Naftali files plans for UES building. Smart money’s on condos
It’s been seven years since Victor Sigoura ditched Miki Naftali for a chance to make it on his own.
After a rocky start, the former Naftali Group chief investment officer seems to have found his footing with Legion Investment Group’s first Manhattan project: a 19-story, Upper East Side condominium off Park Avenue with a projected sellout of $440 million.
The boutique building at 109 East 79th Street is down to its last few units after kicking off the new year with its priciest sale yet: a $30 million full-floor, five-bedroom penthouse. Mansion Global first reported the deal. A similar unit closed last week for $25.5 million.
With a penthouse asking $35 million in contract and only two units left on the market, Sigoura’s breakout project is poised for success.
Since sales launched in November 2020, the building has enjoyed a relatively smooth ride as the pandemic, rising interest rates and economic uncertainty rocked Manhattan’s luxury market. It’s a sharp contrast to Sigoura’s dispute-ridden exit from one of New York City’s top residential developers.
Sigoura left Naftali in June 2016 to start Highpoint Property Group with Naftali’s former head of acquisitions, Drew Popkin. Their departure wasn’t initially amicable: The two sued Miki Naftali, claiming he refused to pay Popkin and Sigoura their agreed-upon share of profits.
In the complaint, Sigoura alleged that he and Popkin had resigned because of disagreements about the “manner in which Naftali treated third-party investors” and that Naftali “effectively checked out of the real estate industry in general.”
Naftali then filed his own lawsuit against his former employees, arguing that Popkin and Sigoura stole confidential information and deleted it from the company’s servers.
Sigoura and Naftali ultimately withdrew their lawsuits against each other and settled on good terms. Sigoura even apologized to Naftali in a letter obtained by The Real Deal.
“Circumstances combined with wrong influences got to my head, and as a result I made some bad judgment calls,” Sigoura wrote in the letter. “This is not in character with my upbringing nor the way I wish to lead my life.”
Sigoura did not reply to a request for an interview.
Naftali told TRD at the time that the settlement did not involve him paying Sigoura any bonus or profit participation. “[Sigoura] just lost his direction, unfortunately, and hopefully, he has it back.”
With the legal dispute behind him, Sigoura split with Popkin to form Legion as his own company. Its first project was a 21-unit condo at 282 Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint. Residences ranging from studios to two-bedrooms hit the market in 2018.
At the same time, Sigoura began the assemblage for 109 East 79th Street. The developer bought three parcels for $62 million, which included funds from Gindi Capital, the investment arm of the Gindi family. He secured a $133 million construction loan from ACORE Capital in May 2020, three months into the pandemic.
Sigoura completed construction last year and move-ins began by December. Popular among Wall Streeters, the building has residents with ties to investment and financial companies such as Gilder Gagnon Howe, JPMorgan Chase, Pinnacle Capital Group and Aegis Capital.
Units in the limestone condo, designed by Steven Harris Architects, range from two to five bedrooms. The lobby, lounge and library overlook a private garden, and the fitness center features a squash court and yoga studio. Other amenities include a spa, sauna, hair salon, screening room and a golf simulator.
Corcoran’s Cathy Franklin heads on-site sales at the property.
Legion has more development plans in Manhattan. The firm is planning another condo in Gramercy Park after an affiliate bought four parcels around East 21st Street and Third Avenue and purchased the air rights above a nearby co-op at 38 Gramercy Park to build a cantilever.
In May 2022, the company purchased an 8-unit apartment building on East 84th Street, although it’s not clear whether the new owner plans to develop it.
Former Naftali exec Victor Sigoura plans 19-story condo at UES assemblage