Established in 2022, NewQuest Properties is broadening its development capabilities by launching a multifamily residential division.
John Leonard, an industry veteran with three decades of experience in the property sector, will assemble and lead the new division for NewQuest. NewQuest owns and manages more than 12 million SF of mixed-use and neighborhood essential centers, many of which have excess land and redevelopment opportunities that will serve as the focus for the newly created multifamily division.
A real estate professional with over 30 years of commercial real estate and multifamily development and investment experience, John Leonard is one of the founding partners of NewQuest Residential, the new multifamily residential development arm of NewQuest Properties, a long standing privately held, multi‐ billion dollar commercial real estate development, investment, and brokerage company based in Houston Texas.
Prior to NewQuest Residential, John served as the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and a Board Member of Sueba USA Corporation, a legacy Houston-based multifamily, commercial, retail, and single family real estate development company. In his many roles, John and his team led all Sueba’s financial, accounting, and legal activities required in the negotiation, structuring, and closing of complex real estate capital, financial, sales, development, and acquisition transactions. Such transactions have included debt and equity capitalizations, land and investment acquisitions, and dispositions totaling more than $3 billion in value in recent years. John had oversight and involvement in many of Sueba’s operational and production areas such as accounting, legal, tax, property management, human resources, IT and various project development, entitlement, and construction activities. Separate, single purpose affiliate companies were negotiated, formed, and capitalized together with third party lenders and equity partners under John’s oversight. Such entities, comprised of all different capital structures, carried out the real estate development and investment activities of Sueba. Also, within these entities John served as a general partner/managing member, as well as personally invested in several real estate joint ventures with Sueba and other developers and investors.
Prior to joining Sueba, John served as Vice President for First City Asset Servicing Company in Houston, responsible for the management and liquidation of the multi‐billion dollar real estate portfolio of Collecting Bank, N.A. John began his career in the Houston office of global CPA and professional consulting firm KPMG‐Peat Marwick, where he was responsible for providing auditing and financial consulting services to major clients, primarily in the banking, real estate, and financial services industries.
Graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. in Business and a major in Accounting, John is a Texas licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Real Estate Broker licensed in Texas (LREB). John is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC), the National Association of Real Estate Companies (NAREC), the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TXCPA), the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and has served on the Board of the Katy Area Economic Development Council (KEDC), the Fort Bend Economic Development Council (FBEDC), and SEARCH Homeless Services in Houston.
Gary Harnist brings three decades of experience in construction and design management to his new position with NewQuest Properties. Gary was previously Vice President of Construction & Design at Benchmark Hospitality of The Woodlands, overseeing and working hand in hand with Owners/Developers in developing new hotels, resorts, and for sale condos. Prior to that, he was the Senior Vice President of Construction and Design for Gatehouse Capital of Dallas, overseeing mixed-use high-rise luxury hospitality, residential and retail projects.
Gary has held several executive management positions in various companies including Chicago-based General Growth Properties and Remington Hotels and has owned his own Construction Management consulting firm. He has been a senior executive in several hospitality and mixed-use developments in Hollywood, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas, and on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, with each project’s value ranging from $100 million to $1.5 billion.
He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture.
Steve Ritchey has been involved in finance and commercial banking for more than 48 years, primarily providing debt, treasury management, investment banking, and commercial banking products and services to the commercial real estate industry, including both developers and investors. During the span of his career, Steve has worked for several of the nation’s leading commercial real estate lenders, including 24 years as the Senior Commercial Real Estate lender for Bank of America’s Houston regional office. In this position, Steve facilitated financing for numerous national commercial real estate developers and investors for several landmark projects throughout the United States.
Following his career at Bank of America, Steve worked as a consultant to several Houston area companies assisting with identifying capital sources for both the construction and acquisition of commercial real estate before joining NewQuest Residential in 2022.
Doug Bergen, a founding Partner of NewQuest Residential, has over 30 years of professional business experience including 15 years of commercial real estate and multifamily development experience.
Prior to joining NewQuest Residential, Doug was Senior Vice President of Investments and Vice President of Sueba USA Corporation. In his role at Sueba, Doug primarily focused on land acquisitions, dispositions, new business development, joint venture partnerships, equity placement and project capitalization and overall investor relations activity. Doug was successful in placing over $200M of equity capital to fund approximately 15 new multi-family development project starts over the past 10 years. In addition, Doug led the equity recapitalization in the amount of approximately $45M of a 3 property multi-family portfolio that was sold for over $160M in 2021. Doug has personally participated in and invested in a number of Sueba land holdings and multi-family developments along with outside real estate investments both as a General Partner and Limited Partner.
Prior to his employment at Sueba, Doug worked for KPMG and Deloitte and began his professional career working for Deutsche Bank in New York City. He was selected to participate in Deutche Bank’s global management training program where he gained exposure to various financial sectors of the bank, including structured finance, trading, corporate finance, treasury, and asset management.
Doug is a graduate of Baylor University with a B.B.A. in Finance.
Peter Kokernot brings nearly a decade of experience in the multifamily industry with a focus on identifying acquisition, development, and disposition opportunities throughout each project lifecycle. He is also engaged on debt and equity financings, asset management, and providing analytical support to the company.
Prior to NewQuest Residential, Peter served as an Associate on the Transactions team at Mid-America Apartments, the largest multifamily owner in the United States. While at Mid-America Apartments, Peter had coverage of the firm’s acquisition, disposition, and joint-venture development platforms across the Southeast and Coastal markets, completing over $2.6 billion of transactions across more than 15,000 units. Peter began his career his career at CBRE Capital Markets where he assisted with the underwriting and securitization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac multifamily asset pools on behalf of institutional clients.
A native Houstonian, Peter holds a double B.B.A in Real Estate and Finance from The University of Mississippi.
Abby Hayley is an attorney by trade, offering five years of both in-house and law firm experience. Abby joins NewQuest Residential most recently from Quadvest, LP, a private water and wastewater utility company, where she served as in-house counsel. Abby holds a J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law, and a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College.
In her role as Development Director, Abby is actively engaged in all aspects of the multi-family development process on behalf of NewQuest Residential, including site due diligence and support, company transactions, entitlement issues, community involvement, compliance, and supporting NewQuest Residential’s outside legal team.
Cindy Baker possesses over 30 years of administrative experience across a variety of organizations, including real estate.
In her role, Cindy provides comprehensive support to the NewQuest Residential team. Her responsibilities include streamlining management processes, scheduling and coordinating with the Marketing and GIS teams for the gathering of market and demographic information, as well as assisting her team in the incorporation of various data and software resources. Cindy has also served as a licensed real estate agent and is a certified Notary Public.