What follows is a sample of Craig’s portfolio of over $15 billion representing approximately 25 million SF.
One of the first problems Craig solved for Howard and the rapidly growing Starbucks Corporation was the urgent need for more space with expansion built into the deal, for both their HQ and roasting plant. The solution to the HQ was partnering with Frank Stagen and Kevin Daniels, the building owners, to redevelop a 90-year-old Sears warehouse into the iconic Starbucks HQ, turning storage space into an initial 250,000 SF class A office space leased for up to 20 years at 50% of market rates.
At the same time, Craig negotiated adjacent expansion space in the HQ building of up to another 1.1 million SF planned to meet Starbucks’ growth over the next 20 years. This expansion space was at the same below market rates, exercisable any time during the lease with 30 days’ notice, in increments as low as 5,000 SF, and with no holding cost for all the expansion. This adaptive reuse of the old Sears building was proof of Starbucks environmental consciousness as the 1.4 million SF, historic Sears warehouse was one of only two (out of 20 similar sized nationwide) not to be demolished and sent to a landfill.
“As a landlord, I sat across the table from Kinzer during tough negotiations. I was consistently impressed with Kinzer’s ability to take on very complex transactions, and come up with creative solutions that worked for all parties.”
Frank Stagen, Former CEO / Nitze-Stagen & Company, Inc
Starbucks stores and demand from customers was growing much faster than the planned supply of roasted coffee. Starbucks was beginning to realize it had a “tiger by the tail” and was experiencing incredible, exponential growth that peaked during holiday seasons. Accordingly, Craig brokered the development from ground-up of Starbucks first standalone roasting plant in Kent Washington, which was completed in record time to meet the overwhelming demand for the first holiday season after the company went public. Following the Kent roasting plant, Craig led the siting and development of six Starbucks roasting plants in North America and Europe.
“Kinzer has the ability to tackle unique projects that require additional services, such as working with government agencies, navigating land use challenges, and creating strategies related to our competition. Kinzer knows how to identify meaningful financial metrics for our company, and then structure a deal to obtain the maximum value.”
Norma Miller, Former Director of Corporate Facilities and Real Estate / Starbucks
Another Starbucks requirement Kinzer was asked to meet, came with a solution that unfortunately led to a serious and unforeseen dilemma that Kinzer was also entrusted to solve. The assignment was to lease or build a 500,000 SF satellite headquarters with ample parking, located as close as possible to the main headquarters that had filled up much faster than anticipated. The solution was assembling two sites in Pioneer Square, and managing the redevelopment of the historic 83 King Building and connecting it to the new construction of the 505 First Ave Building to create Starbucks 1/2 million SF satellite HQ office, meeting parking requirements with the first parking garage in the region built 40 feet below the water table.
Unfortunately, just after 83 King/505 was completed, it had to be immediately surplused due to the great recession. The development had started 18 months before the collapse of Bear Stearns and was completed after the recession started, when Starbucks stock was at an all-time low, and cash was critical. Starbucks asked Kinzer to sell 83 King/505 and take an unsolicited offer made by the prior owner ($30 million all cash, as no credit for RE was available at this point in the recession). Craig, utilizing his strong relationship with the C-Suite, asked for more time.
Kinzer got that extra time and quickly leased 83 King/505 as the local HQ for Dell/EMC, soon followed by negotiating the sale of the building for $123 million, less than two years after that first unsolicited offer. By the time of the sale, Starbucks stock was up and continuing its meteoric rise as one of the most respected global brands in history.
“Kinzer convinced our CFO to hold off on selling 83 King/505 and putting it lower on the list of transactions needed to create liquidity; given Craig’s relationships with the C-suite, only he could have gotten away with that. After we reluctantly passed on the initial offer based on Craig’s advice, he then leased the building and sold it for four times as much!”
Jay Phillips, Former Director of Corporate Facilities / Starbucks
On behalf of Adobe Systems Northwest, Kinzer cited and negotiated the development of the first large urban tech campus in Seattle. The initial direction by Adobe’s California executives was to locate on the Eastside in space like their San Jose offices with the Microsoft headquarters as an example.
