By Dan Orlando
Colleen Wenke, a Queens-native, feels that fate may have led her to a career in real estate.
“I think if you had said to me during my undergrad’ career that I would work in real estate, I would have said ‘no thank you’,” Wenke told Real Estate Weekly.
“The stars aligned and it happened,” she added, stressing that it was “very much not” her initial goal.
Wenke, now a vice president at Taconic Real Estate Partners, actually began her undergraduate studies in the pursuit of a career in medicine. A pre-med student at Boston College, she graduated with a degree in psychology.
However, Wenke was quickly drawn towards the business side of the private sector, and said that her exposure to real estate “happened to be a very good culmination of many different things.”
Upon deciding that the industry was better suited to her personality than a medical career, Wenke opted to go back to school.
“Simultaneously while doing several projects, I went to school at night for my masters in real estate to kind of understand the language,” she said.
“I felt that, although I definitely had such a strong appetite for this environment, if I really didn’t speak the whole language, I’d hit a ceiling pretty early if I didn’t evolve.”
As Wenke got more immersed in the business, she has “fallen in love with real estate development and construction.”
She said that not understanding the field when she first entered it made the career path even more rewarding.
“I think it was learning more about it, the exposure, the touch points and kind of living it,” said Wenke recalling what kept her motivated through night classes and her rookie years on the job.
“We redeveloped an historic landmark building in the Meatpacking District,” said Wenke while discussing her early years with Taconic. “That was rally the first taste of me seeing everything from soup to nuts.” The experience left her hungry for more.
“I have to think sometimes the stars do align and a little bit of magic happens,” she said, describing her tenure thus far as “consistently challenging and interesting.”
A member of the Taconic team since 2001, Wenke is responsible for asset management, construction, and development projects.
Her responsibilities include project management, design development, contract negotiations, portfolio strategy, marketing, leasing, and sales.
She has been responsible for or directly involved in developing or repositioning over two million s/f of commercial space and Wenke believes that her latest project, Essex Crossings, is in an area of Manhattan that is going through a revolutionary stage of development, the Lower East Side.
In the fall of 2013, Taconic teamed with L&P Development Partners, BFC Partners, and The Prusik Group to develop nine city-owned LES sites that had been primarily vacant since