I am a real estate strategist specializing in urban and economic revitalization. I have decades of experience advising cities, universities, and other institutions and investors on how to use their real estate to achieve their most important goals. I have particular expertise in town centers, innovation districts, and next-generation work districts.

How I Work

Bold Ideas, Remarkable Results.

I’m an MBA, not a planner, and I think in terms of business.  I create strategy to draw talent and investment. My clients are organizational leaders who not only need but want change.  I have worked with the president of UC Davis, the founder of Whistler Mountain, the owner of the Sacramento Kings, and the late Paul Allen.

Unlike some economists who use statistics to get answers, I have hands-on experience making real estate work, including the turnaround of large development projects.  I know how to talk to companies about their needs, and I connect the dots with bold ideas that anticipate where the market is going, not where it’s been.

My strategy has transformed old factories, tired main streets, and failing malls, bringing new ventures to places that others had given up on. While other firms brag about the number of studies they’ve done, I have produced more than a billion of results on the ground.

Success Stories

My strategy works for three reasons:  I take time to understand my client’s organizational priorities; 2) I look deep into the market and position property competitively; and 3) I connect clients to the right developers and users.  Here are three examples where I have helped revitalize places and specific properties:

San Leandro, California

Breathing New Life Into An Industrial City

Once a thriving Bay Area industrial center, San Leandro had fallen into a slump, losing companies left and right. What disheartened civic leaders failed to grasp was that the city—even in its darkest days—still possessed the seeds of greatness. I knocked on doors and made discoveries. When I showed the City Council logos of 50 innovative local companies operating under the radar, a collective “We’ve still got it!” jolt of energy ran through the room. City staff used my slogan and strategy, “We Make Things” to fill more than 300,000 square feet in an old Dodge plant and Kellogg cereal factory—with companies brewing beer and designing high-tech products. Today, San Leandro is stealing life science startups from Berkeley.

‘We Make Things’ is the strategy and slogan that inspired a rebirth of innovation and investment in our community. And it flowed directly from Rod’s expert guidance and deep understanding of our needs and challenges.

Deborah Acosta, retired San Leandro Chief Innovation Officer
Kenmore, Washington

A New “Town Green”

Newly incorporated Kenmore had been struggling for more than a decade to create an identifiable town center and welcoming place for residents to gather. After talking with dozens of brokers, developers, and residents, I collaborated with City Manager Rob Karlinsey to reimagine an old shopping center site. We took the project to market, drew 12 enthusiastic bidders, and within five years developers had completed $100 million in new apartments, offices, and medical and restaurant space. Meantime the city used sale proceeds to build a park and indoor winter garden with a coffee shop, fireplace, and meeting rooms that draws residents year-round.

The buzz around here is that we need another fix of Rod Stevens’s talent and expertise. It’s true. Rod helped energize our community and we’re looking forward to much more collaboration ahead.

Robert Karlinsey, Kenmore City Manager
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Industry Climbs the Hill

For 60 years, this college town in the Research Triangle sat by quietly while the jobs grew up elsewhere. I worked with leaders from town and gown on a strategy to bring the “skunkworks” of major companies downtown and within easy walking distance of UNC. The University’s tech incubator now anchors a newly-renovated office tower, the Town of Chapel Hill will soon finish a $50 million parking garage, and developers backed by international investors are seeking to build 300,000 square feet of lab space.

Rod created a realistic business plan that clearly shows what we need to do in 6 months, 12 months, and so on to keep our momentum going. He’s got a genuine knack for diagnosing problems and proposing smart, workable solutions.

Dwight Bassett, Director of Economic Development, Chapel Hill
Let’s Connect

Working Together

Development can be complex and confusing, and a talented, hardworking guide can make all the difference. For nearly 40 years, I have worked with private investors and board room-level decision makers on the strategic use of their real estate. I know how to lead clients through both decision-making and execution. You probably have a lot more options for your property than you realize. Call today to discuss your goals and effective ways of moving forward.