said the 34-year-old Mr. Rosenbaum.
Sitting inside the offices of the J Companies, where he has worked as a construction manager for five years, it appeared that it was indeed back to work for the good-natured and well-dressed Mr. Rosenbaum. And what started out as a lark—he tried out for The Bachelorette after a friend submitted his name on an online application—turned out to be a life-changer for him, he said.
“I always thought I would go away for two weeks, have a vacation, come back, and it would be forgotten about,” he said, a smile growing across his face. “And I came back with a fiancée.”
He also came back with all the attendant hoopla that accompanies on-air betrothals.
The frenzy surrounding his upcoming wedding to Ms. Hebert is still whirring, thanks to People and InTouch magazine coverage (“Ashley and JP’s Dream Wedding!”)
But months have passed since the final episode of the seventh season of The Bachelorette, when Mr. Rosenbaum beat out winemaker Ben Flajnik for Ms. Hebert’s hand, perhaps proving to America’s single ladies that real estate men are made out of sturdier stuff.
Back on Mr. Rosenbaum’s mind, other than his bride-to-be, is the Gallery at Westbury Plaza, a 330,000-square-foot retail development in Nassau County that has already leased out space to Trader Joe’s, Shake Shack and Saks Off Fifth. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.
Before he became a reality TV staple, he had been working on the development, which is on the site of the old Avis rental car headquarters and is owned by Equity One, a Miami-based real estate investment trust. The site had five buildings that were abated of asbestos and demolished, and with construction not set to start until summer of 2011, Mr. Rosenbaum had the perfect window to try out for The Bachelorette.
There were no guarantees that he would return to a job with Equity One, or with the J Companies.
“That project was probably our biggest at the moment, and had the developer said, ‘We’re doing fine without you,’” he said, “I don’t know if I would have been hired back here or not.”
“[If] I was to bet, I would say they were going to hire me back. But it was still a risk.”
Mr. Rosenbaum, whose father was a developer and landlord, first went into real estate after college. He worked as a commercial real estate broker at Insignia/ESG’s office in Syosset, grew disillusioned with the business and shifted to online advertising. After three years, he realized his real estate roots were too hard to ignore.
He quit his job, traveled to Australia for two months, returned to the country and got his master’s in construction management at NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate in the night, while working for his father and brother’s real estate business during the day.
After finishing his master’s, one of his professors, Chuck Olivieri, also a senior vice president at Edward J. Minskoff Equities, put him in touch with Allan and David Brot, the fraternal co-owners of the J Companies.
The Brot brothers were impressed with the young Mr. Rosenbaum. But to get him, they had to do their own bit of Bachelorette-esque wooing.
“We interviewed maybe three times, offered him a job,” said Allan Brot. “He said maybe. We took him out for dinner, he said maybe. We took him out for [another] dinner, he said yes.”
Mr. Rosenbaum quickly went to work, taking part in construction projects like Forest City Ratner’s 80 DeKalb and Savanna Partners’ 141 Fifth Avenue.
He also suffered his own construction heartbreak in the form of 71 Laight Street, working on the preconstruction of the Morris Adjmi-designed building that was prematurely halted.
“It was an unbelievable design by Morris Adjmi that we were really, really, looking forward to building but never happened,” he said. The site of the development is currently up for sale.
Construction glories and heartbreaks aside, one truth is certain: the J Companies have the most recognizable face in construction in their team. Young girls recognize him and Ashley as they walk out in public. Grown women visiting the J Companies’ office ask him to sign their InTouch magazines. But construction workers?
“There weren’t many people in the construction trailer at the Gallery that read the magazines,” he said.
The crazy globetrotting dates are no more. Now Ashley and JP are an everyday, happily-soon-to-be-married couple. Ashley has finished her studies at UPenn Dental School and is awaiting word from a few pediatric dental residencies. JP is hard at work for the J Companies. Just your everyday couple who met in highly unusual (and highly public) circumstances.
Whereas his love life is looking rosy, his outlook on the current state of the city’s construction industry is not as glowing.
“In my opinion, it still seems kind of flat,” he said. “We don’t see anything really getting built this year.”
He says he has heard of rumblings from other architectural and engineering firms that they are starting to get new business, which is always welcome news to the J Companies’ ears.
“Hopefully after they get busier, we’ll get busier,” he added. But he tempered his high hopes with a sobering observation. “This year still seems kind of flat. It really does.”
When asked on whether the exposure from The Bachelorette would help or hurt his professional credibility, he thought about his answer carefully.
“That’s a good question. I don’t … I don’t think it has an impact one way or another,” he said.
“Once you get past speaking about it, and then knowing whoever you’re speaking to knows that you were on the show, it really boils down to what you know about the industry, what you know about construction, your referrals,” he added. “I don’t think it impacts it.”
“I mean, I hope it doesn’t.”
Organizations in this story
- Savanna Partners
- J Companies
- 80 DeKalb
- 71 Laight Street
- JP Rosenbaum
- Chuck Olivieri
- Ben Flajnik
- 141 Fifth Avenue
- The Bachelorette
- Edward J. Minskoff Equities
- Equity One
- Minskoff Equities
- Gallery at Westbury Plaza
- Allan Brot
- NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate
- Morris Adjmi
- David Brot
- Forest City Ratner Companies