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Author: Patty Drummond

June 2024 CREW Charlotte Luncheon “Reimaging Vintage Office Design”

Submitted by Ashleigh Mellon, Geo Hydro Engineers

At the recent CREW Charlotte June luncheon, attendees were treated to an insightful discussion led by James LaBar of Center City Partners. The focal point? Maximizing the potential of vintage Uptown office space. Rooted in a recent community-wide design competition, the conversation aimed to ignite creativity around existing office buildings in Uptown Charlotte, with the overarching goal of bolstering Uptown as a regional asset brimming with diverse destinations and economic activities.

The panel, comprising representatives from the two winning projects – Brooklyn & Church by Asana Partners/MRP Realty and 301 South College Street by Progressive Companies/Childress Klein – brought forth innovative approaches and future-oriented visions.

Reed Kracke of Asana Partners unveiled the Brooklyn and Church project, an ambitious endeavor involving the conversion of office towers into a mixed-use space blending retail and multifamily units. This transformation, complemented by the construction of a new retail building, promises to infuse 55,000 square feet of retail space into the area, fostering a vibrant “downtown neighborhood” ambiance and enhancing walkability within the coveted Brooklyn Village East West Corridor.

Ryan Doherty of Progressive Companies and Amy Clement of Childress Klein delved into their design concept for 301 South College, emphasizing the aim to inspire future possibilities for the project. Their proposal revolves around activating the street level with an array of retail outlets, restaurants, and entertainment venues, while also leveraging the presence of the light rail to create a dynamic experiential space.

The broader context of the discussion touched upon the evolving nature of downtowns nationwide, transitioning from traditional Central Business Districts to more dynamic Central Activity Districts. This shift brings with it a set of challenges, particularly concerning vintage assets predominantly constructed before the turn of the millennium. However, the panelists and attendees alike recognized this as an opportunity to spearhead revitalization efforts and transform Uptown Charlotte into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

In essence, the CREW Charlotte luncheon served as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and forward-thinking initiatives aimed at reimagining Uptown as a vibrant urban hub. By harnessing the potential of vintage office spaces and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, the vision of a revitalized Uptown Charlotte as a bustling epicenter of activity inches closer to reality.


CREW Charlotte May 2024 Signature Luncheon with Dominique Dawes “Success is a Journey, Not a Destination”

Submitted by Julie Pruett, Marlboro Development Team

Photo Credit: Jo Hayes

Dominique Dawes won Olympic gold, but for her, success has been about more than just medals and accolades. It’s something she worked hard to achieve every day on her journey to Olympic glory. Her career in the sport of gymnastics spanned 18 years, reaching its peak at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as part of the “Magnificent Seven,” where the US Women’s Gymnastics team won gold for the first time in history.

Reflecting on her experience, Dawes explained that gymnastics is an individual sport, and initially, each member of the 1996 US Women’s gymnastics team came to training camp with individual mindsets. However, a shift occurred during training that brought them together as a team. This shift in mindset, Dawes emphasized, led them to adopt the motto “Together Everyone Achieves More.” As a result, team members began to genuinely support one another, setting aside their egos, which allowed them to gel as a team and ultimately win Olympic Gold.

Dawes attributes her success not only to her talent and hard work but also to her ability to shift focus away from herself and to check her ego, which is all about control. This mindset has enabled her to become a successful business owner of gymnastics training locations, the first of which was founded during the global pandemic. She stressed the importance of prioritizing the safety and happiness of the gymnasts.

Additionally, Dawes highlighted the significance of family as the most important team, emphasizing the need to check one’s ego within the family unit. She believes that getting one’s home life right, with the most important team, sets the foundation for success in all other aspects of life.

From her gymnastics career to becoming a successful business owner and prioritizing her family, Dawes overcame inevitable obstacles, challenges, and doubts on her life’s journey. She stresses that focusing not only on achievements and accolades but on what’s real and lasting is the key to a successful and happy life.

