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CRE Pros: Among Charlotte's Most Annoying People?

When Charlotte Agenda published its “15 Most Annoying Types of Charlotteans, Ranked” story last week with No. 10 as “The Commercial Real Estate Guy,” we had to chuckle. And then write a rebuttal, of course.

Commercial real estate is the only occupation the Agenda mentioned. “Nobody knows what he actually does, but his new BMW, golf chatter and 'starter home' in Dilworth make me think that I should have gotten into the commercial real estate game even though the only property I’ve ever owned was on a Monopoly board,” it wrote.

We asked CRE people what they thought.

Aaron Ligon

Aaron Ligon, Managing Principal, Broker-in-Charge, The Sterling Group. Photographic evidence of Aaron Ligon's most recent Monopoly win.
Evidence of Aaron Ligon's most recent Monopoly win. "Here, I am hard-trading my son Philip with a railroad and cash for Boardwalk," he said. "No shelter here, son."

Company/Title: LCRE Partners managing principal, broker-in-charge

Bisnow: Can you give an official response to being considered one of Charlotte's 15 most annoying types of people?

Aaron Ligon: I may be annoying, but it’s because I negotiate for a living, not because of a flashy lifestyle! We live in Southeast Charlotte near Matthews, but ironically, we lived in Dilworth for five years prior to that. We moved further out to be close to Carmel Christian school, where our two boys attend.

Bisnow: What DO you actually do?

Ligon: Jon Dixon and I own two companies that are focused on commercial real estate. LCRE Partners is a full-service commercial real estate agency that provides services like property management, brokerage, leasing, development and consulting to owners and occupiers of real estate. LCRE Capital is a buyer and operator of commercial real estate, primarily close to Uptown and the light rail. We own some cool projects like 36 and NODA, where the Neighborhood Theater is located, and the 300 North College project, which is home to Flight, Lucky's and the Imperial. We like to try to improve properties rather than tear them down, and we enjoy working with local tenants.

Bisnow: How many BMWs have you owned, and what kind?

Ligon: Easy answer, zero. I have owned three Jeep Grand Cherokees though. The last one, I bought in about 15 minutes and told the agent to 'stop at yes' when he asked twice if I was sure. I do not spend any meaningful amount of time or money on depreciating assets like cars. Mostly, I invest in commercial properties. We also have a nice art collection of blue-chip artists and emerging artists, which is fulfilling and challenging.

Bisnow: What's your favorite Monopoly property?

Ligon: Boardwalk, like everybody else. I played Monopoly last weekend with my family in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. I won, of course. We stayed at the state park in some rustic cabins. Not real flashy, but you can walk to a stream to fish, and I have very fond memories spending time with my grandparents there as a little kid. Monopoly is a staple of every family vacation. There are actually lots of great life lessons in that game, like acquiring assets that pay dividends and taking risk to do so, rather than burning cash on lifestyle and unimportant things.

William K. Diehl III

William K. Diehl III treats himself to some hydration therapy after a hangover.
William K. Diehl III treats himself to some hydration therapy after a particularly bad hangover while sporting his Georgia Bulldogs hat.

Company/Title: Diehl Properties President

Bisnow: Can you give an official response to being considered one of Charlotte's 15 most annoying types of people?

William K. Diehl III: What an honor! I’m a unicorn. That means I’m one of those obnoxious Charlotteans that was here before there was a rail line, Panthers, Hornets or craft breweries. I am a ridiculously obnoxious Georgia Bulldogs fan and a pretty big restaurant snob. I guess I qualify.

Bisnow: What DO you actually do?

Diehl: I am a commercial real estate broker. Solo practitioner. I am the president, CEO and janitor of Diehl Properties LLC. My primary focus is tenant representation for high-end restaurant groups in the Southeast (think O-ku and Oak Steak, for instance). I help these clients figure out where to go, why we should go to there specifically, and then squeeze the landlord to make our tenancy economically viable. And the landlords pay me to torture them.

Bisnow: How many BMWs have you owned, and what kind?

Diehl: I’m a Benz guy.

Bisnow: What’s your favorite Monopoly property?

Diehl: Duh: North Carolina Avenue — undervalued with tremendous upside.

Caren Wingate

Caren Wingate of Wingate Advisory Group & The Gold District of Charlotte
Caren Wingate has only owned one BMW, for the record — a 325i. Here, she is driving a Saturn in Asheville while visiting her daughter.

Company/Title: Commercial Broker and Development Consultant, Wingate Advisory Group and The Gold District of Charlotte

Bisnow: Can you give an official response to being considered one of Charlotte's 15 most annoying types of people?

Caren Wingate: So glad we’re not No. 1.

Bisnow: What DO you actually do?

Wingate: You mean in addition to test-driving fast cars, meeting over lunch and eagerly awaiting the next issue of the Robb Report? First, we listen to our clients’ objectives. We navigate the perpetual obstacle course of demand and availability of commercial properties. My goal is to match goals of investors and tenants with those of sellers and landlords. It’s a lot like parkour. And we do it all on spec.

Bisnow: How many BMWs have you owned, and what kind?

Wingate: I have owned one BMW. It was a gold convertible, a 325i.

Bisnow: What's your favorite Monopoly property?

Wingate: North Carolina Avenue, of course. Did you really need to ask?

Bisnow: What's it like to be a CRE girl (as opposed to Charlotte Agenda’s reference to guy)?

Wingate: This is definitely a male-dominated profession in Charlotte and most of the brokers on the other side of my deals are men. I’m happy to see more young women pursue this field. For a long time, you wouldn’t see a female name associated with anything other than retail leasing. Now, women are involved in every area of CRE. My male counterparts do have their system of communicating with each other, but are very respectful to me. There will always be people who prefer to work with men, and that’s fine; there’s enough business to go around. I believe that women do look at things more holistically, though. This approach really appeals to some clients, and client referrals are evidence of that.

CORRECTION, Nov. 9, 2:46 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story had Aaron Ligon's company name in error. It has been updated.