Scott Rechler leads RXR, a huge real estate developer on Long Island, in New York City, and far beyond. The CEO and chairman of RXR talked with us from his offices at 75 Rockefeller Plaza about projects and a regional approach to real estate, building communities as well as structures.
How big is RXR Realty today?
We’re about $22 billion of assets, about 25 million square feet of commercial space, 12,000 units of multifamily. We’re building a new John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 6, a $4.5 billion terminal next to Jet Blue. And we have a $1 billion lending business as well.
How has telecommuting impacted offices?
I think what we’ve seen is there’s been an evolution of people trying to determine the balance between working in the office and remote work. There was a tug of war. Hybrid work is here to stay. Three or four days in the office. The other days working remotely at home or remote office.
How does that affect real estate?
They still need an office to work in. There’s some contraction and shifting of what’s in the office space. People want to make offices a place to come, collaborate with team members, energize, be mentored, and be a more magnetic place than the old places.
Why and how involved is RXR in housing?
We stopped investing in offices in 2016 and began to focus on housing, mostly to think about the buildings we had in the city and even on Long Island. People were looking for affordable, high-quality housing. We began to focus on transit-oriented development surrounding Manhattan, New Rochelle, Glen Cove, Yonkers, and Hempstead, where you can build high-quality housing with amenities by transit that connects to the city. We have been doing that in New York. We’re expanding in Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Tampa, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Can you update us on RXR’s residential development in the Village of Hempstead?
We’re working toward moving. We have sites we’re dedicated to. We’re hoping this is the year we can start breaking ground.
Can you talk about your projects in Glen Cove, Garvies Point, and any other places on Long Island?
Garvies Point Master Development, a smart growth, mixed-use community located along the shores of Hempstead Harbor, is a good example of recreating destinations that build communities within communities. We took an old waterfront, really a brownfield, in Glen Cove, and transformed it into a community with 28 acres of parks and an esplanade along the water. We’re the master developer in New Rochelle. It’s a public-private partnership model, to not only build good residential communities, but make the communities stronger and more vibrant.
What’s the latest with the Nassau Hub and Las Vegas Sands?
We’re working as a developer with Sands. We’re glad to see that the county has come to terms with Sands. They’re in the process of moving with Hempstead on the approval process for the entertainment district.
What’s the goal of your projects beyond profit?
The goal is to build communities. New York City is a superstar city. To be successful, you have to think regionally. This is part of an interconnected superstar region. If you can build suburban downtowns with high-quality amenities and transportation connectivity to the city, you’re creating that ecosystem.
What are your plans for the Grand Central Terminal and Grand Central Madison area?
Around Grand Central is where we have most of our buildings. We have a project planned where the existing Hyatt hotel is. We would demolish the Hyatt hotel and build what would be the tallest office building in the western hemisphere at 175 Park Avenue. With an anticipated height of 1,575 feet and encompassing over 2.8 million square feet, when built, 175 Park is planned to be one of the healthiest, most sustainable office buildings in New York City. It would have a hotel on top and an office building at the base. It’d be over Grand Central. We’d invest over $350 million in expanding the Grand Central Terminal and connectivity to the Long Island Rail Road. We have demand from large companies that want to be there. It’s such a great location.
Haven’t you also been a key player at LaGuardia International Airport and now JFK?
I was involved with LaGuardia as the vice chairman of the Port Authority. With JFK, we partnered with an airport management company. We’re building a new Terminal 6. It’s going to be a high-end, more boutique terminal for the major airlines that want to fly international and connect through Jet Blue for domestic routes. We broke ground in November and expect to deliver the first phase in 2026 and the second in 2028.
Why the interest beyond New York?
We’ve expanded. We call these cities superstar regions that are magnets for knowledge workers. The New York City metro area is where the talent wants to be. Talent has been distributed to other cities like Phoenix, Tampa, Denver, Dallas, Raleigh North Carolina. We’ve been expanding in those markets.
What would you like leaders to do?
It’s not just political leaders. We’re living in a moment like never before that requires us not relying on policies that worked in the past and assuming they work in the future. We need leadership that’s willing to be more creative from the public, business and civic standpoint. We have an affordable housing crisis. We need solutions. We have older office buildings that need to be converted to multifamily. Can we streamline the regulatory process and create incentives? We have the migrant and asylum-seeker issues. How are we going to address that?