Senior vice president, market manager of commercial real estate at Associated Bank
Jim Vitt, 43, has been named senior vice president, market manager of Associated Bank’s commercial real estate team that serves real estate companies, developers and builders in the Twin Cities. Vitt says the bank is continuing to work on building its brand in the Twin Cities as a major regional lending institution, and particularly in the commercial real estate arena. The Green Bay, Wis.-based bank is Wisconsin’s largest with $25 billion in assets.
Vitt, a Cando, N.D., native, has 20 years of finance experience. He most recently was Associated Bank’s vice president and relationship manager responsible for originating, underwriting and managing a portfolio of commercial real estate loans throughout the metro area. He also had stints at M&I Bank (now BMO Harris Bank) and Capital Real Estate Inc., a Minneapolis-based development company.
Q: How does your previous work in development help you relate to developers?
A: I feel like I have a unique view of how hard developers work. I can sit on the other side of the table and understand a little bit better what they’ve gone through to get where they are. And internally, I have good success in relaying that message through the bank.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year in this role?
A: It’s kind of getting my feet wet in the first year, but over time, I want Associated Bank to become the best middle-market real estate lender in the Twin Cities.
Q: After many banks pulled out of construction and development lending during the downturn, are many back lending again for commercial real estate projects?
A: They are. It’s very competitive. We were one of the first, I feel, to come back in the real estate business, because our CEO Phil Flynn had the vision of getting back into real estate early because the values were depressed. There was real equity in all the deals we would see and we knew all of the survivors. We were one of the first ones to hang our sign out and say we have money available. Today there are multiple bids on every project I look at.
Q: Is there still significant new construction financing in the Twin Cities apartment sector despite the thousands of new units being built?
A: Multifamily has been a very big part of what we’ve done over the past few years. It has been the bellwether — kind of pulling us through the Great Recession. I still think there’s a little bit of room in multifamily, but like everybody we’re being cautiously optimistic. We’re also very interested in the industrial market because that’s really hot right now.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.