Real estate developer James Stuckey recalls the inception of the Russian Trade and Cultural Center.
In 1992, James Stuckey completed a project in Lower Manhattan’s World Trade Center Towers that he still recalls fondly. It was the Russian Trade and Cultural Center, which acted as a US hub for Russian merchants able to take advantage of the now defunct Soviet Union’s recently liberalized trade policies. The contract, which James Stuckey reports was signed in Moscow, gave Russian businessmen their own access to the Gateway of the United States.
James Stuckey recalls that residents of New York City welcomed the Center. The vast layout included a Russian restaurant – something James Stuckey says that New York natives were eager to sample. Also, recalls James Stuckey, shoppers would be treated to open trade in the Center’s shop, whose goal was to sell goods previously only available in the Russian Republic. James Stuckey says that he is always struck by how appropriate it was that this endeavor was located inside the World Trade Center.
The Center made it possible for Russian enterprises to have access to American markets without interference, says James Stuckey. This is important because an open market helps not only the countries involved in their transactions but also filters into the global economy, notes James Stuckey. Partial financing for the project was provided by a small commercial bank in Russia, Inkombank, says James Stuckey. There was also several million dollars-worth of credit given to the project by its Russian sponsor, the International Center for Business Cooperation, notes James Stuckey.
The ICBC’s Deputy Director, Dr. Alexander Volkov, at the time called the project a “new concept in foreign economic relations.” James Stuckey agreed and believes that the business model for the Center has been emulated several times since its founding. However, the project was the first major initiative in the nation to connect American companies with Russian businesses, says James Stuckey.
The project came at a time of great change in Russia, says James Stuckey. The country was finally free of the USSR’s rule and developing its own political and economic climate. The placement of a venture like this in New York was significant to Russian leaders at the time because the city symbolized free trade and open opportunity to all, recalls James Stuckey. The project was pulled together despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, without a stable currency, and at the time no recognition by the State Department. James Stuckey commends the courage of Russian partners in the venture who moved forward despite political Coups and hostility from native opposition.
James Stuckey’s involvement with the project is something of which he is quite proud. He is very thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to Moscow on five separate occasions to work with Russian businessmen. James Stuckey says his Russian business contacts were some of the best he’s ever worked with and that they were all truly men of their word.
James Stuckey is a real estate developer with more than 30 years of experience in both private and public-sector projects. He is currently the head of his own firm, Verdant Properties, LLC®.