You might call veteran property manager Linda Kaboth a RISE-ing star.
But that’s not quite right. She already is a rock star property manager. Kaboth, who among other things played a key and pivotal role in selling Belmar for almost $300 million in 2015, is now a vital executive at RISE Commercial Property Services, formerly known as Inverness Properties.
But play on words aside, Kaboth was a star before joining RISE in June 2016.
“Linda is our All-Star VP who does all things in our office,” crowed T.J. Tarbell, president of RISE.
“She adds value and contributes to every factet of our business,” he continued.
Kaboth thrived in male-dominated field
Kaboth has a long and established career in a field that historically was dominated by at the C-Suite level.
“She’s a 30-year veteran with a history with some of Denver’s most well-known properties – Belmar, Republic Plaza and others,” Tarbell said.
“Since joining RISE, she has been instrumental in our growth as a company and is an amazing person with a great story,” he added.
RISE currently provides property management and/or building engineering services to about 5 million square feet of office and retail along the Front Range and Colorado Springs. That ranks RISE No. 10 in the Denver area.
Kaboth’s goal over the next few years is to make RISE No. 1 in local property management companies.
Kaboth armed with sociology degree
Kaboth grew up primarily in Littleton and graduated from Littleton High School in 1973.
She then received a degree in sociology from the University of Colorado.
“At that time, choices were starting to open up for women,” Kaboth said.
“I thought I would get a law degree. Thank God I didn’t,” the straight-talking Kaboth said.
After her undergraduate degree, she decided she wanted a master’s degree in public administration to prepare her for a career in government.
She contacted professor Gordon Von Stroh at the University of Denver.
She approached Von Stroh “with no money” and no connections and told him she would rather go to DU than the University of Colorado, but didn’t have the resources to pay for her degree.
Von Stroh, who died in 2012, told her a grant had just crossed her desk and offered it to her.
The meeting with Von Stroh was perhaps her first cold call.
Teaches from experience
“When I taught (commercial real estate) at CU and now at DU, sometimes just walking in the door can be really scary, but it can pay off big time. I was shaking when I went to see Gordon, but I couldn’t have gotten to know a fabulous guy if I hadn’t gotten up my nerve to talk to him.”
She went to work as a budget analyst at Arapahoe County.
And although she is a Libertarian who read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” when she was 12 or 14 and quotes Rand on her RISE homepage – “Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision” – Kaboth thinks government bureaucracy provides a valuable service and is too easily criticized by many. However, she found she was too entrepreneurial for a life of government work.
She left the county to join United Bank, “where I had six or seven fabulous years in commercial lending.”
Kaboth had a good friend in human resources at the bank who asked her to tag along on recruiting missions to college campuses “because I liked to talk.”
On one point, her friend told her that, as a favor, she was helping another company find someone to manage commercial office buildings.
Stumbles into property management
She said Kaboth should keep her eyes open for someone with the specific skill sets to manage buildings.
Kaboth knew nothing about property management but realized she was an ideal candidate.
In 1986, she joined LaSalle Partners, now known as Jones Lang LaSalle, or JLL.
She initially managed what is now Independence Plaza in downtown Denver. It was a big assignment t to cut her property management teeth on.
“If you think rents were averaging about $20 per sf, it was bringing in about $10 million a year in revenues, with maybe $3 million or $4 million of expenses,” Kaboth said.
Her building is her city
At the time, her youngest son, who is now 25, used to beg her to take him downtown “to go see your city.”
Indeed, running Independence Plaza was like running a city.
“A lot of people turn up their noses to property management, but it is a fabulous career,” Kaboth said.
As a property manager, you need to keep tenants happy and add value to the owner.
You must understand metrics like cap rates, internal rates of return, deal with engineers, maintenance crews and make sure you have the best brokers in place, she noted. In downtown Denver, it was crucial to even understand arcane things, like how Xcel’s underground chiller system works.
And every day is different.
Cool gig: Super Bowl celebration
When the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1998, she was in charge of “putting this big screen on the 16thStreet Mall,” in front of Independence Plaza.
“How much fun was that?” she asked rhetorically.
“We had 40,000 people in front of our building.”
Kaboth calls things as she sees them.
“I’m very well known in the commercial real estate field and a bit infamous for saying what I’m thinking,” she said. “Everyone knows where I stand.”
Working with Sturm
She later worked with Donald Sturm in Cherry Creek North as an asset manager, a step up on the property management hierarchy.
“Property management was under me,” she said.
“While property management is for the day-to-day management, an asset manager is more involved in strategies and implementing value-add strategies,” Kaboth explained.
“Don is super smart and a great man to work for,” she said.
Sturm already had told Joyce Foster that she had to move her storied Tattered Cover from Cherry Creek North when she arrived.
With Sturm, she became involved in the urban planning issue of opening Fillmore Plaza to traffic, not a popular move with everyone.
“Don used to joke that if he wanted to have a private meeting he would take them to Fillmore Plaza because there was never anyone there.”
Kaboth was recruited by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and joined its GF Properties Group in 2007.
Among its assets was Belmar.
GF Properties bought a minority share of Belmar from its developer and owner, Continuum Properties, in 2006.
By the time of the sale, GF Properties was the majority owner and Continuum held a minority stake.
“I was the lead,” when it came time to sell Belmar, she said. She worked closely with the CBRE team of Mike Winn, Tim Richey and Brad Lyons to market Belmar. They brokered the sale to Starwood Capital Group.
“We ended up getting three or four offers,” Kaboth recalled. “But when you get at a number around $300 million, there are only a few players who can do the deal.”
While working for the Southern Ute tribe, she would frequently make the commute from her home in Boulder to the tribe’s headquarters in Durango.
She would crank up the rock ‘n’roll and put the pedal to the metal on her red BMW 3 series car – with the speeding tickets to prove it.
“I loved the drive,” Kaboth said. “It was a reverse commute, so there was no traffic.”
After the Belmar sale, the tribe was not in the acquisition mode and so Kaboth moved on.
On the RISE
She found a perfect home at RISE, as she wanted to be part of a growing company that’s interested in challenging the status quo.
“I get excited when I hear people in our industry say, “We’ve never done that before,” or, “I don’t think that can work.” That tells me the ideas and concepts we’re pursuing are on the right track,” Kaboth said.
At RISE, they’ve embraced a property management approach “based on simple economics – supply a product that is in demand. We prioritize things like tenant relations, return on cost and extensive education/training for our managers. We’ve noticed a significant gap between what tenants want and what landlords (and their management companies) are providing.”
Kaboth, as always, is thinking big.
“We intend to change that, and in the process change the world of commercial office real estate,” Kaboth said.