Real Estate Developer.com

 
 Search
 Real Estate Developer
 
 

 Real Estate
 Developer Articles
 Commercial Real Estate
 Developers - 1900s
 Commercial Real Estate
 Developers - 20th Century
 John Raskob and Al Smith -
 Empire State Building
 Walt Disney and Disneyland -
 Theme Park Real Estate Developer
 Victor Gruen -
 Father of the Shopping Mall
 Junior Rockefeller -
 Rockefeller Center

 

Originally conceived as Metropolitan Square, Rockefeller Center was at the time New York City's greatest real estate development and construction project, and was tremendously important to the commercial contractors and construction companies in the city.
 
 Home > Real Estate Developer Profiles > Junior Rockefeller - Rockefeller Center

Real Estate Developer Profiles

Junior Rockefeller - Rockefeller Center

Originally conceived as Metropolitan Square, Rockefeller Center was at the time New York City's greatest real estate development and construction project, and was tremendously important to the commercial contractors and construction companies in the city.Originally conceived as Metropolitan Square, a complex anchored by the Metropolitan Opera, Rockefeller Center was at the time the greatest real estate development and construction project in the city, and was tremendously important to the commercial contractors and construction companies in the city - due to the Depression it was one of the only major projects underway, and was responsible for employing more construction workers than any other project of its era. Its significance in the history of American real estate development is due to being one of the first "destination" developments - instead of simply drawing from nearby attractions or facilities, Rockefeller Center was intended to be the destination, setting the stage for a number of other "destination" projects that would follow in the latter part of the 1900s. Today's planned multi-purpose developments that include office space, retail and shopping areas, housing, and parks and recreation are direct descendants of Rockefeller Center.

The Metropolitan Opera was intended to be the anchor in the development, drawing visitors and prestige to the complex. After negotiations fell through and fund-raising dried up, the Metropolitan Opera backed out of its commitment, leaving Junior Rockefeller to develop the project on his own. Rockefeller had signed a commitment conveying him rights to develop the property at a cost of $3.3 million per year for twenty-four years. The stake of his personal investment alone caused him to move ahead with the project. He later stated that it had never been his goal to become a real estate developer, but he embraced the role whole-heartedly, with spectacular results.

His managing agent, John Todd, was delighted the project went ahead: his contract giving him a share in the rents encouraged him to construct the square to become the world's finest shopping and office district. Unlike many designs for buildings in that era, Todd ensured that architects maximized usable space in each building, thus maximizing rent income and user convenience and affordability. The construction plans called for a central tower surrounded by a plaza and lower towers and corner office buildings. RCA, recently spun off from General Electric, was slated to be the major tenant of the central building.

Rockefeller eventually spent and committed almost $100 million on the project. He received a construction loan from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, who had become a regular financer of construction projects for real estate developers throughout the city. In order to receive the loan, he was required to pledge personal assets as collateral. (At the time, few shared his vision of a "destination" development - many experts of the day felt the project would fail.) Because of its cost, practicality was the order of the day for the architects and contractors. Plans were constantly modified to take advantage of construction efficiencies and to maximize rentable space, keeping costs low both for the developer and for potential tenants.

Originally conceived as Metropolitan Square, Rockefeller Center was at the time New York City's greatest real estate development and construction project, and was tremendously important to the commercial contractors and construction companies in the city.The battle to acquire land for the whole complex also presented challenges for the developers. When property owners at the corners of 49th and 50th streets set their sale prices too high, the tower was simply designed and built around them. "Roxy" Rothafel, a burlesque theater and show designer, built the Radio City Music Hall to take advantage of the proximity to the Center. As the development took shape, many other local businessmen scrambled to position themselves to take advantage of the magnet the Center would become.

Seventy-five thousand union construction workers made the site into a center of activity so attractive to passersby there was an official sidewalk-superintendents club, complete with membership cards. Six buildings and two theaters were almost complete when large companies started signing agreements to move their headquarters to the square, and more became interested when it became clear that Rockefeller Center would be the most important new mid-town business center.

When the seventy-story RCA Building was completed in 1933 (as the major tenant they had naming rights), Junior moved the family offices to the fifty-sixty floor of the skyscraper. (The RCA Building is now commonly known as 30 Rockefeller Center, or "30 Rock" for short.) Nelson, still in his twenties, earned a real-estate license and soon became a salesman for empty office space at Rockefeller Center. Several companies in the Rockefeller organization, like Standard Oil of New Jersey, Socony-Vacuum, Standard Oil of California, and Chase National Bank, took space. In 1938, the first year it turned a profit, Nelson was named president of Rockefeller Center. By the time Junior hammered in the last of over ten million rivets in 1939, he had transformed the project from the butt of malicious jokes into what would become an outstanding triumph of Depression-era real estate development and construction.

In 1948, Rockefeller Center was bought by Junior's five sons for $442,000 each, plus their agreement to take on a debt of $10.6 million each, payable to Junior's estate only at the time of any future sale to non-family members. The influx of new capital allowed Rockefeller Center to expand, paving the way for construction of towers for Esso (now Exxon) and other former tenants who now wanted buildings of their own. As the postwar boom hit full stride, the value of Rockefeller Center increased astronomically, becoming the single most-important source of income for the Rockefeller family. In fact, their fortune was no longer derived from oil - it came mostly from Manhattan real estate. Very few families (or companies) successfully shift their core business from one industry to another, especially a company as large as Standard Oil, then the largest oil company in the world. Real estate development, and the vision to pursue worthwhile projects in the face of public skepticism, allowed the Rockefellers to affect an amazing transformation in their business. Rockefeller Center stands as a monument both to John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and to the family's willingness to pursue a real estate development project many thought would fail.

Oddly enough, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., patriarch of the family and the business operations, remained curiously indifferent to the complex that has perpetuated his name. Even though Rockefeller Center's nineteen buildings now cover 11 acres in mid-town Manhattan, he reportedly never set foot in any of the Rockefeller Center buildings, even though the complex was named in his honor.

Texas California New York Georgia
Copyright 2005-2013 Real Estate Developer.com

Bob Moore Construction

Bob Moore Construction works with the top real estate developers in the United States. Bob Moore Construction is a top construction company and general contractor in Texas and has grown the commercial real estate market in Dallas, Fort Worth and all of Texas since 1946. The commercial construction company's portfolio includes a wide range of concrete buildings, including warehouses, distribution centers, office buildings, call centers, flex tech buildings and retail stores. Learn more about Bob Moore Construction at

General Contractor.com