Real estate was not Chris Rising’s first, or even second, option. Despite the fact that his father, Nelson Rising, had earned considerable success and a reputation that would suggest an easy path into the industry, young Chris had other plans. After all, when the legendary Steve Spurrier selects you as one of the first recruits of his collegiate football head-coaching career, something special is likely percolating.
Chris never made it to the National Football League, but he gleaned plenty of life lessons while playing for Spurrier at Duke University—lessons core to how he conducts his business today. After coaching briefly at the high school level, he earned a law degree, discovered he wasn’t passionate about law, and finally, in his late 30s, and joined his father at MPG Office Trust.
Not long after exiting MPG, the pair co-founded Rising Realty Partners, with the sole purpose of creating great places using impact-focused strategies. The company decreases its environmental footprint by incorporating sustainable practices into every asset; integrates cutting-edge technology to drive efficiency; and implements strategic wellness programs to increase tenant satisfaction, retention, and well-being. Father and son attribute the firm’s success to the culture they instilled from day one. “Chris shares the same values as I do,” Nelson says. “You must always treat people fairly.”
CSQ had the opportunity to connect with Chris and Nelson about career paths, technology, and Los Angeles’ status as a hotbed of interconnected innovation. As a lifelong Angeleno, he is a staunch advocate for the city’s upside as preparations for hosting the 2028 Olympics kick into overdrive.
What was the impetus for becoming so directly involved in the revitalization of Downtown L.A.?
Chris: Southern California and Los Angeles are just in my DNA. When I was young, my dad got involved in politics and in 1973 he was campaign manager for Tom Bradley’s winning run for L.A. mayor against Sam Yorty. Since that time my father was deeply involved with Tom as a personal advisor. He had fights with Henry Waxman about the Red Line, going back to 1973. I grew up with it; it’s where I’m from. Other than the four years I lived in North Carolina when I went to Duke, I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life: Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Brentwood. I grew up in Glendale and spent time in La Cañada and Pasadena for the past 15 years. I think the city we are becoming by the time the Olympics hits is going be the city of the future for the globe because we will have connected ourselves in ways that other cities haven’t.
How has the father/son dynamic been impacted by being in the same industry/business?
Nelson: I was very pleased when Christopher chose to join me in real estate. We’ve had a wonderful working relationship—much more than father/son—and we do have a great father/son relationship. Over the many years we have worked together, on a day-to-day basis, our relationship has developed a deeper trust and confidence in one another.
What have you learned from each other?
Chris: As I grew up, I watched my father as he and his partners built the tallest building and he was the partner in charge of Library Tower [now U.S. Bank Tower]. I watched my father being involved with city council people and county supervisors. He was the chairman after Eli Broad of the Grand Avenue Committee. I’ve learned so much over the years.
Nelson: Chris is much more up to speed on embracing and integrating modern technology into our office and our properties, which has been a very helpful lesson. It’s helped me to be more efficient in my day-to-day work.
Is there a shift in how physical workspace decisions are being made, and how does that affect the larger dynamic of the workforce?
Chris: What’s changed dramatically is that today companies look at their office space as part of how they attract employees. The office space is as important as the benefits package and the salary. Today when we do tours, one thing that is so markedly different is that, depending on the size of the company, it’s usually a committee, with a lot of HR people, and not the CEO … talking about how they can create an environment that will draw the best employees. In the past, the location needed to be near a CEO’s residence, town club, or country club. It didn’t really matter about the employees.
What opportunities do you see in the Western U.S. markets, and Southern California in particular?
Chris: Our company goal over the next three years is to invest $300M of equity in nine markets, five of those in California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The others are Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland, and Seattle. California is the most populous state—it has a strong millennial demographic, great universities, and some great public-private partnerships with public transit. It’s unbelievably diverse.
Do your personal feelings about climate change and the environment influence decisions you make on behalf of your business?
Chris: I believe the climate is changing due to human beings’ production of carbon, creating greenhouse gases. This millennial generation believes in climate change. They’ve seen grandparents die from being in buildings that had asbestos and lead paint. They don’t want to do that. We believe adhering to LEED Platinum standards drives tenancy and occupancy and creates community, so that’s why we do the things we do.