The Closing: Scott Rechler

Scott Rechler
Scott Rechler (photo by Marc Scrivo)
Scott Rechler is the CEO and chairman of RXR Realty, a multibillion-dollar private real estate company with roughly 20 million square feet of Class A office and industrial space. The firm — which is headquartered in Long Island and develops and owns property in the New York Tri-State area — recently completed the purchase of the 2.3 million-square-foot Starrett-Lehigh Building for $920 million. Rechler previously served as CEO and chairman of Reckson Associates Realty, which he sold to SL Green Realty in January 2007 for roughly $6 billion (including the assumption of $2 billion in debt) in one of the largest public real estate management buyouts in REIT history. In September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Rechler vice chairman of the board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

What is your full name?

Scott Howard Rechler, but I don’t use Howard.

What is your date of birth?

Nov. 4, 1967.

Where did you grow up?

Long Island. … Port Washington and Roslyn.

Where do you live now?

In Old Brookville, on the North Shore of Long Island.

Why not New York City?

My wife is a country girl from Arizona. We lived in New York City for a while and we figured the suburban life was more fitting.

Do you have any other homes?

Nope. I love my home. We have a pool, we have a tennis court and we’re able to do a lot of stuff outdoors. I like to cook. I’m a big chef so I like to have a lot of dinner parties.

What’s your culinary specialty?

I do everything. Italian’s my favorite. I did a lot of studying in Italy on Tuscan food. … I make pizzas from scratch. I do risottos. [Takes out his iPad and scrolls through pictures of dishes he prepared.]

Other than cooking, how do you have fun?

I like going to football games — I’m a big Giants fan. I do a lot of hiking and biking. For two weeks in August, my wife and kids [daughter, 18, and son, 14] and I go camping in Utah, stay outside, bathe in the lake and sleep on top of the houseboat under the stars. You’re gone for two weeks and you see no one. We’ve been doing this for 21 years.

There’s an amusing Indiana Jones story behind why you went to Clark University. Can you retell it?

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I went there and there was this beautiful building that looked like one of the buildings from the Indiana Jones movies. It had the big stairwell, the big windows, that whole look. … I met my wife there. My general counsel and partner, I met there. I was president of the student body and he was my treasurer.

For the Rechler clan, real estate has been a family affair.

My grandfather built the first planned industrial park in New York City. It was in Newtown Creek in Brooklyn in 1958. And then he went to Long Island to build industrial parks there. Then my father and uncle got into building office buildings in the suburbs with Reckson. I came into the business after my brother and my cousin, and we took the company public in 1995.

How many siblings do you have?

I’ve got two brothers and one half-brother named Bill. He’s 15. My son and he go to school together. They have lunch and he calls him Uncle Bill. He looks like little Richie Rich.

Do you feel like he’s your brother or your son?

I feel like he’s my nephew. Sometimes I feel like he’s my kid, like when I have to reprimand him. He’s a good kid. He lives 10 minutes from my house. His mother just turned 50. I love her. I’m very close to her. I call her my evil stepmother (laughing). My parents were divorced when I was like three or four years old.

Who’d you grow up with?

[I was with] my mom during the week and my dad during the weekends. That’s why I cook, because we cooked for his dates. It was part of our fun.

Your son tried to persuade you not to sell Reckson. What did he say?

My partner and CFO came over and we were having a discussion the day before we were going to be launching this process of selling the company. So my CFO leaves and then I’m barbecuing that night and my son [who was nine or 10 at the time] comes out and he says, “Dad, I think you’re making a terrible mistake. I would never sell Reckson.” This is what he’s telling me as tears are coming down my face. And then when we were going through the process it became a little tumultuous. It was my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah the day that Carl Icahn announced he was putting in a bid to try to top SL Green’s bid for the company. It was all over CNBC and there was all this craziness going on. And my son comes in and tells me, “I told you; you shouldn’t have tried to sell Reckson.”

What are you reading?

Right now I’m reading David Brooks’ “The Social Animal.” I’m also reading Thomas Friedman’s new book, “That Used to Be Us.” I typically read two books at once.

Are you religious?

I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I say a prayer every day and I think about spiritual stuff.

What prayer?

I pray for different things. It depends on what’s going on in my life, like the health and wellness of my family, that people are safe. … I have some specific prayers.

That you’re not sharing.

That I’m not sharing. Some stuff has to be private.