Aesthetics matter. Just ask Vipin Nambiar, the founder and managing partner of HN Capital Partners. His growing $1 billion portfolio of popular, design-centric concepts includes local hotspots like the W Hotel, Virgin Hotel, and, most recently, the Mansion on Turtle Creek, which was acquired in September 2022.
“All of our investments have a hospitality play,” the 42-year-old says. “Hospitality is a great tool to activate districts and bring people together in a way office buildings or warehouses can’t.”
Born in Mumbai, India, Nambiar studied architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. But instead of pursuing a career in design, Nambiar earned an MBA in finance and applied economics from The University of Chicago’s esteemed Booth School of Business.
He cut his teeth in real estate as a managing director at Hunt Investment Group and Hunt Realty, working with billions in institutional capital flow before founding HN Capital Partners in 2017. (The H and N in his company’s name informally stand for Hunt and Nambiar, as his former employer is an investor in his firm.) “Real estate is my first love,” he says. “But I also had an entrepreneurial drive to start my own company.”
The idea of placemaking is a guiding principle for Nambiar. Instead of focusing on individual sites or buildings, HN Capital Partners takes a district-style approach to development. It is a blueprint that has paid dividends for his company in Austin and Los Angeles—and one that he’s looking to replicate here in Dallas with investments and assets in Victory Park, the Design District, and Turtle Creek neighborhoods.
Austin’s Red Bluff development includes an 81,000-square-foot office and retail building that adds to East Austin’s vibrancy. A brewery, retail, restaurants, and a forthcoming waterfront resort will further elevate the area, Nambiar says.
Meanwhile, in L.A., Hotel Per La has garnered press and acclaim for the adaptive reuse of the historic Giannini Building—a 12-story 1921 office building originally home to Bank of Italy that HN Capital Partners converted into a 241-room boutique hotel. Last fall’s grand opening included the debut of a ground-floor restaurant, Per L’Ora, and a daytime café and market, Café Ora, to help increase downtown L.A.’s cultural richness.
Whereas most developers focus on shorter three- to five-year plays, Nambiar says he seeks out high-quality assets and thinks about them in 15-year terms. “We like to get in there and get scale in urban areas. The more we do, the more value we can create for investors in the long term. Capitalize the project correctly, don’t overleverage yourself, and have partners willing to take the long-term approach with you—that’s our formula for success.”
It’s a winning strategy that helps his firm resist volatile economic cycles. It also allows Nambiar to look at macro trends—like the changing demographics of U.S. travelers—to ensure success. He says his company is developing, operating, and investing in hospitality for the future.
Most developers build existing hotel inventory for Baby Boomers who seek consistency in their hospitality experience. HN Capital Partners prides itself on being a lifestyle developer focusing on the needs and demands of Millennial and Gen Z consumers, Nambiar says. “The next generation of consumers are looking for something that feels totally different and unique,” he says. “We see consumers moving away from existing inventory in most major cities, and we want to be purveyors and creators of the new generation of hospitality product.”