Craig worked with Adobe Director, Julie Humling, to convince California leadership that Adobe’s Northwest headquarters should be different; that a downtown tech campus would have a recruiting edge for young workers wanting the lifestyle and energy of an urban campus with related amenities and public transit. The resulting Adobe Systems 275,000 SF Seattle headquarters, located in Fremont along the ship canal, was a precursor to many tech firms that followed, and was on the leading edge of Seattle becoming one of the most robust tech hubs in the country.
“Moving to the Eastside was the original direction given by San Jose executives. Craig worked with our local office leadership to sell San Jose on the idea that the advantages of developing an urban campus in Seattle far outweighed moving to the Eastside. Craig is a genius at creating leverage. This site was a differentiator and gave us an edge in recruiting that other tech firms would soon emulate. Not wanting Adobe’s “preferred” Eastside locations to go to waste, Craig used this leverage and his genius with numbers to negotiate a complex, yet impressively easy to implement, “formula rent” transaction with the developer.”
Julie Humling, Former Director of Real Estate and Facilities / Adobe
Kinzer’s knowledge of the Puget Sound area and track record of discovering unique sites and opportunities is well known in the industry, but Craig feels his passion and connections to the community through the years are more important in the long run. Kinzer has sought out and provided services for non-profit and civic clients such as the Salvation Army, University of Washington, Sound Transit, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Forterra, Fred Hutch, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Institute. Kinzer’s work also includes considerable pro-bono work for smaller non-profits like Mary’s Place.
“To us, the Kinzer team is just love. They may be in the business of finding business owners a place to work and operate, but to us, they were the gift to thousands of families.”
Marty Hartman, Executive Director / Mary’s Place
This love of community was established early when Kinzer led the assemblages that would ultimately house Benaroya Hall, T-Mobile Field (then Safeco Field), three city halls located in King County, and Central Services for six major hospitals.
“Kinzer is, of course, well known for his work in placing the finest of our corporate citizens into new space. What is less known is his overarching commitment to our community.”
Dan Dixon, Chief Community Engagement Officer / Providence Health Services
“There is a world of difference between most brokers who talk a good game, and Kinzer, who really performs more than promised; achieving extraordinary results.”
Bob Watt, Former Deputy Mayor / City of Seattle
City of Seattle
One city hall purchased by Kinzer was for the City of Seattle. Craig, along with deputy Mayors Levinson and Watt, saw the opportunity and Kinzer then problem solved to make it a reality, culminating in the acquisition of Key Tower (renamed the Seattle Municipal Tower). Craig simultaneously negotiated with the building owner under a cloud of foreclosure and each of the seven banks holding the debt (without an Intercreditor Agreement). The deal would achieve a 50-cents-on-the-dollar purchase price, tax-exempt financing, and the nation’s first high-rise municipal campus. It was ultimately one of the most successful and complicated real estate transactions in City of Seattle history. This was followed by Kinzer’s off-market purchase of an adjacent half block assemblage for the City’s Justice Center.
“Working with the public sector–dealing with elected officials and community input–is quite different than working in the private sector. Kinzer has a successful track record in both, and very few do. Craig has a strong commitment to the community, which also sets him apart.”
Anne Levinson, Former Deputy Mayor / City of Seattle
“The Kinzer team continues to exceed my expectations, especially when it comes to getting results on complex, challenging projects involving many stakeholders. Kinzer’s credibility with all the decision-makers allows everyone to reach consensus and sets all parties up for the best possible outcome.”
Honorable Greg Nickels, Former Mayor / City of Seattle
HCSA: A Joint Venture of Six Major Hospitals
In some cases, the local team of experts gathered by Craig at the beginning of an assignment go above and beyond the call of duty. For example, Kinzer was asked to facilitate the Joint Venture (JV) between the six largest hospitals in Western Washington, known as the Hospital Central Services Association (HCSA), and then represent this JV to site, finance and build a $75 million state-of-the-art facility to be owned and operated by all the Hospitals. Adding to the challenge, the Hospital CFOs requested that Craig have the facility developed without any financing or guarantees from the JV or any of the Hospitals.
