Rockefeller Center Owners File under Bankruptcy Laws

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) _ The owners of Rockefeller Center sought bankruptcy protection Thursday, hobbled by a prolonged real estate slump that caused steep rental losses at one of the world's glitziest addresses.

Rockefeller Center Properties and RCP Associates said in a statement they had taken the action under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws to develop a reorganization plan "that will be in the best interests of the creditors, tenants and employees of the properties."

They said the action taken in U.S. Bankruptcy Court because of "the impact of the deep and prolonged recession in the New York real estate market."

Under Chapter 11, creditors get a reprieve from debt payments while they work out a plan to repay creditors and stay in business, but must operate under supervision of a bankruptcy court judge. Tenants, employees and services won't be affected by the action, the owners said.

The namesake of the multibillionaire Rockefeller family is one of the most famous landmarks in the world, a multiblock layout of Art Deco skyscrapers home to nationally known fixtures ranging from Radio City musical hall to the NBC broadcast studios.

The world headquarters of The Associated Press, the world's largest news gathering organization, is also housed there.

The financial travails of the owners reflects the protracted slump in the commercial real estate market in Manhattan, which has reduced demand, lowered rental income and led to higher competition for tenants.

Rockefeller Center's problems have been compounded by the financial distress confronting Mitsubishi Estate, a large Japanese property business that acquired an 80 percent stake in Rockefeller Group six years ago for $1.4 billion, when the market peaked.

At the time the investment was seen as a reflection of Japan's economic pre-eminence and thirst for showcase U.S. properties ranging from Hollywood studios to golf courses and cattle ranches. But Mitsubishi's ownership in Rockefeller Center is now estimated at less than half its earlier value. …