Elghanayan is CEO of development firm Rockrose Development Group, a major landowner in Manhattan and Queens.
Houchang "Henry" Elghanayan emigrated from Tehran as a child, was raised in Queens, and started his professional life as a lawyer. In 1970, Henry founded Rockrose Development with his brothers Kamran "Thomas" Elghanayan and Frederick Elghanayan. Using money gifted to them by their wealthy father Nourollah, a paper magnate who also dabbled in real estate, the brothers proceeded to acquire and renovate several dilapidated buildings in Greenwich Village. Over the next few years they expanded, picking up parcels of land on the far West Side of Manhattan and turning them into rental properties, such as 666 Greenwich, a one-time storage warehouse that the brothers converted into a 479-unit rental building. The Elghanayans continued along the same path in the '80s, renovating properties like the Shephard House on West 10th Street and 100 Jane Street, before moving into Midtown in the '90s with what remains their marquee development, the 60-story, Cesar Pelli-designed Carnegie Hall Tower. Today all three brothers remain equal partners in Rockrose, although it's Henry who serves as the company's chairman and spokesperson.
The Elghanayans are now among the city's most prolific landowners; their portfolio contains 20 New York residential buildings (such as 99 Wall Street, The Fairfax on East 69th Street, and 2 Gold Street), 10 commercial buildings (300 Park Avenue, 387 Park Avenue, and 645 Madison Avenue), and $400 million worth of property in Washington, D.C. These days they're focusing their development efforts on the up-and-coming West Side neighborhood recently christened Hudson Yards, where they're building several residential buildings. They're also busy in Long Island City—in 2001, they won the bid to develop a 21-acre swath of waterfront land in Long Island City that was once home to Pepsi's bottling factories (and still sports the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign). Rockrose is planning to develop seven residential high-rises in the area, although only two, Avalon Riverview North and EastCoast, have so far been completed. They still acquire the occasional property, too. In June 2007, they purchased 230 Park Avenue for $230 million.
Rockrose is named after the block the Elghanayans grew up on in Queens.
Henry Elghanayan is a big Democratic donor and fundraiser. In 2006, he hosted a $25,000-a-head dinner at his home for Eliot Spitzer and made donations to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Perhaps you've heard of Sharon Elghanayan, the psychiatrist who is currently dating New Jersey governor Jon Corzine? That's the ex-wife of Elghanayan's brother, Thomas.
Elghanayan and his wife, Nancy, live on Fifth Avenue, in the same building as financier Steven Rattner and his wife, Maureen White.
In 2002, Henry Elghanayan paid $210,000 for an ancient Egyptian funeral slab (or stele). Unbeknownst to him, the item was stolen property and in 2003, authorities confiscated the artifact. He managed to get his money back.