The Plan: Inside the New 75 Rock

By Liam La Guerre, Commercial Observer

Around the same time Tina Fey’s 30 Rock ended in Jan. 2013, RXR Realty acquired a 99-year, triple-net lease for 75 Rockefeller Plaza from billionaire Mohamed Al Faye.

The 1947 building had never seen a top-down renovation before, and it was about to become vacant as Time Warner Cable was leaving for Columbus Circle a year later, as CO reported at the time.

So RXR began a $150 million plan for the new 75 Rock, which is on on 52nd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue to make the building more competitive with other modern towers. That renovation is complete and set to debut tomorrow, and from the screws to the 18 elevators (14 of which are passenger), “everything is new,” William Elder, an Executive Vice President at RXR, told Commercial Observer during a tour of the building today.

Well, it would be 100 percent new, but the landmarked Indiana limestone façade is protected and can only be cleaned or enhanced, and even that requires New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approval—which RXR received.

“This is storied ground,” Elder said. “This is a worldwide address—every tourist comes here and New Yorkers think of this as a great place to do business. We wanted to be true to the building’s history, but we also wanted to be true to the modern elements of what you have to deliver to tenants to make it a functionally place for them to do business.”

The change of the building is really felt in its 24-foot high lobby, which was “just horrendous” with black granite walls, Elder said. The new Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed lobby has been made brighter with white marble walls and quartz floors. Also, the landlord put the same Indiana limestone that makes up the exterior of the building on two walls in the lobby.

With an empty building, RXR took time to revamp the tower’s efficiency as well. It compacted and adjusted the core— which contains key elements for each floor, such as bathrooms, staircases, elevators, utility rooms and kitchens—to make more space on the floors for tenants. And columns were shrunk as well.

RXR prebuilt the roughly 14,000-square-foot 19th and 27th floors of the building with marble floors and carpeting, enclosed glassed private offices with large wooden doors, and drop ceilings—a noticeable difference from lofty spaces that technology advertising media and information tenants lust for. And that’s because they expect to attract financial institutions, law firms, consulting firms, hedge funds, accounting firms, law firms.

Cushman & Wakefield is marketing vacant space in the building, which is priced at about $90 to more than $100 per square foot.

The brokerage has already leased 40,000 square feet of retail space to American Girl and 185,343 square feet to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (an arm of the bank) as the anchor tenant of the 623,000-square-foot building.

Most of the ground floor and the entire retail basement will be occupied by American Girl, but there is a remaining 5,000 square feet on the ground floor, which features up to 24 foot ceiling heights. Elder believes that that space could be for a high end restaurateur. (Elder wouldn’t reveal who they were talking to).

In the future RXR hopes to design a terrace with lounge chairs and plantings on the buildings’ set back, which is on the 10th floor. But for now the landlord is so proud of its work on the tower, RXR is moving its Manhattan offices at 1330 Avenue of the Americas to the entire 14,000-square-foot 14th floor of the 33-story tower.

“When the owner takes a space in their building, to the outside world who wants to come in, that’s the strongest statement you could make,” Elder said. “We’re proud of this asset and what we have done.”

Published: February 1, 2017
Filed Under: Redevelopment

The RXR platform manages 61 commercial real estate properties and investments with an aggregate gross asset value of approximately $18.5 billion, comprising approximately 24.4 million square feet of commercial properties, inclusive of a multi-family residential portfolio of approximately 2,600 units under operation or development, and control of development rights for an additional approximately 3,700 multi-family and for sale units in the New York Metropolitan area. Gross asset value compiled by RXR Realty in accordance with company fair value measurement policy and is comprised of capital invested by RXR and its partners, as well as leverage.