By Timothy Bloger, Long Island Press
As president and CEO of Uniondale-based RXR Realty, Long Island’s largest commercial landlord, Scott Rechler has rare insights into local real estate market. We recently caught up with him to get his thoughts on his latest development, the importance of thinking regionally, how to keep up with the fast pace of information and why his homemade pizza dough is the best. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
Long Island Press: You have a few projects in the planning and development phase. Which one are you most excited about?
Scott Rechler: The one that I’m most excited about is what we’re doing in Glen Cove with Garvies Point. It is going to be so transformative to the Glen Cove community in taking what was a blighted, abandoned site and really making it an asset for opening up the waterfront to the community at large.
LIP: What is your vision for the company?
SR: Our focus is really understanding our customers and community that live in the New York Metropolitan region. As the economy changes and demographics change and the needs of our customers change, what we do is create real estate products that ultimately enhance the quality of life and serve our customers and communities. Really having a good understanding of our customers and community is what drives our vision and our strategy.
LIP: How about your vision for The Hub, the area in central Nassau that includes Nassau Coliseum, Museum Row and several colleges and major commercial buildings?
SR: Obviously, we own a lot of property around The Hub and I think having it developed as a mixed-use community with office and entertainment and housing would be a very big positive for that whole downtown Nassau County. I’m disappointed it’s taken so long to get something going there and I’m hopeful now with the new county executive, Laura Curran, it gets accelerated.
LIP: How do you juggle your real estate business with your roles at the MTA and the Regional Plan Association?
SR: Part of it is going back to our strategy, which is very much regionally focused and being an active member of our community. There’s a consistent element of those activities and RXR’s activities that overlap in terms of understanding the community and trying to make the community a better place for people to live and work.
LIP: How do you think the new federal State and Local Tax deduction cap will impact LI?
SR: It’s not a good thing. We already live in a high-cost-of-living community. To the extent that we have higher taxes that add more weight to a branch of something that already has a lot of weight on it. Although I think that people who live in the New York Metropolitan region recognize they have a higher cost of living and they live here for the quality of life, for the job opportunities, for the cultural opportunities. I don’t think we’re going to see a large migration from it, but I think that we’d be better off without having additional costs.
LIP: How did growing up on Long Island shape your worldview?
SR: I grew up in Port Washington and spent a lot of time in downtown Glen Cove because my grandparents lived there, so I spent the summers there. I think growing up, a recognition of the importance of community was always key for me. To have a vested interest in maintaining its vibrancy and competitiveness. Being someone who has always traveled around to the city and the region, understanding that Long Island and New York City and New Jersey and Westchester, while they’re independent, they’re inexplicably linked in the sense that the successes of each are critical for the region as a whole. Having that regional lens from a young age honed my focus.
LIP: Do you have any sayings?
SR: Every six months I put a new saying by my office door of what I want people to be focused on and what I want to be focused on. Right now, it’s ‘regularly recalibrate reality.’ Because we’re living in a world that’s changing so quickly that what was true today, may not be true tomorrow and it may not be true yesterday. My view is you have to regularly recalibrate what that reality is and shift gears as appropriate.
LIP: What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
SR: I love to cook. I don’t know if people know that about that me. I studied cooking in Italy. I pride myself on my homemade pizza dough and pizzas.
The RXR platform manages 71 commercial real estate properties and investments with an aggregate gross asset value of approximately $20.5 billion, comprising approximately 31.4 million square feet of commercial properties, inclusive of approximately 6.0 million square feet of buildings securing debt and preferred equity investments, a multi-family residential portfolio of approximately 2,500 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 as of June 30, 2019. 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.