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Bluegrass to Big Apple

A Conversation with Real Estate Mogul, Nick Campisano

 

Interview and photos provided by The VOICE TRIBUNE

 

VOICE Louisville sat down with local Real Estate Entrepreneur Nick Campisano. Nick is the Founder of the Development Firm “Campisano Capital” and the Investing Platform “Zyyo.”

Nick, we’ve been hearing your name for a while! It’s great to finally sit down with you. How would you describe yourself?

The pleasure is all mine.

I have always thought of myself as a “builder” at the intersection of construction, finance, and technology. I like to build companies, brands, properties, relationships, and experiences. My father is a General Contractor and he taught me the nuts and bolts of construction at an early age. My mother was a Human Resource Manager at General Electric for over thirty years and taught me how to build relationships. For eight years I built investment strategies as an investment banker. And my experiences in Venture Capital have taught me how to align new business models with untapped demand. I combine all of this with my passion for building designs and brands.

Photo by Andrea Hutchinson.

Please tell us a bit about your projects in Louisville?

From a development perspective, I am a generalist that focuses on community engagement and pressing the boundaries of design. My largest current project is a $123MM mixed-use development in NuLu and my smallest is a $400K coffee shop in Clifton. No matter the size, all of my developments have the same goal, which is to elevate communities through balance, quality and long-term civic integration. By paying attention to an entire community instead of focusing exclusively on any singular development, I can protect small businesses and simultaneously recruit large companies to join our market.

Most of my developments are in NuLu, however recently I developed a $20MM Residence Inn hotel in the East End. I like to pay attention to areas near new bridges, and when they added the new East End bridge connecting 265 to southern Indiana, I knew this area was poised for long term growth. I was born in Prospect, so that bridge has been on my mind for about a decade. Fortunately, that project was a huge success.

My NuLu projects range from Hancock to Shelby, and from Market to Jefferson. Over these two blocks, we are developing a total of nine projects, all of which are interrelated, hence my repeated reference to communities. I am being very careful to control balance, scale, and competition. For example, I want to ensure office space is available in the area, but not too much too quickly. To support the food & beverage options, we are developing a much needed 450-space garage. And hospitality is a key amenity for new entrants to the market, as long as there is a phased and balanced approach.

You might be familiar with the Gateway to NuLu office building, which was my first project in NuLu. The building was originally a furniture store dating back to the early 1900’s. It’s now a major technology hub housing a dozen different tech companies, as well as a daycare, the Everyday Kitchen Restaurant and Café, and some best-in-class co-working, meeting and event spaces. My Louisville office is also in that building. If you haven’t toured the building, you really should do it. It’s something special.

When the renowned Mr. Joe Ley decided to close his doors after fifty years, he chose us to be the development partner for the next generation of his historic masterpiece. Restorations have been underway for the past two years and we are working hard to preserve the stunning character of the building. When construction is complete, that area will showcase one of the nicest hotels in Kentucky.

I’m working on some other exciting projects, but I’m not at liberty to speak about them yet.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? How do you stay energized?

Well, I actually hate getting out of bed in the morning (laughs). But I hate going to bed, too. I was conditioned to be an early riser from a young age and the habit stuck. I grew up being a competitive diver and was dedicated to that sport through college, where I was on the team at Duke University. Most days started in a freezing cold pool at six o’clock in the morning five days-a-week, so I was always accustomed to the old “rise and grind” philosophy. In college, after my diving and academic obligations were satisfied, I also served as the Social Chair of my Fraternity, which means I rarely missed a party and was never the first to leave. My social calendar has definitely settled down nowadays, but one way to describe me would be that I rarely miss a workout, never miss a meeting, and hate to miss a party.

I am enthusiastic about seizing the day. When I’m in the shower each morning, I get excited for my upcoming meetings and the progress we hope to create. I feel fortunate for all these opportunities and couldn’t be more grateful. Although my work can be stressful and has its challenges, I’m truly having a lot of fun. I have an amazing team and their talent resonates in everything we do.

Photo by Andrea Hutchinson.

How long have you lived in New York City? And what does Louisville have to gain from your relationships there?

I have lived in NYC for the past 11 years, and ever since I graduated from college, it has been home. My developments rely on large institutional capital providers to stimulate growth. My investment firm is headquartered there and we find it patriotic to show up to work each day at our offices in the World Trade Center, participating in all the action. Seventy percent of my investors are based in New York City, and those relationships are just getting started.

My thought process has always been to gain relevancy in a particular industry and then use that resource to create a positive impact. I was always impressed with the investment opportunities in Louisville, but in order to truly make a difference in the community, I realized I would need access to a larger collection of financial investment groups, such as Blackstone and Goldman Sachs. I believe local projects are often under-funded which leads to a sub-optimal final product. In those unfortunate scenarios, the larger investment groups aren’t interested, specifically because the developments underestimated the intended quality of the final product.

I never wanted to be a big fish in a small pond, I just wanted to help build a bigger pond.

I understand that your technology company, Zyyo, is the tool that brings all this together. How exactly does it work?

Zyyo is an online technology used to finance real estate projects within certain communities, like NuLu! Specifically, it takes a data-driven approach to funnel large investors to local communities, and allows local investors from those communities to participate alongside. Most importantly, the local investors feel comfortable with the safety of their investment, since the deals are structured alongside much larger groups that sort out the due diligence and legal work. And the larger investors enjoy the local support, knowing that if they can integrate into the local economy alongside the natives, it maximizes their chance of success.