Mentoring concept

Developing Leaders Spotlight: Championing Future Leaders

When he first joined NAIOP, Nicholas Kitaeff, a recipient of the 2022 Developing Leaders Award, was eager to connect with and learn from fellow professionals in commercial real estate. He found NAIOP membership to be a “transformational milestone” in his career advancement and soon discovered ways that he could invest his time and expertise to build up other young leaders in the industry. While his colleagues note his remarkable passion, strong leadership and deep commitment to successful real estate development, his contributions to the NAIOP Colorado mentoring program stand out as exceptional achievements.

Nicholas Kitaeff

As a member of NAIOP Colorado, Kitaeff serves on the executive committee board and is chair of the Developing Leaders committee. Having seen firsthand the value of the mentoring program in 2015, he became a committee member the following year and took on the role of co-chair in 2019. He significantly grew the program from 12 applicants and 9 pairings in 2015 to 37 applicants and 20 pairings in 2022. His colleagues credit him with developing and executing a thoughtful, strategic vision for the program that connects Developing Leaders and nurtures future talent.

Kitaeff leads the mixed-use and multifamily development platforms in his role as senior development director at Confluent Development in Denver. He has developed projects in 12 states totaling over one million square feet with a total value of more than $320 million, including a $27 million redevelopment project in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He excels at executing complex urban mixed-use development projects in the Denver market that have a meaningful impact in their communities. Kitaeff is currently leading one of Confluent’s most notable local projects: Exchange at Boulevard One in the Lowry neighborhood in east Denver, a 175,000-square-foot mixed-use development featuring retail, restaurants and offices.

He was recognized by the Denver Business Journal with their 40-Under-40 Award in 2022, and received the NAIOP Colorado Retail Development of the Year Award for the Exchange at Boulevard One development in 2022.

NAIOP asked this dedicated visionary about his experience as a NAIOP member and how he pays it forward to future generations.

NAIOP: What motivated you to get involved in commercial real estate?

Kitaeff: A driving factor behind my involvement in commercial real estate development stems from my interest in developing strong, strategic relationships with partners on a regional and national scale, as well as local community members and associations, to ensure I remain committed to sustaining and improving the areas in which we live, work and play. In my day-to-day work or when mapping long-term visions for Denver’s neighborhoods, partnerships and community members always come first, and I’m proud to play a role in creating experiences that contribute to the betterment of Denver’s communities through providing intelligent buildings for businesses to thrive.

NAIOP: What are some ways that NAIOP membership has benefited your career?

Kitaeff: Through my involvement with NAIOP and the Developing Leaders committee, I’ve discovered opportunities for my deeper involvement in the organization and a pathway that outlines how I can invest my time and expertise in younger generations. I have also been involved in NAIOP Colorado’s mentorship program since 2015. Through sharing my own mentee experience, I have learned how to be a better teammate, coach and mentor. My experience in the program challenged me to chart a course for my career, hold myself accountable to personal and professional growth and helped me gain a foothold as a leader within my company.

NAIOP: What is your advice for Developing Leaders early in their careers?

Kitaeff: I strongly encourage aspiring Developing Leaders to promote and develop the careers of fellow young professionals through intentional networking and mentoring programs that educate and enhance their trajectories. Becoming a member of an association, nonprofit or a networking group is a good place to start, but what makes a real impact are genuine connections and providing a 360-degree ecosystem of impactful and sustainable mentorship for young professionals who need guidance in navigating their path and achieving their goals.

NAIOP: How do you describe what you do for a living to family and friends?

Kitaeff: For more than 11 years, I’ve led ground-up development and investments of retail, mixed-use and multifamily projects to match client needs with real estate across the country. As a commercial real estate developer, I work with various stakeholders in the community to build projects that begin as visions and sketches into physical spaces that community members can be proud of.

Read more about the 2022 Developing Leader Award winners in Development magazine. Applications for the 2023 Developing Leaders Award are open through June 30 – apply today!

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Marie Ruff

Marie Ruff is Director of Marketing and Communications at NAIOP.

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