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Charlotte Established Endowment for Johnson C. Smith University

Charlotte, North Carolina (April 9, 2024) – CREW Charlotte, one of the most transformative commercial real estate professional organizations in the Charlotte region, announced Tuesday its establishment of a $25,000 endowment benefitting Johnson C. Smith University. The endowment will offset educational expenses for select top performing female students seeking degrees that could lead to careers in commercial real estate. CREW Charlotte funded the endowment through donations raised at various events hosted annually by the organization and chose Johnson C. Smith to receive the generous gift in an effort to further its commitment to diversity and supporting activities that positively impact the Charlotte community.


CREW Charlotte President Katie Barker with Morningstar Properties, presents check to Dr. Evelyn Leathers, Dr. Alphonso Ogbuehi, and Jennifer Joyner with Johnson C. Smith University


Johnson C. Smith is a private, independent historically black university located in Charlotte, North Carolina that was founded in 1867 as a freedmen’s college to educate formerly enslaved black men. JCSU is one of 11 HBCUs in North Carolina recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The school offers 22 degree programs through its three colleges to nearly 1,100 students annually.


Founded in 1990, CREW Charlotte is a chapter of CREW Network, the commercial real estate industry’s premier business networking organization with over 14,000 members globally. CREW Charlotte boasts over 400 commercial real estate professionals in the Greater Charlotte region. To learn more, visit

April 2024 Luncheon: “Thriving Submarkets in Charlotte”

Submitted by Julie Pruett, Marlboro Development Team

CREW Charlotte’s April luncheon showcased Charlotte’s remarkable ascent to becoming the fifteenth largest city in the United States, with a particular focus on its most vibrant submarkets, including South End, University City, SouthPark, and Ballantyne.

Marguerite Novak, representing City Center Partners, provided insights into the staggering $41 billion investment within the City Center footprint. Among the notable current projects is McColl Park, paying homage to Hugh McColl’s legacy. The park’s design is currently being refined, with construction slated to commence in 2024 and an anticipated opening in the summer of 2025. City Center Partners also unveiled their ambitious long-term plan, featuring the North Tryon Tech Hub, a long range plan that will span two decades.

Keith Stanley of University City Center emphasized the unprecedented growth of the University City submarket. Encompassing 8 square miles in North Charlotte, the area boasts 4,700 businesses, a population of 150,000, and a workforce of 100,000. Future developments along the boardwalk, a $40 million library and a research park that will be linked by a pedestrian bridge to UNC Charlotte, promise to further elevate the area’s stature.

Adam Rhew, representing SouthPark Community Partners, revealed that SouthPark is experiencing a surge of $1 billion in new development. Encompassing just one square mile, SouthPark is home to 100,000 residents and a workforce of 32,000. Notably, the newly established municipal service district, including the highly successful SouthPark Mall, underscores the area’s economic vitality. With ongoing renovations at Phillips Place and plans for experiential retail, SouthPark Community Partners is spearheading the 2035 Vision Plan, envisioning enhanced walkability, green spaces, and a vibrant park-centric environment.

Lastly, Christina Thigpen, representing Northwood Office and a board member of South Charlotte Partners, provided insights into the transformation of Ballantyne’s campus. The former golf course is evolving into a dynamic mixed-use development. Groundbreaking in 2021, Ballantyne’s revitalization has been supported by the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County with assistance with road and water enhancements. The “New Heart” of Ballantyne, encompasses both indoor and outdoor spaces, with Olde Mecklenburg Brewery anchoring the development with a 1-acre beer garden set to open next month. With plans for a 26-story residential tower, a 6-acre stream park, Amp @ Ballantyne which will be an outdoor concert venue, and Greenway acres facilitating connectivity to uptown via bike, Ballantyne’s reimagination promises to redefine contemporary living in Charlotte.

