Procida Discusses New Focus on Distressed Properties

When William “Billy” Procida announced this week he was stepping down as chairman & CEO of the company he founded, Palisades Financial, he said it was time to go back to his roots fixing troubled projects. Procida said he sold his interest in the Fort Lee, N.J.-based real estate banking and advisory firm, but planned to continue to advise the remaining five principals and would still be one of the largest investors in the firm’s equity funds, Palisades Regional Investment Fund I and II. He has revived William Procida Inc., a workout and repositioning vehicle founded in 1995. Now Procida will have time to seek out new opportunities, including rescuing distressed properties and working on his golf game. Procida (pictured) discussed his plans with CPN:CPN: What made you decide to sell your interest at Palisades Financial to your partners now?Procida: I built the company to the point where my partners run it and run it well. You know you did a good job when the company outperforms its peers and you’re not needed there everyday … I’m going to continue to bring Palisades deals. We have an agreement and I’ll be an advisor and originator for them. I will also invest my own capital … I’m really a contractor. I like building buildings.CPN: How would you describe the current market conditions and why that made you realize you might be better off on your own at this time?Procida: In this market, there is no shortage of things to do if you’re a guy who knows how to build buildings, reposition buildings and arrange financing … I’ve been a contractor and developer. I’m one of the few guys who have also been a real estate broker, an investment banker and a fund manager … My first 15 years of my career was spent building and selling or leasing the properties that I built.  My first couple of deals goes back to when I was 19 and taking over busted jobs. I became a specialist at stepping into midstream jobs and getting banks their money back.CPN: Are there certain areas of the country you want to focus on?Procida: I’m going to stay in the East Coast. There’s enough to do here and I have a wife and kids … I’m already managing a 350-unit condo conversion in Fort Lauderdale that I took over for somebody.CPN: Do you expect to make investments or do you plan to play more of an advisory role when dealing with distressed properties?Procida: I’m pretty sure I will leap onto somebody else’s platform or do a reposition with a lender for (a project) going bankrupt. You may have five lenders foreclose … they don’t want to inherit or reposition any of them. The banks will bring in someone like me to negotiate with the developer … The reason most developers don’t like that is because most people the banks put in have never been a developer. So the reason I work well at this is because when I talk to a developer, he knows I know everything they know and when I talk to a banker, they know everything I know.