General manager of Centennial Lakes Office Park
Bloomington-based Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq recently hired Ellen Morton to manage Centennial Lakes Office Park in Edina, a high-profile, mixed-use property with five Class A office buildings totaling 835,000 square feet, a 25-acre park, two restaurants and a convenience store. The complex is 93 percent occupied. Morton says it’s almost like managing a small city, and she’s quickly working to get up to speed.
“It’s only been about a month, and it’s like the Mall of America right now for me,” she says. “Is Ann Taylor up on third floor or wait, on second? I’m trying to assimilate … and kind of map it in my brain. Get to know the crucial people. Walking the property is my new weight-loss program.”
Most recently, Morton was the property manager for Bloomington-based Frauenshuh HealthCare Real Estate Solutions, overseeing a portfolio of medical office buildings in Washington and Colorado. Before that, she was with Minnetonka-based Bayport Properties where she oversaw a 2 million-square-foot portfolio.
This is Morton’s second stint with Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq. She previously worked for the property management division of its predecessor United Properties as general manager of Park Place East and West in St. Louis Park and senior property manager of France Place in Bloomington.
Q: How did you get into real estate?
A: Through a temp agency; they placed me at Towle Real Estate (now Cassidy Turley). Then I was offered a full-time assistant position to two property managers of 1 million square feet of office space in the downtown Minneapolis business district. I immediately fell in love with the industry.
Q: What did you like?
A: The diversity. … As a property manager, you’re an architect, an accountant, a broker. And it wasn’t a desk job. I was up, out and over meeting with tenants. That’s my favorite part – the people.
Q: Where did you go after Towle?
A: In the ’90s, I worked for Welsh Cos. and had incredible bosses. The head of the department once told me I needed to show more moxie. Anyone who knows me would laugh, because I have plenty of that. He also said, ‘Hey Morton, I’m going to throw you in the lake (by Welsh’s headquarters) and if you make it back to shore, you’ll do fine.’ So he was wonderful but old school.
Q: How did you land this job?
A: I saw this opening and thought I’m just going to go for it, because I loved United Properties … I just threw my name in the hat. (The interview) was like a great first date.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.