As these ambitious projects take shape, Charlotte is poised to not only maintain its status a major metropolitan hub but also emerge as a beacon of urban excellence, offering its resident and visitors unparalleled opportunities for living and thriving in all areas of the Queen City.

CREW Charlotte’s February 2024 Luncheon: “What’s Next at CLT?”

Submitted by Julie Pruett, Marlboro Development Team

A record-breaking 245 people attended CREW Charlotte’s February Luncheon! Located 6 miles from the city center, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) stands as the seventh busiest airport in the United States, boasting a remarkable achievement in 2023 by accommodating over 53 million passengers, marking it as a record-breaking year. Ted Kaplan, Chief Business and Innovation Officer at CLT, elaborated on the airport’s economic significance. With 180 nonstop destinations and 36 international destinations, CLT generates $32 billion annually in economic impact in North Carolina, constituting 5% of the State’s GDP. Owned and operated by the City of Charlotte, CLT operates under a self-sustaining federal mandate, necessitating that all expenditures at the airport be covered by aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues.

Stuart Hair, Director of Commercial and Community Engagement, outlined CLT’s response to its exponential growth through various airport renovations and expansions. The completion of the terminal lobby expansion, representing a $608 million investment, is anticipated by 2025. Concurrently, the ongoing Concourse A Expansion – Phase II, set to add 10 new gates, is slated for completion in 2024. Furthermore, the construction of a fourth parallel runway, earmarked for completion in 2027, symbolizes a monumental investment of $1 billion.

In tandem with aeronautical advancements, Jennifer Thompson, Commercial Engagement Manager, unveiled CLT’s endeavor to diversify revenue streams by releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of a destination district. The RFP, aimed at generating non-aeronautical revenue, sets the deadline for proposals as February 22, 2024, with the selection of a developer scheduled for April 2024.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) exemplifies not only a vital transportation hub but also a cornerstone of economic activity in North Carolina. With its ambitious expansion plans and strategic initiatives to bolster revenue, CLT is poised to continue its trajectory of growth and serve as a catalyst for economic development in the region.

January 2024 Luncheon: “The National and Regional Economy in 2024”

Submitted by Ashleigh Mellon, Geo-Hydro Engineers


At the January luncheon, economist Laura Ulrich, with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, delivered an optimistic message, assuring that the current data does not indicate a potential recession in 2024. Despite potential roadblocks, the resilience of consumer spending amid inflation stands out as a key factor in averting an economic downturn. Ullrich noted that the Federal Reserve has concluded its rate increases, and there are signs of rates starting to decline. Global supply chain issues have largely subsided to levels below those seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, although some isolated challenges persist. Housing starts and permits have seen an uptick in recent months, although they remain below 2021 levels, and the pervasive issue of housing shortages persists across communities. Notably, North Carolina emerges as a strong performer in employment recovery, with Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte leading the way in exceeding the state’s 7 percent job growth. Despite the positive outlook, the tight labor market is acknowledged, and there is a recognition that it may continue to tighten in the future.

For Laura’s full presentation, please click here.


CREW Charlotte’s December Luncheon: “The Power of Partnerships: An Inside Look at the Brookhill Village Redevelopment”

Submitted by Julie Pruett, Marlboro Development Team


The final CREW luncheon of 2023 emerged as the pinnacle of inspiration and upliftment for the year. Guided by Antoine Dennard, a Partner at Quore Advisors, the event featured a captivating panel discussion which included his partner is in the Brookhill Village redevelopment, Mike Griffin with Griffin Brothers, Colin Pinkney with The Harvest Center and Warren Wooten with the City of Charlotte.  Together, these entities united their efforts to redevelop 100 units in Brookhill Village, originally established in 1957.

The overarching objective of the Brookhill Village redevelopment was to retain current residence in their units while preserving the development’s affordable housing status. Notably, Brookhill Village marked the inception of affordable housing for African American in the City of Charlotte. Dennard emphasized several times throughout the presentation, “Our goal was to put the residents first and everything else would work out.” In some instances, there were 5th generation residents living in Brookhill Village and it was the partner’s ultimate goal to improve their lives.

