Unico CEO Kuhrau cites Covey’s unselfish leadership and patriotism, and substantial impact on Unico’s legacy
“The Unico family is very sad to lose Don Covey, but very appreciative of the substantial impact he had on the company’s legacy and growth over his long tenure. We share others’ observations about his unselfish leadership at our company. We also admire his patriotism as he was behind the installation of the enormous American flag that flies above Two Union Square. Our best wishes are with Don’s family as they mourn his passing,” said Unico CEO and Chairman Quentin Kuhrau in a statement to the media.
Covey was the former President and CEO of Unico Properties, Inc. He began with Unico in 1955 and worked his way up, eventually becoming President in 1975, CEO in 1990 and Chairman in 1992. Covey retired from Unico in 1994. Covey began with Unico nearly at the start of the company and was involved in the development and management of the Metropolitan Tract.
He also moved the company beyond the Tract with the development of One and Two Union Square, arguably two of the most beautiful office buildings in downtown Seattle. His leadership, integrity, and breadth of experience with the Tract and Seattle’s commercial real estate market made Unico a contending force in Seattle and a leader of the community.
Covey was very active in the betterment of Seattle’s communities. He was a member of the board and a past chairman of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Seattle Association. He was also a past member of the board of the Municipal League and past president of the University of Washington Alumni Association. In addition, Covey volunteered his time as a member of the board and past chairman of the Seattle Alliance for Education, Nellie Goodhue Group Homes and the 5th Avenue Theatre Association, which he was involved with creating. He also served as a part member of the board of United Way and Red Cross.
In 1978, the ornate 5th Avenue Theatre, which had first been used for vaudeville and later for moving pictures, shut its doors and appeared waiting for the demolition ball. A strong public sentiment supported its preservation, echoed by Unico when Covey was president. Studying possible uses for the theater, Unico recommended that the 5th Avenue Theatre be restored and modified to a premier Northwest center of the performing arts. To save the theater, Unico led a coalition of 42 other businesses to create the nonprofit 5th Avenue Theatre Association and underwriting a $2.6 million loan for its physical restoration. Unico provided construction management at no charge and would forego for 10 years the rentals it might have received, all such income going to the University of Washington. The entire renovation was completed without local, state, or federal funds, setting a precedent for theaters across the country. On July 30, 1980, fully renovated and re-equipped, the 5th Avenue Theatre re-opened its doors with a 10-week run of Unico founder Roger L. Stevens‘s production of the musical hit, Annie.
Covey told the Seattle Times in 1995, “We had three goals at the time. One was restoring the 5th Avenue. The second was to bring musicals to Seattle, because the only place that could handle them then was the Opera House, and that was only for a few nights rather than a two-week run. The third was to generate funds we could put back into our community, to encourage young people who wanted to have careers in the arts.”