An Olathe real estate company is moving into Lawrence with two new agents, including one already plenty familiar to property owners, contractors and developers in town.
Fishman & Co., an Olathe-based firm that handles commercial and industrial real estate sales, leasing, development and property management, this month expanded into the Lawrence market by hiring two Lawrence residents: Mike Wildgen and Mark Talley.
Wildgen knows the market, having spent 16 years as Lawrence city manager and more than 30 years in administration at City Hall. As city government's top administrator, Wildgen led an operation with a $126 million budget, 750 personnel and operations for annexing property, zoning it for various uses and connecting its developments to city services.
Now he'll be working from the other side of the table.
"Mike brings extensive knowledge of the Lawrence community, extensive contacts and the ability to immediately know what the municipal requirements are going to be," said Lee Brodbeck, the agency's sales manager and broker, who toured sites in Lawrence on Monday. "He has contacts with community facilities and state authorities. We expect that he will be able to assist the people in Lawrence that want to use our services."
Brodbeck, himself a former city manager of Olathe, contacted Wildgen about joining the firm soon after Wildgen left City Hall. Wildgen had been forced to resign in March by Lawrence city commissioners concerned about the city's dwindling sewer capacity and deteriorating road conditions.
Wildgen, who spent six months as a consultant for the city, recently secured his temporary Realtor license and this month formally joined the firm that has been building, redeveloping and organizing commercial and industrial projects throughout the Kansas City metro area for 35 years.
"It's a business opportunity," Wildgen said. "I have some background in land use and know the town. They want a presence in Lawrence, and hope to see some activity and cover the area. We know people in town, and that's what they were looking for."
Talley, also a new sales agent, is a Kansas University graduate who has lived in Lawrence for 10 years and recently received a master's degree in marketing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The two agents give Fishman & Co. - considered the fourth-largest commercial real estate firm in the Kansas City area - an entry into the Lawrence market, which the firm has eyed for several years but had held off getting into until Wildgen's name came up.
The firm's clients - whether they're national retail chains, health care providers, theater operators or builders and managers of community shopping centers and industrial centers - often want to understand the timeline for a particular project and how it fits into a community's comprehensive plan and related documents before signing a deal, Brodbeck said.
"Mike can probably not even have to look at the book," Brodbeck said. "He can tell you from the top of his head. And if it needs to be revised, he knows the process to go through."
Kelvin Heck, senior vice president and principal for Grubb & Ellis|The Winbury Group in Lawrence, said his firm would welcome "competition in the marketplace" from Fishman & Co.
Heck declined to assess Wildgen's career move in detail.
"After what I consider a fairly long career in public service, I'm intrigued by a career path that moves (him) into an independent contractor sales job, or sales position," Heck said. "Beyond that I wish him very well. I look forward to working with him on transactions in the future."