Beyond the redevelopment of the existing living units, Quore Advisors and Griffin Brothers envision a mixed-use development to include vertical tiny homes, retail and wrap around services provided by the Harvest Center to include a gym, kitchen and training center. The partners also aspire to pay tribute to Tremont Station and the spirit of South End.

The Brookhill Village redevelopment stands on the precipice of transformation, buoyed by substantial support from the City and County, as well as a $3 million investment by Harvest Center, announced during the CREW luncheon. This initiative not only promises to reshape the landscape of the area but will also change lives.


CREW Charlotte Announces 2023 Impact Award Winners

On the evening of November 1st, CREW Charlotte celebrated their annual Impact Awards celebration at Myers Park Country Club.  The awards honor members and projects that have had a meaningful impact on the Charlotte area community and CREW Charlotte.


Nikki Thornton, Controller at MECA Commercial Real Estate, received the Emerging Leader Award.  The Emerging Leader Award honors those CREW Charlotte individuals that embody excellence, spirit and energy in the field of Commercial Real Estate and the CREW Charlotte Chapter.

Nikki has been extremely active during her time with CREW by serving in multiple capacities including as a Board Member, and has served on numerous committees. She is an outstanding CREW CLT emerging leader!

Elsa Simaan of Stewart Title National Commercial Services was awarded The Carrie Sharp Power Connector Award. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member that goes above and beyond networking to actively establish or strengthen relationships with fellow CREW members and sponsors by intentionally connecting members and sponsors to other members and sponsors through business and referral generation.

This individual also demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to marshal CREW talent, resulting in measurable business for other CREW members or sponsors. This individual exemplifies the power and spirit of CREW and their efforts result in measurable CREW business.

Elsa is the embodiment of this award as she is continually driven and genuinely motivated to invest in the successful networking of her fellow CREW members.

Tonya Brandon of Cushman & Wakefield was the 2023 recipient of The Career Advancement for Women Award. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who consistently exemplifies CREW Charlotte’s commitment to elevating the status of women in commercial real estate by working to advance the careers of other women. This award is presented as a result of actions of this individual that had a significant impact on one or more women, giving them the skills or confidence to pursue and succeed in new opportunities.

Tonya is a passionate advocate for the advancement of women in commercial real estate.  For more than a decade, she has championed for elevated roles and compensation for women within her company.

Monika Nessbach, founder and Chief Interior Designer of DESIGNBAR is this year’s winner of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.  This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who achieved a unique career success or milestone as the result of an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit. This individual is often a risk taker and is willing to step outside the box to create something new or different – providing services, creating products or improving practices by innovatively organizing, developing or deploying resources either within their own company, as part of a larger organization their industry or community.

Fourteen years ago, she embarked on a journey to start DESIGNBAR. Four years later she left her successful corporate career to put her heart and soul behind her dream. Along the way, she didn’t just build a company; she built a workplace that encourages authenticity, and creativity, an environment that embodies EPIC fun and where collaboration thrives.


The recipient of this year’s DEI Impact Award was Diana Palecek of Fox Rothschild. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who tirelessly helps to advance the organization’s goals to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in membership and leadership.

Diana was nominated because she is helping to change the culture of CREW Charlotte by expanding our community cohort program to include a cohort centered on professionals with disabilities.

Camp North End was the unanimous winner of The Community Project Impact Award -for Profit. This award honors a building or project that positively affects not only its inhabitants, but the surrounding community. The winner of this award exemplifies meaningful change in our city in the physical space, whether it is a development with great green space or a building that services those in need in our community.

CREW Charlotte Silver Sponsor, Trinity Partners, provides leasing and property management services for the site. Other CREW Charlotte members participating with goods and services at Camp North End include: Barringer, Choate, Swinerton, Scotties, and O’Leary Waste.