Kinzer developed a creative form of 100% financing from multiple lenders. This debt structure (and thus the project) would not have been successful but for team member Dean Allen and his company, McKinstry. They went outside their wheel house to be the lender for the last and most risky portion of the capital stack needed to close on this 100% non-recourse project financing.
“Craig surrounds himself with the best in the industry. Thus, you can really trust Kinzer to always provide the best possible results, whether he executes to a solution, creates an opportunity, or usually both!”
Paul Berger, Former CEO / Hospital Central Services Association (HCSA)
T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field)
Another civic project by Kinzer involved the State’s newest Ballpark. Craig secured the last of over nine acres needed for the new Ballpark, moving 26 tenants, and negotiating over 35 transactions, all in just six months to meet the scheduled demolition for the start of Ballpark construction in time to host the All-Star Game.
“Looking back, I still think the job we asked Kinzer to do was truly impossible, a fool’s errand.
First, we asked Craig to secure the last of the 9-acre assemblage, including the unenviable task of negotiating with the “government’ of Burlington Northern Railroad to acquire land in between their railroad tracks for the stanchions supporting the movable roof. At the same time, he had to find new locations for 25 to 30 tenants, including a methadone clinic, and negotiate the buyout of their leaseholds while coordinating the move to their new (and acceptable) location… all in just 6 months before demolition started.
The fact that Craig accomplished it all in time, was nothing short of a miracle!”
Bob Wallace, CEO / Wallace Properties and former Board Member / Washington State Public Facilities District (Safeco Field/T-Mobile Park)
Coming full circle, eighteen years later, Craig was appointed as a board member of the Washington State Public Facilities District to assist with the negotiation of a new 25-year, multi-billion-dollar lease with the Mariner’s for their continued use of the Ballpark.
“I sat next to Craig for several years on the WSPFD Board. He works very hard and knows his stuff. Result? Anyone reporting to the board better have their act together. On his own time and initiative, Craig actually built an Excel spreadsheet that was far more detailed and accurate than what the hired advisors were using to support negotiations. Thus, Craig was able to discover and highlight several material issues exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars that needed to be addressed.
Craig is all about integrity. He takes the Trust put in him very seriously, and over numerous years and deals, taxpayers have been fortunate to have someone of Craig’s experience and expertise on their side.”
Dale Sperling, Retired CEO / Unico Properties and former board member / Washington State Public Facilities District (Safeco Field/T-Mobile Park)
Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Institute
Kinzer’s relationship with Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) started two decades ago with its then CEO Truman Katz, who had dramatically strengthened the Hospital’s finances. In 2005, new CEO Tom Hansen emphasized research and envisioned the Research Institute growing by leaps and bounds; from just 20,000 SF at the start of Tom’s tenure to eventually 2 million SF in downtown Seattle. Tom called upon Craig to supply the space for his aspirational vision.
Thus, one of the first projects Craig tackled for Tom was the immediate need for more lab space in months, not years (needed to house the world-class researchers that had been hired at an accelerating rate) for Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI). The opportunity Kinzer discovered to meet that need was the off-market, acquisition of a new 215,000 SF state-of-the-art lab building soon to be empty as the building’s tenant (GlaxoSmithKline) was being acquired by Unilever. The GSK leasehold was quickly vacated by their new parent company, allowing Kinzer to negotiate a bargain purchase of the property being priced as an empty building.
At the same time, this off-market building was under contract, the opportunity was expanded by secretly assembling two adjacent downtown blocks at market pricing (purchased from entrenched owners, including one family outside the United States that had owned the property in trust for over 90 years).
This turned a short-term fix into the long-term solution with an assemblage providing the potential for almost 2 million SF for SCRI’s future urban campus.
“Kinzer truly cares about his clients; he really took the time to understand our organization. Any firm can search for property, but Kinzer creates an opportunity that’s a perfect fit for your long-term needs.”
