This letter, written for stakeholders by our Co-Founder, Frank Stagen, before his passing in 2013, is a brief history of our firm.
Experience and Knowledge
Nitze-Stagen is a private investment firm offering unique expertise in the areas of commercial office, industrial, retail properties, and adaptive reuse. For over four decades, commercial real estate investors have looked to Nitze-Stagen for its proven experience and knowledge in these markets. However, it is in the less tangible areas of insight and foresight where Nitze-Stagen has truly excelled. Since Peter and I founded it in 1970, the company has shown a remarkable ability for seeing potential where others saw hurdles, and for turning that potential into financial success.
A Signature Combination of Vision and Pragmatism
Nitze-Stagen approaches real estate opportunities with a developer’s imagination and an investor’s prudence. In addition to investing in and managing real estate, Nitze-Stagen and its related entities manage venture investments (Nitze-Stagen Capital Partners) and develop commercial and mixed-use residential real estate. We bring a high level of due diligence to the investment process, while applying our property management and investment experience, thereby moderating risk while providing rewarding opportunities.
Peter’s and my global experience with commercial real estate dates back to the early 1960s, years before the formation of Nitze-Stagen in 1970. We worked with successful firms worldwide, including White Weld & Company, Shearman & Sterling, National General Corporation, and Helmsley-Spear, Inc. We also provided development and financial consulting to a number of international companies, including Acme Cleveland, Societé des Bains de Mer, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, D.K. Ludwig, Dresser Industries, International Paper Company, Union Pacific Railroad and Eastman Kodak. Our professional relationships with commercial bankers, government agencies, merchant builders, and developers are long-standing.
The Nitze-Stagen approach is characterized by recognizing that real estate investment can, and should, be a catalyst for improving communities. We make an equal commitment to our investors, to our tenants, and to the communities in which we build. And we believe that if we work together with these parties, no real estate project is too ambitious or too difficult to achieve.
When Nitze-Stagen starts any project, we first include all stakeholders in shaping a concept that will address the diverse interests of all participants. As a result, everyone benefits, and our developments return dividends on many levels long after the project is complete.
Success on Many Scales
Seattle’s Starbucks Center is a prime example of the Nitze-Stagen vision in action. At over 2 million square feet, the former Sears northwest catalog distribution center is the largest building in Seattle, and one of the oldest in the city. Prior to our involvement, most developers and city officials viewed it as a “white elephant” stuck in the midst of Seattle’s languishing industrial district. We saw it as premier storage, distribution, and office facility, situated at the nexus of rail, trucking, and shipping lines adjacent to the Seattle central business district. What’s more, we were sure we’d found a building that could anchor a neighborhood and serve as a catalyst for a broader revitalization of the area.
Nitze-Stagen purchased the building in 1990 at an exceptionally cost-effective price, maintaining its original purpose as a storage and distribution center, as well as a location for retail and corporate office space. We joked at the time that we were able to purchase the property for less per square foot than it would have cost to re-carpet it. We also spearheaded the development of a neighborhood association to encourage dialogue and action aimed at generating interest and development activity in the surrounding area.
The result is Seattle real estate history: a landmark project that has not only provided solid financial returns, but has also become the centerpiece for the redevelopment of a neighborhood that the mayor of Seattle dubbed the city’s new “economic powerhouse.” While not all of our real estate projects have been on as large a scale as Starbucks Center, our approach, and the results, have consistently met or exceeded expectations. We firmly believe we can have a better view of the future through the perspective of a successful history.
Thank you for your interest in Nitze-Stagen.