By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
When David Wittenauer and Tom Maloney launched Wittenauer Properties nearly two years ago, it was with the hope the booming real estate market would continue.
That wish has been granted.
“We’re extremely busy,” Wittenauer says. “We’ve had very a strong first two years and our third year should be our best yet.”
The O’Fallon, Ill.-based firm united Wittenauer, a 20-year commercial real estate veteran, with Maloney, who he had worked with at another company. They started Wittenauer Properties in the spring of 2017.
Wittenauer serves as the firm’s president and managing broker – directing all brokerage, development and acquisition decisions across multiple industry sectors (retail, office, land and industrial)
Maloney serves as Wittenauer Properties’ vice president and works hand-in-hand with Wittenauer to guide the firm’s brokerage, development and acquisition strategies.
David Cozad joined the team in 2018 and serves as property manager and office manager. He has a wealth of experience from years in both the public and private sectors.
“David served as an alderman in O’Fallon for 10 years and is an invaluable resource to our team and our clients,” Maloney said.
The men started the company with a goal of creating a best-in-class, full-service real estate firm.
“We have always been, and continue to be, very selective in the properties that we market,” Wittenauer said. “We tailor our services to the needs of our clients and work hard to gain their trust through honesty, transparency and results, with the goal of adding real value to our clients and their properties.”
The brokerage represents sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants in commercial sale and lease transactions throughout the Metro East, St. Louis and Midwest. The firm is extremely active in the Metro East development community and has brokered a number of recent high-profile land sales in the last 12 to 18 months. Among them were the HSHS Cancer Center in O’Fallon, Dewey’s Pizza in O’Fallon, Gateway Metro Federal Credit Union in Shiloh, Serra Automotive in O’Fallon, MotoMart in Collinsville, Popeye’s in Collinsville, Mercy in Columbia, and others.
“In addition to land sales for future developments, we have completed a number of significant retail and office leases,” Wittenauer said. The most high-profile was the re-leasing of the former Gander Mountain building to Club Fitness and Northern Tool.
Wittenauer Properties also completed a number of investment sales in recent years including, most recently, the sale of a Starbucks-anchored shopping center in Collinsville and the acquisition of a multi-tenant retail center in Edwardsville.
“In the coming months, we will be launching the marketing of a new 62,700-square-foot Class-A office building that will be located on Regency Park in front of HSHS St. Elizabeth Hospital,” he said. The building will feature a first-floor restaurant and service retail space and three floors of Class-A professional office space fronting I-64.
Talking about the development process, the men said their roles can vary. Sometimes they are representing a land owner that is looking for a buyer or developer to purchase their property. In that scenario, the goal is to add as much value as possible by utilizing their marketing platform, resources, and working diligently to help clients accomplish their goals for the property.
“Our responsibilities include marketing the property, negotiating letters of intent and purchase agreements on behalf of our client, guiding our client through any necessary municipal approval process (zoning, plan approvals, incentives) required for the development, and helping bring the sale to a timely and successful close,” Wittenauer said.
Sometimes, the firm is representing a developer or end user that is looking to acquire property on which to build. In that scenario, responsibilities include initial site identification, market analysis, submitting and negotiating letters of intent and purchase agreements on behalf of the client, coordinating the due diligence process, assisting with any municipal approval process as needed, and helping bring the sale to close.
“We work to add value to our clients and make the process as simple and streamlined as possible,” Maloney said.
Wittenauer Properties has also acquired property itself in order to develop it.
“We have developed or acquired a number of retail centers, single-tenant buildings, restaurants, and other properties throughout the Metro East region and beyond. We are always looking for new opportunities to develop high-quality projects in areas we believe in,” the pair said.
Existing commercial buildings are in short supply these days, and good properties are being snapped up, in part because of the strength of the economy and lower interest rates.
“Inventory for existing buildings is pretty low, the lowest it’s been in a long time,” Wittenauer said.
Throughout the Metro East, there is plenty of land to build on, either raw or already served by infrastructure.
“The biggest challenge for most buyers is to find the right property that is going to fit their business needs and to acquire it at a price point that allows them to operate profitably,” said Wittenauer, who said he continues to see interest in retail and office-related properties from national and regional companies.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH