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How Kinzie Real Estate Group Found Success In Diversification

Chicago Other

Kinzie Real Estate Group has grown significantly since it was founded in 2011, from nine employees at its inception to 55 today. Kinzie found success and growth through branching out its interests. On its fifth anniversary, we talked with principal Steve Spinell about the firm’s explosive growth and where Kinzie is going.


Steve founded Kinzie following the real estate collapse with a mission of diversifying his real estate interests to protect himself and his partners in the event of another downturn. Kinzie now has interests in general contracting, including building collaboration and owners representation, as well as brokerage, property management, and real estate services for distressed assets.


Steve is especially happy with the volume Kinzie is doing with GC and design. This year, the firm has over $50M in construction activity and is starting another $100M in new projects. Those developments range from suburban multifamily developments in the 200- to 250-unit range; Verandah, a 125-unit age-restricted,master-planned housing community in Hanover Park (rendering shown); and a 99-unit senior housing community in Chicago's Belmont Cragin neighborhood.

Steve is more impressed by the growth of the GC and design-assist business because the workforce shrank during the recession and it became a challenge finding qualified vendors and subcontractors during Kinzie’s early stages of diversification. Kinzie works closely with architects, structural and mechanical engineers in the early stages of design and this has proven to generate competitive results for its clients. The discipline in communicating and coordinating with these professionals – along with trade vendors and suppliers – gives Kinzie the best opportunity to over-perform and create value for its clients.


Kinzie has been quick to embrace technology as another efficiency tool. Steve says these days, his teams mock designs and systems on computers and conduct material analysis to determine the best and most cost-efficient materials for its projects.

With the explosion in GC and building business, Kinzie is slowly moving away from development. Steve says the firm’s future is with its other concerns and working with other industries to serve reconstruction services, tenant build-outs and institutional investment. The work is split between its Vernon Hills and River North offices. Vernon Hills serves as Kinzie’s operational hub, and the River North HQ (a shared space with five other companies) houses its brokerage, marketing and development teams.


Kinzie’s brokerage team is growing, led by Andy Kiener, Christine Lutz and Steven Maher. The brokerage arm is focused on servicing distressed assets with private equity, and it has business in the works both here and with a 40-story condo tower in Minneapolis.

Steve says the people are the lifeblood of Kinzie Real Estate Group and, without the commitment and passion everyone brings to their job, this story would be much different.