Dr. Tom Hansen, Former CEO / Seattle Children’s Hospital
A couple of years later, Craig, along with McKinstry CEO Dean Allen, convinced SCH to redevelop the old Qwest Building (1915 Terry Building) located in the middle of the assemblage. The building had been empty for many years and was slated for demolition by SCH. Kinzer removed Children’s development risk by negotiating a pre-lease with Amazon that had the new tenant paying for GC insurance and a completion guaranty. Instead of the $5 million cost of demolition, this redevelopment created instant net value of over $100 million to Children’s*, plus the redevelopment was also done to provide 260,000 SF shell lab space allowing for easy conversion for SCRI expansion, at the option of Children’s any time after the first 10 years of the 20-year Amazon lease.
“Kinzer doesn’t think anything is impossible. He likes to challenge himself and think of things that people don’t think of; solutions that seem like they would be impossible but for the right type of innovation and the right kind of leadership.”
Dean Allen, CEO / McKinstry and Board Member / Seattle Children’s Hospital
The aspirational vision of Tom and current CEO Jeff Sperring continues to be realized with the new 540,000 SF “Building Cure” just completed with a state-of-the-art GMP faculty able to manufacture cancer fighting cells for up to 1,000 kids a year. This brings the total SCRI downtown campus to over 1.1 million SF with close to another 1 million SF still available for future expansion.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
One doesn’t get this far without a healthy dose of opportunistic, crystal ball-like tendencies. It’s maddening to some, but invaluable to clients like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It took a candid conversation in the middle of a parking lot, support from Deputy Mayor Ceis, and some nudging people out of their comfort zone to
begin Kinzer’s multi-year journey of confidential negotiations. This culminated in convincing the Seattle Mayor, City Council (and the public) to sell 1/5 of the iconic Seattle Center. The opportunity/solution was putting the Center’s parking underground and up-zoning the unprecedented downtown 12-acre assemblage for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation HQ. Thus, a legacy property could remain as such but one with a renewed and larger public mission, contributing to the soul of Seattle.
“The job Kinzer performs and the results produced are phenomenal. Craig is simply the best at what he does.”
Julie Humling, Former Real Estate Director / the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Intellectual Ventures Laboratory
Intellectual Ventures (IV) required a discrete, but large standalone building to meet complex and unusual specifications for their 80,000 to 100,000 SF lab, housing sensitive inventions and experiments in numerous fields of science and technology. IV also wanted their “invisible” lab to be as close as possible to their current headquarters on I-90.
Kinzer discovered a 90,000 SF nondescript structure that looked like a bomb shelter, empty for years and once housing Almac Electronics, located in “plain sight” about a 10-minute walk from IV headquarters. Even though it was quite ugly, the building’s shell, core and skin were built completely of reinforced concrete, and in an off-market transaction was quietly controlled and redeveloped to meet all of IV’s criteria.
“Kinzer sees things that no one else does. Once Craig discloses the opportunity and explains his vision, it becomes the obvious solution, and everyone wonders why they had not seen it.”
Greg Gorder, Founding Partner / Intellectual Ventures
Confidentiality is sacrosanct with Kinzer. When it came to assisting Russell Investments with their HQ relocation, Craig didn’t even know who the client was for 18 months, as his contact was their trusted confidant Scott Redmond, CEO of Sellen Construction. Russell’s decision to either stay in Tacoma or move their HQ to Seattle was extremely controversial. The decision-making process included the tenure of three CEOs with the third CEO, Andrew Doman, closing the deal during the great recession.
Just as the first signs of the upcoming recession were coming into focus, Kinzer foresaw the probably takeover of WaMu by the FDIC. Thus just before the FDIC gave control of all assets to JP Morgan, including the transfer of WaMu Tower, Craig set up Russell’s parent company to acquire the high-rise in an off-market acquisition at 30 cents on the dollar. CEO Andrew Doman’s final decision to move was made certain by Craig also negotiating $50 million of incentives/tax credits from the City of Seattle that were secured simultaneously with the closing on what is now known as Russell Investments Tower.
“Kinzer led us through a complex process to help ensure that our headquarters decision was in line with our business vision; he always exceeded our expectations.”
