Longtime Phoenix broker earns top award for excellence in commercial real estate from NAIOP

R. Craig Coppola

A commercial real estate broker who is a household name in metropolitan Phoenix received the top honor for his “significant and positive” impact to the industry at the annual awards ceremony of the Arizona Chapter of NAIOP, the voice of commercial real estate. 

R. Craig Coppola, the highest-producing broker in the 40-plus history of the largest broker-owned firm in the country, Lee & Associates, received the top honor, the Award of Excellence at the annual 2020 Best of Arizona NAIOP Awards ceremony at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

Coppola received one of 34 awards handed out at the event to recognize the most successful commercial real estate projects, companies and individuals in the prior year. 

Other longtime Arizona institutions also were winners at the event including Willmeng, which was named the General Contractor of the Year; Cushman & Wakefield, the Brokerage Firm of the Year; and Butler Design Group, Architect of the Year.

Winners helped state weather pandemic 

It was an incredibly rough year for the industry but developers remained “bullish on Arizona’s future,” said Suzanne Kinney, president and CEO of the Arizona chapter. 

The Collab
Suzanne Kinney

“Creative mixed-use projects like The Collab in Gilbert’s Heritage District, Helios Education Foundation’s new building in Central Phoenix, and the Grand2 in Tempe, a spec project that brought DoorDash to our market, are examples of award-winning projects that exhibit excitement for and commitment to Arizona’s future,” Kinney said.   

The industrial sector had an especially strong year, she said. 

“Our members worked at a break-neck pace to implement advanced logistics capabilities, increase warehousing capacity and build state-of-the art fulfillment centers to respond to the increased demand for e-commerce and the warehousing of essential goods. For example, two large Amazon facilities won awards: Amazon Final Mile Facility in the Chandler Airport Commerce Park and the Amazon GYR3 IXD.”

Gilbert Crossroads

Winning projects fed local economies 

Dozens of projects across the state also helped cushion the blow to the state economy during COVID-19 shutdowns and disruptions, Kinney said. 

For example, the Economic Impact Project of the Year award, the Novus Innovation Corridor – Phase III, generated a $277.8 million impact in 2020, she said. Located near Arizona State University, the public-private project is a mixed-use corridor for housing, retail, and space for leading-edge technology companies who have access to the university’s research and talent pipeline.  

Award of Excellence recognizes significant impact to industry 

Coppola received the top award, the Award of Excellence, which is given to individuals who have made a “significant and positive impact” on the commercial real estate industry in Arizona over at least 15 years, along with direct volunteer contributions to the chapter.

For more than 37 years as a founding principal of Lee & Associates Arizona, Coppola has specialized in the representation of landlords and tenants in the leasing and sale of office properties in the Valley. He has completed more than 3,800 transactions totaling more than 15 MSF valued in excess of $4 billion. 

The Arizona MBA grad is a 24-time top producer at Lee & Associates, six-time NAIOP Office Broker of the Year, and a 25-time finalist for NAIOP Office Broker of the Year. He also is the author of five books including, How to Win in Commercial Real Estate Investing and The Art of Commercial Real Estate Leasing. 

In his volunteer service, Coppola has served on the NAIOP board of directors; Arizona Chamber of Commerce board; St. Vincent de Paul Advisory Council; Banner Health Foundation; Xavier College Preparatory Board of Trustees; and more. 

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Craig,” said Danny Swancey of ViaWest Group, NAIOP Arizona board chairman. “His hallmark qualities of integrity, high-energy, discipline, and perseverance positively impact our organization and the entire commercial real estate community.  It’s a pleasure to honor someone who has consistently contributed on so many levels for over three decades.”

Best of NAIOP 2020 winners

Award of Excellence: R. Craig Coppola, Lee & Associates Arizona

Architect of the Year: Butler Design Group

Brokerage Firm of the Year: Cushman & Wakefield

Firm of the Year: Willmeng

General Contractor of the Year: Willmeng

Interior Architect of the Year: Phoenix Design One, Inc.

Owner/Developer of the Year: Lincoln Property Company

Tenant Improvement Contractor of the Year: Willmeng

NAIOP Arizona’s Official Branding Sponsor: TRADEMARK

Developing Leader of the Year: Michael Strittmatter, CBRE

Emerging Broker of the Year: James Cohn, CBRE

Healthcare Broker of the Year: Perry Gabuzzi, Margaret Lloyd, Bill Cook and Mike McWilliams, Plaza Companies

Industrial Broker of the Year: Tony Lydon, Marc Hertzberg, Riley Gilbert and John Lydon, JLL

Investment Broker of the Year: Will Strong, Cushman & Wakefield

Office Broker of the Year: Kevin Calihan and Bryan Taute, CBRE

Retail Broker of the Year: Dave Cheatham and Darren Pitts, Velocity Retail Group, LLC

Rookie Broker of the Year: Matt Baniszewski, Colliers International

Tenant Representative Broker of the Year: Pat Williams, JLL

Economic Impact Project of the Year: Novus Innovation Corridor – Phase III

Industrial Build-to-Suit Project of the Year: Amazon Final Mile Facility (DPX7)

Industrial Tenant Improvement Project of the Year: Amazon GYR3 IXD

Medical Office Project of the Year: Wexford PBC1

Mixed-Use Project of the Year: The Collab

Office Build-to-Suit Project of the Year: Helios Education Foundation Campus and Vince Roig Convening Center

Office TI Project of the Year (Less Than 60,000 SF): Carvana HQ3

Office TI (More Than 60,000 SF): DoorDash

Redevelopment Project of the Year: ADOT Flagstaff offices

Retail Project of the Year: Volvo Arrowhead Dealership and Site Development

Spec Industrial Project of the Year (Less Than 365,000 SF): Gilbert Crossroads

Spec Industrial Project of the Year (More Than 365,000 SF): Chandler Airport Commerce Park

Spec Office Project of the Year: Union Building 1

Sustainable Project of the Year: 777 Tower at Novus Innovation Corridor

Transaction of the Year: Grand2

Talk of the Town: 777 Tower at Novus Innovation Corridor and Grand2/DoorDash (tied)

To learn more about NAIOP, visit: Arizona NAIOP 

Victoria Harker

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