Rocket Development Partners is a joint venture of Essex Capital Ltd. and AscendAmerica LLC.  Collectively, we aim to identify and develop real estate projects which qualify for capital gains tax incentives and deferrals under the  Opportunity Zone program.  Rocket’s first project is the development of a mixed-use community in a strategic location in the downtown core of Huntsville, Alabama.


Essex Capital, a New York-based national real estate development company was founded in 1991 by Mitchell B. Rutter.   An accomplished real estate developer with over 30 years of industry experience, Mitch has led Essex Capital in the development and management of over 5 million square feet of commercial, residential and retail space. The Essex portfolio includes high profile projects that involved ground-up construction, asset repositioning and large-scale urban planning and revitalization totaling over $1billion.

Essex Capital aggressively pursues opportunities in which distressed real estate assets require additional investment and management expertiseand has effectively transformed underutilized properties into productive and profitable assets.   Essex’ success has emerged through Mitch’s vision and ability to curate neighborhoods and create infrastructure attractive to quality retail, cultural and residential tenants in both primary and secondary markets.


AscendAmerica is a boutique real estate private equity firm whose principals have over 30 years of successful experience identifying and structuring investment opportunities for institutional and high net worth investors seeking above market returns with significant downside protection.

Dan Shields, president and founder of AscendAmerica, is widely regarded in the industry as a creative dealmaker who under-promises and over-delivers. A seasoned banker and fund manager, Dan has led AscendAmerica from its inception through several significant capital raises, transforming the company into a well-respected industry player with a “best in class” reputation.