Andrew Doman, Former CEO / Russell Investments
Tech firm F5 Networks loved its low-rise campus on Elliott Bay for which it had grown over the past two decades but was seeing its recruiting and retention challenged by the ever-increasing traffic to I-5. Moreover, as a global company, F5 was also using 10,000 or more room nights per year spread across a number of Seattle hotels. Kinzer partnered with F5 suggesting they think outside the box and consider the benefits of a high-rise location in Seattle’s downtown core. The result was a vertical HQ campus with a long-term lease of all 500,000 SF of office space in a new mixed-use development (renamed F5 Tower), with immediate access to I-5 and I-90, along with a 400-room hotel located on the lower floors of their new HQ building.
“Kinzer’s community-oriented approach to real estate was as critical to F5 as their market expertise. Their counsel helped F5 relocate its headquarters to an office that reflects the best of our employees, our business and our city of Seattle.”
François Locoh-Donou, President & CEO / F5
Kinzer believes that he often learns as much from his clients as he gives them in advice. One exceptional example of this belief comes from his many years representing NBBJ, one of the largest and most respected international architectural firms in the world.
“The way NBBJ and Kinzer have imparted real estate knowledge, trends and wisdom to each other over the decades is just phenomenal—a true partnership in every way.”
Steve McConnell, CEO and Managing Partner / NBBJ
Along this same line of learning from clients, Kinzer was recently taught a lesson from Alaska Airlines chairman and former CEO, Brad Tilden. In searching for a site to develop a hub for their headquarters campus with expansion to accommodate their growth, Craig leaned towards a site wrapped around the first Sound Transit station south of the airport, a little over 2 miles away. This seemed like a possible “perfect” location to consolidate Alaska’s few thousand employees in the SeaTac area.
But Brad knew best and asked Kinzer for a site not just with plenty of expansion, but also located as close as possible to the airport and Alaska’s training center. The reason (and lesson learned) is that the perfect location is one that best accommodates the over 20,000 employees (pilots, flight attendants and other upfront positions) visiting the headquarters and that touch the customer every day. Brad wanted to make a statement of how important these people, and other visiting employees, are to the success of Alaska Airlines.
Now with lesson in hand, Kinzer quietly assembled 7 acres, in off market transactions, directly across the street from the training center and SeaTac airport. This site was truly the perfect location for the new hub of Alaska Airlines headquarters campus and its future expansion.
“When I think of Kinzer, trust and value are the first things that come to mind. When circumstances unexpectedly change, they immediately recognize it and quickly pivot.”
Brad Tilden / Chairman and Former CEO of Alaska Airlines
Kinzer is currently finishing up a “white paper” concept that hopefully addresses the lack of affordable housing in the downtown core of our cities. This aspirational yet unproven concept explains how to create affordable housing of relatively large, well-appointed units in the downtown core, offered at 50% of market rent (approximately 60 to 80% AMI) in perpetuity, without any subsidies from government or nonprofit organizations, and delivered with all land, construction and financing at market rates.
“I have followed Kinzer’s career for decades; his creative genius combined with his dogged determination has resulted not just in aspirational visions, but the actual execution of legacy projects that can be seen throughout our community. I expect Craig’s move to CBRE will only enhance his future contributions to our skyline.”
Dow Constantine / King County Executive
Kinzer is also advising clients on a number of deals in Seattle, Bellevue, and cities across the county. This includes potentially one of the largest projects in Seattle and King County’s history…and certainly the largest in Craig’s noteworthy career. More to come from Kinzer at CBRE!
“I looked up what I said about Craig Kinzer in my old quote given to the Seattle Times, having known and worked with him for about 15 years at that time: ‘He’s probably one of the smartest people, if not the smartest person, I’ve ever worked with in Seattle… And I really hate to admit that.’
Well, it’s another 25 years later, and it’s still true, except now I’m happy to admit it. CBRE is lucky to get such an industry star.”
Kevin Daniels, CEO / Daniels Development
Admittedly, many notable projects or deals involving major tech firms, service firms and governmental entities are either in process, remain confidential, or are not appropriate for public disclosure, and thus are not listed (even though some of these deals may be found in the public domain). For a specific request about any of these projects not listed, please make the request as it may be possible to verbally discuss or disclose more information under NDA.