Long before James Stuckey founded Verdant Properties, LLC®, he served as the Managing Director for Gronich & Co., where he conceived a deal he recalls fondly to this day. Today, Information Nation speaks with James Stuckey about the Russian Trade and Cultural Center, which was appropriately located in the World Trade Center.
Information Nation: Thank you for taking this time with us today.
James Stuckey: You’re welcome; I am honored to be of assistance.
Information Nation: As you may know, Information Nation usually likes to focus on current events but we recently found an article about the Russian Trade and Cultural Center that sparked our interests. Can you tell us a little about what it was?
James Stuckey: Certainly, where would you like me to begin?
Information Nation: First, can you tell us about when it created?
James Stuckey: We worked on this development from 1990-1992, as the Soviet Union was collapsing.
Information Nation: What was its goal?
James Stuckey: To allow members of the newly formed Russian Federation to establish free trade in the United States.
Information Nation: How hard is it to make a deal to create something that has never been done before?
James Stuckey: In this case it was very difficult since we were dealing with a newly formed governmental group that was still feuding with the Soviet hardliners.
Information Nation: Why a port for Russian commerce in America?
James Stuckey: At the time there were horrible monopolies controlled by Soviet Organizations. This was a great way to open up trade that was mutually beneficial to both the US and the new Republic.
Information Nation: What Soviet Body did you have to bypass to even get this off the ground?
James Stuckey: The Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade.
Information Nation: The economy was a bit off at the time, as I recall. Did a down real estate market have any negative impact?
James Stuckey: It was a modest deal – worth nearly $40 million.
Information Nation: So, what did the Center actually house?
James Stuckey: Its plan was for Russian business offices and plenty of trade show space.
Information Nation: Was it to be publically accessible?
James Stuckey: Yes, and the intention was to expose New Yorkers to Russian Culture as well.
Information Nation: How large was the area leased?
James Stuckey: It was 80,000 square feet.
Information Nation: You were involved with this project from the start, yes?
James Stuckey: I was. I made 5 trips to Russia to close the deal.
Information Nation: Changing gears a bit… Doesn’t the US State Dept. usually participate in these types of deals?
James Stuckey: Not in this one – in fact, it was their first time hands-off lease signing. Prior to this, the lease would have been to the State Department who would have sublet to the Soviets.
Information Nation: The State Dept. handles many foreign leases, right?
James Stuckey: They do.
Information Nation: The Center came at a great time for Russia.
James Stuckey: Yes it truly did, and the Russians were very proud of their center.
Information Nation: As they should have been.
James Stuckey: Yes, any country that tries to open up opportunities for its people deserves applause.
Information Nation: Absolutely. We appreciate your sharing this bit of New York City history with our readers.
James Stuckey: Anytime.