Rising Up: Developer Chris Rising Is Helping to Reshape Downtown
By Hannah Madans | LABJ
Downtown-based Rising Realty Partners is a huge name in L.A. real estate, especially downtown.
The company, founded in 2011, manages roughly 5 million square feet of office properties, including 2.7 million square feet of space downtown where it focuses on repositioning existing buildings.
In January, Christopher Rising, son of veteran developer Nelson Rising, became the company’s chief executive after serving as president. The elder Rising led the company from 2011 until the beginning of this year. Nelson Rising remains with the company as chairman and serves on its investment committee.
Christopher Rising sat down with the Business Journal to talk about learning from his father, the company’s expansion into new markets, impact investing, moving toward a fund business and betting big on downtown.
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You’re big on impact investing — the idea of investing with the goal of positive change while also generating financial gains. Can you explain how that plays into your strategy?
When my father and I started the company, we asked ourselves, “If we were going to start a real estate company today, what would you do?” We came to the conclusion early on that you would build a backbone around technology. We really tried to build a firm that is paperless — using software and using technology in a way that’s really a force multiplier for us. And that has also translated into our buildings. Because of that, we have been able to do things today that weren’t possible before as it relates to owning, managing and investing in buildings.
Did you always want to follow in your dad’s real estate industry footsteps?
No, it was not the plan. If the plan had gone right, I’d be starring in movies or producing them. Real estate was not the be-all, end-all for me. I did go to law school after I taught high school.
What convinced you to change fields?
I got interested in real estate because of the deal side of it, not because of the technical side. Working for John Cushman opened my eyes to all the things that can be done in real estate. I was fortunate out of that period of time when my dad sold (development company) Catellus for it to come together. It was in my mid-30s; it was not in my 20s coming out of school.
What was your early career path?
My first job was at Loyola High School, teaching U.S. history and Western Civ and coaching football. My real introduction in real estate was, I went to Loyola Law School and then I worked for Mike Meyer, who is a well-known leasing attorney, and John Whitaker, who is a well-known transaction attorney. Out of that, I got the opportunity to work for John Cushman. John had a role in what was called the Office of the President that was really for a young lawyer who wanted to move into brokerage. The person before me was Lyn Williams, who is a very, very accomplished broker in town. When Lyn moved on her own, I started working with John in that role. It opened up the world of real estate to me.