SEATTLE—Developer Frank Stagen, whose legacy includes the Starbucks Center headquarters and Union Station has died.

The Seattle Times says Stagen, who led projects in Seattle for more than 30 years, died Jan. 16. He was 78. Stagen, chief executive officer of real-estate investment firm Nitze-Stagen & Co., also provided the name for the SoDo neighborhood.

 “Frank was in many ways a transformational character for the city of Seattle,” said Peter Nitze, his business partner of more than 40 years, in an interview with the Seattle Times.

In 1990, under Stagen’s leadership, Nitze-Stagen bought a massive old building no one else wanted and converted it into a vibrant retail, office and industrial complex. Today it houses Starbucks’ global headquarters and bears the coffee giant’s name. But Mr. Stagen originally dubbed the complex the SoDo Center, deciding the gritty industrial area south of the Kingdome needed an identity and a name.

Nitze-Stagen’s sister company, Daniels Real Estate, now is building apartment towers on what was part of CenturyLink Field’s north parking lot, and plans to break ground this fall on a 660-foot downtown office and hotel tower.

Stagen grew up in Los Angeles, where his father ran a real-estate business, and he attended UCLA, earning degrees in economics and law. His first job after law school was as a part-time assistant to legendary New York developer Harry Helmsley.

He formed Nitze-Stagen with Nitze in New York in 1970. The firm invested in real estate in California, Pennsylvania and other markets before Stagen relocated to Seattle in late 1981.

Stagen lived downtown and enjoyed long walks around the city. “He found his place here,” said his long-time partner Tina Bueche.

Survivors, in addition to Bueche, include brother Tom Stagen, of Los Angeles; children Rand Stagen, of Dallas, and Corinne Torkelson, of Lake Bluff, IL; and four granddaughters.

A private celebration of his life will be held next month. The family suggests remembrances to the Frye Art Museum’s Children’s Education Access Fund, 701 Terry Ave., Seattle 98104.

Click Seatlle Times to read the complete obituatry.