Presented By: RXR Realty
Rock On! This Isn’t Your Father’s Rockefeller
Standing tall at 33 stories high, 75 Rockefeller Plaza was originally built for the Standard Oil Company and known as the Esso Building; it was later renamed the Time Warner Building, serving as the media conglomerate’s headquarters until its lease expiration in 2014. The building’s iconic address and its newly blank canvas was too great an opportunity to pass up for RXR Realty, the owner with a dominant presence in midtown including Class A assets such as 1330 Avenue of the Americas, the Helmsley Building, 450 Lexington Avenue, and 1285 Avenue of the Americas.
When RXR acquired “75 Rock,” it embraced a vision to restore and fully reposition the building to meet the needs of tenants seeking a trophy address and the world-recognized Rockefeller name. Cushman and Wakefield’s Chairman of Global Brokerage, Bruce Mosler, comments on RXR’s completed vision, “This is a building for those seeking both exclusivity and a contemporary environment for their employees. The level of service from lobby experience to overall property maintenance is exceptional.”
75 Rock was originally constructed with a structural steel frame, concrete slabs, and a limestone façade – a New York City landmark of the mid-century era. The owner was quick to recognize existing challenges that could warrant typical market pushback – ceiling heights, T-shaped base floor plates, as well as some compromises in views for certain floors.
A holistic renovation plan, including both structural improvements and lifestyle innovations, was needed to attract tenants and produce a building worthy of 75 Rock’s stature and location. To address this, RXR created and deployed a $150 million redevelopment plan. The first step was restoring the building’s limestone façade, staying true to the building’s original design. The same limestone is found in the through-block lobby connecting entrances between 51st to 52nd Streets and also includes terrazzo floors, an elemental designed 24’ ceiling, a skylight, bronze concierge desk, and gallery space for public art.
RXR also set out to increase the efficiency of the building by reconfiguring its core, making it more efficient and spacious for tenants. 12 new passenger high-speed elevators with marble interiors have been equipped with a destination dispatch system to minimize wait-times, and new HVAC and electrical systems were installed to continue the building’s modernization. RXR addressed the environmental impact of the asset during the renovation process, implementing new optimized windows. The property anticipates LEED Gold designation.
Additional features that continue to create leasing traffic at 75 Rock include extensive terrace opportunities on the tenth floor with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling solarium, as well as modernized mechanical systems that increase finished ceiling heights above 9 feet throughout the tower. Building-wide fiber optics, an internet-based tenant work order and visitor processing system, bike storage, augmented loading dock, and messenger center all contribute to the functional modernization that satisfies today’s tenants. Tara Stacom, Executive Vice Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, praised RXR’s work, “the impact of the significant renovation is immediate and apparent upon entering the lobby and carries throughout the entire building.”
The progressive ownership of RXR goes beyond making physical improvements, offering a service model far ahead of the competitive set – one that is tailored to the profile of its buildings and the tenant mix within them. At 75 Rock, RXR hosts a lively integrated art program, punctuated by the permanent 7ft by 90ft Markus Linnenbrink installation of poured resin, an invigorating use of color. The attention-grabbing Paparazzi Dogs, the four bronze sculptures by celebrated contemporary artists, Gillie and Marc, engage both tenants and the plethora of people walking through. Above the lobby, 75 Rock’s pre-built full floors and marketing spaces also include an array of contemporary art.
RXR’s ownership comprehensively addresses all of the signature elements of being in a world-recognized business and tourist destination at the crown of Rock Center, and tenants like Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have taken notice. The institution’s Wealth Management division occupies 185,000 square feet in the base with multiple terraces. Responding to the tremendous foot traffic, and more specifically, the family foot traffic from Rockefeller Center, RXR staged a major retail coup, bringing American Girl Doll off of Fifth Avenue, and into its rejuvenated 40,000 square foot retail experience.
The remaining retail space is experiencing a surge of traffic by “world-class dining and ‘foodie’ establishments,” states Michael O’Neill, Cushman and Wakefield’s Executive Managing Director of Retail Services. “With popular bridge retail such as Warby Parker and Blue Mercury now on Avenue of the Americas, the success of the Baccarat and new boutique hotels like The Whitby, interesting, desirable retail and dining options are peppering midtown side streets. 75 Rock has a triple-threat advantage being amid prime shopping, business, and tourism, as well as luxury mixed-use and residential towers.” The strategic and fully segregated through-block entrances for office tenants also keeps dense shopping foot traffic away from the office occupants.
“Office activity has been extremely strong,” explains Mosler, “the full floors in the tower satisfy many of the boutique financial firms migrating from Fifth and Park Avenues. Ownership is committed to making deals happen and is efficient in the process.”
Contributing to the robust pick up in interest at 75 Rock is RXR’s own office expansion onto two full floors, signaling the management team’s support for the asset and its fully modernized, ultra-equipped office environment, and an address synonymous with status. It has been noted that other tenants in the area have vocalized the personable nature of the building staff when entering or passing through the building. Mosler continues, “Today, ‘state-of the-art’ goes beyond the physical improvements. Tenants pay up for the amenities and service model, which – when done well – requires hands-on, dedicated ownership to see it through.”
While Manhattan’s midtown trophy towers see the ebbs and flows of market interest, tenants at 75 Rock are meeting ownership’s pricing due to the quality of the physical asset and the level of service. Ira Schuman, Vice Chairman of Savills-Studley, explained, “our clients recognize that beyond the successful transformation and major redevelopment of the property, the building has so many practical advantages – proximity to east and west transportation lines, excellent management, and access to first-class amenities.”
Leading the way in employee well-being and professional success, RXR is currently working with Convene to launch a new concept at 75 Rock, which combines Convene’s existing conferencing amenities on one full tower floor, with a private member experience to drive business networking, wellness and education series, and one-of-a-kind dining experiences on the building’s entire top floor. Michael Burke, Convene’s VP of Real Estate and Development explains the collaboration, “today’s office tenants demand a more evolved workplace, and even the most iconic real estate must adapt. Convene is thrilled to expand on our partnership with RXR as a driving force for the re-imagined employee experience at Rockefeller Center.” This partnership will benefit both co-working entrepreneurs, and the usual suspects of Fifth Avenue financial institutions.
“The building is an ideal fit for foreign banks, wealth management, and boutique financial users,” according to Schuman, who recently represented Austria’s leading bank, Erste, in leasing the entire 12th floor. “Tours are impressive to prospective tenants and RXR is terrific through the transaction process.” RXR’s commitment to customer service and meeting the expectations of future decision makers is apparent.
“Ownership is breathing a new spirit and energy into a Class A trophy building, making it approachable and desirable to the new shifting users and office cultures,” asserts Mosler. RXR’s adoption of forward-thinking leasing and marketing trends further demonstrates management’s foresight surrounding tenant psyche. Pronouncedly so, the current marketing campaign emphasizes the changing face of today’s female executive and speaks to the many female decision-makers touring space at the building. 75 Rock also features a newly completed pre-built collection ranging from 4,000 to 7,500 square feet utilizing a high-end and hospitality-inspired design palette. Management recognizes the demand for such space and anticipates building more of it. Tara Stacom affirms, “the economic value of this level of turnkey space outranks competitive availabilities in the market.”
On a final note, RXR recently completed a $300 million refinancing with TH Real Estate – another piece of the plan to adapt this marquee asset for today’s tenant. The modernization of 75 Rockefeller Plaza demonstrates the power of an owner and developer when it is committed, not only to leasing space today, but to investing in the holistic success of its tenants tomorrow.