Victor Siguora and Drew Popkin, the Naftali Group’s top acquisition executives, have left the company to form their own development firm. The new venture, called Highpoint Property Group, will play in the same wheelhouse as Naftali Group, focusing on ground-up condominium development and multifamily rental deals.
“We learned a lot from him,” said Siguora, referring to the Naftali Group’s founder and CEO Miki Naftali, whom he worked under since joining the Elad Group in 2005. “But it’s really that time in our career where we’re ready to control our own destiny.”
Highpoint has taken temporary office space in Midtown, Popkin said, and would spend the next few months setting up shop. “We’re going to be aggressive,” he said. “We had been hearing back from brokers on deals where pricing was getting a bit more attractive, and we think there are going to be tremendous opportunities in the next six to 18 months.”
While at the Naftali Group, the 39-year-old Siguora and the 30-year-old Popkin, who were chief investment officer and head of acquisitions respectively, worked with institutional investors such as Starwood Capital Group, the Carlyle Group, the Praedium Group and Pearlmark Real Estate Partners. Siguora said Highpoint would look to tap into those relationships, as well as ones they had with family offices both in the U.S. and abroad.
Highpoint is tossing its hat into the ring at a time when there’s not much action in there — Popkin acknowledged that it is “certainly a tough market.” Land deals in Manhattan have dried up considerably, and many investors are biding their time. At the Naftali Group, for one, acquisition activity has been at a standstill.
Indeed, Miki Naftali told The Real Deal that in the past 14 months, his firm made zero acquisitions. The deals weren’t making financial sense, he said, and he’s also mindful of slowing sales velocity in New York’s condo market. Instead, the developer has devoted his time to construction, marketing and sales of its existing product. The firm’s current projects include 210 West 77th Street, 221 West 77th Street and 275 West 10th Street.
“All those parts of the company are very busy,” he said. “The acquisition side has not been busy for a while.”
But Naftali was confident that opportunities would pop up in the coming months, including in the market for distressed assets. “We already see stress,” he said.
As for his proteges, Naftali said he has no hard feelings. Though he said he would eventually hire an acquisitions executive to replace them, “there is no rush because of the market.”
“I wish them both the best,” he added. “It was a very nice run together.”