Commercial Observer's Top Young Professionals of 2020: Jamie DeNicola, Cignature Realty


In a former life, Jamie DeNicola helped bring Formula E — an all-electric car race — to Red Hook, Brooklyn, and worked on marketing for Cirque du Soleil, the U.S. Open and the Miami Dolphins.

Fresh out of St. Lawrence University, DeNicola worked for marketing firm CSM Sport & Entertainment. But his love of real estate — his father owned a construction company that worked on various projects, including ground-up developments — kept harkening to him.

“Seeing developments and kind of being surrounded by the best city for real estate in the world … made me switch over,” he said.

DeNicola landed a job at Cignature, where he’s been a member of its multifamily investment sales team for two years, focusing on the Upper East Side and Midtown East.

In the past year, DeNicola has written about $300 million in potential sales for Cignature — including an $80 million, 17-story building in Midtown — and worked with the firm’s president, Peter Vanderpool, on a $13.8 million sale of a five-building portfolio around Harlem. All told, DeNicola has written almost $600 million in potential sales during his time at Cignature.

While DeNicola always knew he would get into the real estate field, it was the chance to work with Vanderpool and develop his own territory that attracted him to Cignature.

“You really have the opportunity to put the onus on yourself and the work,” he said.

But, with the coronavirus pandemic and the tenant-friendly rent laws that New York legislators passed last year, the market has faced a huge shift since DeNicola started. He’s said he’s been proactive during this time, constantly staying in touch with clients and giving them advice on the market.

“It’s just being there for these landlords, just letting them know we’re here,” DeNicola said. “We’re happy to stay in touch with these landlords and these owners, and still feed them information on what’s going on in the market.”

DeNicola grew up in Hamden, Conn., where his great-grandfather, John DeNicola Sr., was elected the town’s first mayor in 1965. His great-grandfather’s work in community development sparked the family’s interest in real estate, and DeNicola’s father founded the Highwood Group, a general contractor where DeNicola interned during the summers growing up.

The recent East Village resident grew up playing sports — he started hockey when he was just two years old — and DeNicola said he’s still a sports fanatic. He also spends his spare time doing woodwork.

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