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Willco Hires New CEO As It Plans 4M SF Of Montgomery County Development

Willco CEO Tom Regnell

Willco has hired a longtime D.C.-area real estate executive as its new CEO as it moves forward with two major Montgomery County developments. 

The Potomac-based development firm announced Thursday it appointed Tom Regnell as CEO. Regnell spent the last six years as president and CEO of the Chevy Chase Land Co

Regnell stepped down from Chevy Chase Land Co. earlier this year, and the firm announced in July it hired John Ziegenhein from McCaffery as its CEO. 

Previously, Regnell spent 19 years at WashREIT, where he served as senior vice president and managing director. He also worked at Federal Realty and Spaulding & Slye in the 1980s and 1990s. 

The move will have Regnell leading a larger company with a significant development pipeline. Willco has a 5M SF operating portfolio with 60 employees, while Chevy Chase has about 2M SF and 35 employees, Regnell said. Willco has been led since 1973 by Chairman Richard Cohen. 

"I've known Richie Cohen and Willco for almost my entire career, and it was a great opportunity to bring leadership to the next generation," Regnell said. 

Willco owns two sites near the White Flint Metro station in North Bethesda totaling 36 acres where it is planning over 4M SF of development.

An aerial sketch of Willco's planned development at the intersection of Montrose Parkway and Towne Road in North Bethesda.

The first site, a 16-acre property planned for 1.8M SF of townhouses, low-rise and high-rise multifamily, received preliminary plan approval from Montgomery County in July. The project sits on the north side of Montrose Parkway at the intersection of Towne Road, catty-corner from the Pike & Rose development. 

The developer is preparing to submit plans for the 20-acre site on the south side of Montrose Parkway, directly to the west of Pike & Rose. That property features existing government-leased office buildings, but Regnell said it has future development potential for 2.5M SF of office, retail and multifamily.

Willco is also currently redeveloping a Downtown D.C. office building at 1111 20th St. NW, the former headquarters of the Peace Corps, which moved to NoMa last year. 

"We have incredible redevelopment opportunities," Regnell said.