Credit: Josh Ritchie

A decade ago, Kenneth Naylor was studying in Japan without much of a clue about what he was going to do with his life. Now, Naylor, COO for Miami-based Carlisle Development, is dominating the tax-credit arena in Florida. In the highly competitive Florida process, Naylor went six for six in the most recent tax-credit cycle. Those deals, totaling nearly $130 million in tax-credit dollars for more than 700 very low- and low-income units, meant that Carlisle won more tax-credit awards than any other developer in the state. Since 2003, when he joined Carlisle, Naylor has built 25 developments, totaling 2,569 units and more than $470 million in total development costs. Right now, he has nine developments, totaling 981 units and $199 million in development costs.

That’s quite an accomplishment for a guy who originally started out in development without any kind of real business background. “I got back to the U.S. [after studying in Japan] having not done the traditional college job search,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘What do I want to do with my life once I’m done learning Japanese?’ The answer was not to keep learning Japanese. Having grown up in Miami, I think I somehow knew that real estate development was an option for me just because it’s a big thing down here.”

After getting his start in the industry with Hunter Properties in Chattanooga, Tenn., Naylor began as a project manager for Car­lisle after CEO Matt Greer, a friend, recruited him to the company. He moved up the chain to a vice president’s role, and now, at 32, is COO, pushing the company into new markets. He has created new relationships with partners in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and under Naylor’s leadership, Carlisle is also looking for new opportunities in the Southeast and on the West Coast.

Naylor has helped lead Carlisle’s multi­year redevelopments in various modes, including ventures with housing authority partners, complex historic rehabilitations, homeless developments, and transit-oriented communities. He also led Carlisle’s first public-private venture with the redevelopment of the housing authority site in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

“That involved growing expertise because it was our shift from classic development to being a developer that works more as a consultant with a public partner on very complicated projects with lots of stakeholders,” he says.