the 30 Rising Stars of Real Estate in 2022

Mike DiNapoli, 33

Mike DiNapoli, who is a manager of the World Trade Center, stands in front of a blurred background of trees in autumn wearing a blue suit jacket and white collared shirt.


Mike DiNapoli

DiNapoli thought he was going to be a certified public accountant, but the sedentary desk job didn’t agree with him. A property-management career was calling, even though that wasn’t something he’d considered initially. 

Through a family connection at the New York-based developer and property-management company Tishman Speyer, DiNapoli, a 2012 graduate of Loyola University, in Maryland, stumbled into a role of great responsibility and no number crunching: He was suddenly the new night-shift supervisor for the 70-person janitorial and maintenance crew at Rockefeller Center, one of Manhattan’s most famous pieces of real estate. 

“While I was in college, I never thought about how an office building got clean at night,” he said. 

The role was a natural fit. DiNapoli worked his way up to becoming the assistant property manager at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and 1250 Avenue of the Americas in about eight months, overseeing nearly 3 million square feet of commercial space. “I wore holes in my suit pants from all the running around I did,” he said. 

DiNapoli’s work may sound niche, but as watchers of the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony have seen, he’s keeping the cogs of Manhattan’s prime office spaces greased and running smoothly.

There are his daily responsibilities, and then there are the crises. As the property manager of CommonWealth Partner’s AXA Equitable Center in midtown Manhattan, DiNapoli found himself facing a big one in June 2019 as the building trembled: A helicopter had just made an emergency landing on the roof.

“I was on the 50th floor out of 54 stories talking to a tenant, felt the building shake, heard a boom, and ran up,” he said.

He saw the aircraft engulfed in flames and initiated a mandatory evacuation of the building’s over 6,000 occupants, who all remained safe. He acted quickly as the COVID-19 crisis hit, too, by installing hospital-grade air filters and reconfiguring the lobby to meet social-distancing protocol.

These days DiNapoli, 33, oversees the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s roughly 2 million square feet of property under and surrounding the World Trade Center site as a senior real-estate manager for the commercial real-estate-services firm CBRE.

“I like to be involved with things, going to the tops of roofs and looking over the edge 800 feet down, or trying to figure out exactly where we’re at in a budget,” he said. It’s kind of the best of both worlds for me. I like the investigative features, but I also like to get down and dirty.”

“But while I’m in a suit, I’m not getting dirty,” he added.