Amy’s House, the new shelter for Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCCADV) that was designed by SGA|NW in partnership with IMEG is the 2023 CREW Charlotte Community Project Impact Award – non-profit.  This award honors a building or project that positively affects, not only its inhabitants, but the community surrounding it. The winner of this award exemplifies meaningful change in our community in the physical space on the non-profit side.

This project relied on multiple CREW Charlotte members who contributed to its success.  Architects Kelly Steele and Krista Karlson of SGA|NW a GF design company, led the design.  They partnered with Scott Campagna and Marissa Date of IMEG for the MEP and Structural Engineering.  Carrie Sharp with Indoff Commercial Interiors assisted with providing comfortable and long-lasting furniture, and Lacey Johnson provided artistic and interior design direction to help the space feel welcoming.


The Creative Design Award winner for 2023 is the Gresham Smith Building.  Creative design of a building comes in many forms, including exterior architecture, interior design, art, branding and furnishings. How a space is designed immediately impacts people and their experience. This award goes to the project that inspires the world around it and moves the needle in creativity.

Marie McLucas, CFO of Primax Properties is the winner of The Circle of Excellence Award. This award recognizes a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor who consistently delivers excellence and whose efforts advance the commercial real estate industry and support our mission. This individual sets and achieves the highest standards of performance, accomplishing superior execution and results. The award winner is trusted and respected by others, and is seen as a thought leader, change agent, and champion of diversity.

Marie has served in several leadership roles within CREW Charlotte and CREW Network which culminated in her serving as president in 2017 and on the 2024 Board of Directors for CREW Network. She helped to create the inaugural CREW Charlotte’s Authentic Leadership Program in partnership with CREW Charlotte and Athena International and is a 2023 recipient of the Athena Leadership – Corporate Award.

CREW’s October 2023 Luncheon: “Higher Ed Meets Healthcare”

Submitted by Beth Burleson, DOD Office Interiors

On Tuesday, October 10th, Hillary Crittendon, Dennis W. Miller, and Bennett Thompson introduced us to The Pearl – a mixed-use, innovation district combining office, retail, residential, a medical school and lab, and community gathering spaces.

Atrium Health, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and the North American home for IRCAD – an international experiential surgical training facility, will anchor this exciting innovative destination generating $81M to our local economy and over 11,000 job opportunities.



August 2023 Luncheon “The River District: Charlotte’s Newest Master-Planned Community”

submitted by Julie Pruett, Marlboro Development Team

The Crescent Communities River District team, consisting of Fran West, Jennifer Sharraba, Lisa Phocas, and partner Bart Landess of Catawba Lands Conservancy, captivated a full audience with an update on their ambitious project, The River District. Departing from the conventional suburban model, this visionary 1,400-acre sustainable community seamlessly blends urban elements like homes, retail, dining, offices, and educational facilities with the enchantment of parks, trails, woodlands, and the Catawba River.

The River District, “The Soul of a City in the Heart of Nature,” is set to encompass 2,300 homes, 2,350 multi-family units, 550 acres of open space, 1,000 hotel rooms, 500,000 square feet of retail space, and a vast 8 million square feet of commercial space. A pivotal feature, Project Breakpoint, a world-class tennis facility, will host an annual 2-week tennis tournament and 26 concerts, with the debut tournament scheduled for August 2026. Anchored by 30 parks, 30 miles of mountain biking trails, and a 2-acre working farm, this master planned development is conveniently situated within 5 miles of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, effortlessly connecting urban living to nature.

Environmental stewardship lies at the core of The River District, adhering to the One Planet Living principles through a comprehensive action plan addressing ten sustainability pillars. The collaboration with Catawba Lands Conservancy underscores the commitment to preservation, as evidenced by their in-depth nature study, fostering both existing and new wildlife habitats.

With its sprawling expanse, innovative components like Project Breakpoint, and unwavering dedication to sustainability, The River District stands poised to redefine community living while preserving and nurturing the environment.