40 Under 40 winner: Nick Kitaeff

As seen at the Denver Business Journal

Nick Kitaeff

Age: 33

Title: Senior development director

Company: Confluent Development

Alma mater: University of Denver — Daniels College of Business

Neighborhood: Uptown

Hometown: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Nick Kitaeff was one of the first team members to join Confluent and lead its ground-up retail development platform. Barely a decade later, he’s led and managed more than $230 million in projects. The big one he’s focused on now is The Exchange at Boulevard One, which landed Target as an anchor and is about to welcome mountain grocer Clark’s Market.

Kitaeff and his team partnered with 17 businesses and eight artists who contributed community-based art to the development. He also was named chair of the NAIOP Colorado Developing Leaders chapter.

Secret talent: Ranch skiing. Rather than ski downhill or power your cross-country skiing with your legs and arms, just grab a two rope and ski behind an ATV in the winter.

Not-so-secret talent: Stealing my friends’ jokes and saying them louder — spreading the humor!

Denver’s best-kept secret: Pizzeria Lui

Denver’s secret talent: Harvard Gulch Golf Course’s par-3 golf course — a portable speaker, cooler of beers and no shoes with good friends.

2021 hashtag: #enhancecommunity

2022 hashtag: #setitoff

Big 2021 move: In 2021, our team continued to make major strides on our most notable mixed-use project in Denver, The Exchange at Boulevard One. On the heels of introducing a small-format Target store as our new anchor tenant, we were proud to welcome a co-anchor tenant, local Colorado mountain grocer Clark’s Market, to provide our community with a well-rounded shopping experience. As this project had undergone intervals of ebbs and flows throughout the duration of the pandemic, it continued to show meaningful momentum despite these challenges, and we remained steadfast in working with our partners and community members to ensure this project evolves into a vibrant destination for all.

Our biggest move for this project to-date was opening the doors of Target in October 2021. For 20 months, our team remained focused and diligent, working through a rapidly changing marketplace to make sure Target was completed on time. This new store will not only provide opportunities for employment in Lowry, but a convenient shopping experience tailored specifically to the needs of our local neighbors, friends, and families.

Next big move: As we look ahead into 2022, we look forward to seeing Exchange at Boulevard One light up with life and activity as more of our tenants have grand openings. Additionally, breaking ground on our first ground-up apartment project in the Platte Park neighborhood, the Carraway, will bring 42 apartment homes to this amazing neighborhood in a boutique-style building.

On rotation: I use podcasts to take my mind off work, so they’re all sports: “Blood Red,” “Men In Blazers,” “Pardon my Take” and “Man in the Arena.” When I need to relax my go-to artists are Bob Marley, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks, Chris Stapleton and when I need energy it’s Avicii, Kygo, and Vize and I can never resist my Hip-Hop childhood favorites.

Community focus: I have become motivated to enhance our city’s surrounding communities. As part of this overarching goal, I am a strong supporter of finding opportunities that build up younger generations of leaders in the Denver real estate community. Through my involvement with the NAIOP Colorado Developing Leaders, I’ve discovered a pathway for me to invest my time and expertise in younger generations. I have also been involved in NAIOP Colorado’s mentor/mentee program for the last six years to share my own mentee experience and transform this into how I can become a better mentor.

More recently, in 2022, I have worked to support the families that were impacted by the Marshall Fire in Boulder and utilized the platform at NAIOP Colorado to catalyze our real estate community to assemble our collective resources and fundraise for the recovery effort by partnering with the Boulder County Wildfire Relief fund.

Advice for future 40 Under 40s: The strongest tool in a young professional’s toolkit is the desire to encourage, empower and build the younger generations that follow them. I strongly encourage aspiring 40 Under 40s 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 or a network can make an impact, 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. For a starting point, I suggest identifying and joining boards that encourage professional and personal growth, particularly programs such as the Downtown Denver Leadership Program or NAIOP Colorado Developing Leaders — both will help you connect with fellow professionals in the community and provide greater purpose for yourself.

Understand the boundaries that need to be in place for you to do this as your authentic self. Be patient and kind with the fact that you will make mistakes; this is more important to success than getting something right. If you can focus on and enjoy the process (and not the outcome) then you can break through to the next level in life, business and relationships. Also, surround yourself with good people that you align with — this is the tribe that will support you in that process. It’s challenging to find the balance between action and rest — especially for women. Know and honor when you need to take a step back and take care of yourself and that you have to show up for yourself before you show up to the world.

Jonathan Rose
Associate Editor
Denver Business Journal