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ATLANTA-Lane Co. has made a change to its top-line leadership. George Lane, chairman and founder of the locally based multifamily real estate firm, is resuming the title of CEO from Bill Donges, who held that position for the past three years and will remain with the company in an executive advisory role.

“It’s just a reflection of the times,” Donges tells GlobeSt.com in explaining the change. “The reality is that you have fewer projects and you don’t need as big an executive staff. We mutually agreed that this is the right move.”Donges adds that while Lane Co. remains active in property and asset management, the number of its multifamily projects has diminished greatly from previous years, largely due to capital markets contraction. This past fall, Lane broke ground on The Montage, a 19-story luxury apartment building in Downtown Orlando.

“Bill’s done a great job shepherding us through a strong period of growth, but unfortunately the real estate market is in a deep contraction,” Lane stated in a release. “While we want him to be free to pursue other opportunities, we are asking him to stay on as an advisor and continue to represent us as our ambassador to the real estate community.”

Donges, a US Naval Academy graduate who joined Lane Co. in 2002 and was promoted to CEO in 2005, is incoming chair of the National Association of Home Builders Multifamily Leadership Board and also serves on the board of the National Multi-Housing Council. He is credited by Lane with spearheading strategic planning to combine several disparate companies into a single entity, along with guiding Lane’s expansion into the Mid-Atlantic states, Texas and Florida.

Donges says he will retain an office at Lane’s Atlanta headquarters over the next few months as he seeks other local opportunities in commercial real estate, most likely in the multifamily sector. While the possibility exists that he could rejoin Lane someday in better times, he says it looks too far off because of the current economic state, particularly where capital markets are concerned.

“There is going to be a chasm in the next year or two,” he says. “It’s going to take some time to work through this.”

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