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Luncheon Summary

“New Year, New You?”

Submitted by Sara Whitten with Shiel Sexton

On January 14, 2020 Dr. Dawn E. Chanland, Professor of Management, Queens University of Charlotte, kicked off the 2020 CREW monthly luncheons with a presentation on “Personal Change Strategies to Maximize Your Impact in 2020.”

40-60% of people set resolutions at New Year, only 8% achieve them. Change is daunting and you need to diagnose your demons! How can we make change stick and gain maximum impact? You must care about the change you want to make. You must strongly value it and do it differently than you did before. Make small but meaningful behavioral changes:

  • do some sit-ups at night
  • do arm weights 3 or 4 times a week
  • say no to sweets…sometimes!

Write down your goals and tell your people; they will hold you accountable. Pick someone who you can be vulnerable with; who is your “person”?! We change when we strongly care about the change and when we value ourselves. However, don’t have too many goals – achieve them one at a time and say “no” to more. Do Less, Then Obsess.  Wield a Razor on Unnecessary Stuff. What will I look like if I’m at my very best?

How committed are you to this change in 2020?

CREW Charlotte 2019 Impact Awards

Submitted by Diana Quarry, Womble Bond Dickinson

On December 10, 2019, CREW Charlotte members and guests gathered to celebrate the best and brightest of our chapter over the past year.  In Sallie Jarosz’s final luncheon of her presidency, she thanked all members, especially the 2019 Board of Directors, Committee Co-Chairs, past chapter presidents and long-standing members, for their hard work and dedication to CREW Charlotte’s mission.  Attendees also had the honor of hearing from the 2020 CREW Network President, Christine Gorham, about new initiatives and efforts in store for CREW Chapters during the upcoming year. 

Keynote speaker Cindy Wolfe, Chief Banking Officer at Bank OZK and past CREW Charlotte president, spoke to members about the value of investing in oneself and not always asking one’s employer to carry the cost for any professional development programs.  She believes that, while mentors and sponsors at work are valuable resources, there is a special benefit to paying your own way for a coach or program that will push you outside of your comfort zone.  She noted that women are generous with donating their time, talent and money to CREW and other causes, but that it is important to allocate some of that towards one’s own growth and success. 

Finally, Ms. Wolfe announced our 2019 Impact Award Winners.  The award program had been refreshed for 2019, with some new awards being granted.  The esteemed winners were as follows:

  • The Ground Breaker Award honors a new CREW Charlotte member who positively impacted CREW Charlotte through active service since joining.  This year’s award went to Nijah Wilson.  Ms. Wilson has been an active member on the Student Outreach committee, assisting with UCREW efforts by participating in several college fairs and building relationships with university faculty.  She was also critical to the reinstatement of the CREW Careers Program.  She was also a graduate of the 2019 CREW Charlotte Authentic Leadership Program and will be sitting on the Leadership Program committee in 2020 to help develop the curriculum for future programs.
  • The Carrie Sharp Power Connector Award honors a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor who went beyond networking and actively established or strengthened relationships with fellow members or sponsors.  This year’s award went to Scarlet Powell of Unified Technology Systems.  When collecting nominations for this award, CREW Charlotte received an overwhelming number of nominations for Ms. Powell – a testament to just how many people she has made strong connections with over the past year.  A member since 2009, Ms. Powell has been a constant and reliable presence in the Charlotte chapter, graciously volunteering her time over the years. She has played vital roles on the Board, as well as the Programs, Sponsorship and Communications Committees.
  • The Member-to-Member Business Award honors a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor who consistently demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to marshal CREW talent, resulting in measurable business for other CREW members or sponsors. This year’s award went to Dianne Jones of Maxis Advisors.  Ms. Jones has formed a network within CREW that she uses to refer business to others. By always staying informed, she even makes connections on deals in which she’s not involved.  She promotes fellow CREW members, opening doors and assembling member talent whenever possible to provide insight on new projects.
  • The Career Advancement for Women Award honors a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor 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 year’s award went to Denise Dexter of JLL. Over the last 18 years, Ms. Dexter has risen through the ranks of commercial real estate, learning from the ground up.  Her entire career has revolved around hard work, being prepared and nurturing others.  As the mother of twin teenage girls, she appreciates the importance of women in the workplace and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion at her firm. She not only nurtures women in the workplace, but all intelligent young professionals, providing the level playing field we all desire.
  • The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award honors a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor who achieved a unique career success or milestone in the past 12 months as a result of an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit. This year’s award went to Randy Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Consulting & Review. Ms. Hopkins was already a successful entrepreneur as the president of a boutique appraisal firm. As a result of self-evaluation, she participated in the inaugural CREW Charlotte Authentic Leadership Program, where she realized she wanted to use her innate strengths to re-envision the next phase of her career. Over the past year, she closed her prior company and formed a single-member LLC to showcase her talents as a review appraiser and consultant. Ms. Hopkins has shown that one can always continue to grow and evolve.
  • The Circle of Excellence Award is CREW Charlotte’s top honor, and recognizes a member or sponsor who consistently delivers excellence and whose efforts advance the commercial real estate industry and support CREW Charlotte’s mission. Ms. Jarosz presented this year’s award to Katie Barker of Childress Klein. Ms. Jarosz noted all of Ms. Barker’s help in executing on the 2019 strategic vision for the Chapter.  Ms. Barker was also tasked with improving the sponsorship experience, raising money and working tirelessly to be a change agent. She also played a vital role with coordinating sponsorship focus groups, and then organized the overall feedback from those sessions into clear actionable items that became the genesis of new sponsor events.

Ballantyne Reimagined

Submitted by Diana Quarry, Womble Bond Dickinson

On November 12, 2019, CREW Members and guests had the pleasure of hearing about a critical piece of the revitalization of the Ballantyne area of Charlotte from the Northwood Office team – John Barton, President of Northwood Office, Kim Kendall, VP of Leasing, and Jana Dolder, Director of Property Management.  Northwood purchased over 500 acres in Ballantyne from Smokey Bissell in 2017, and shared its vision for the area’s continued development over the next few years.

The core of the redevelopment, packaged as Phase I of the vision, will focus on building a destination for work, living, fitness, retail and recreation.  Mr. Barton highlighted some of the features of Phase I, which will include an outdoor amphitheater, Stream Park (said to be the “Central Park” of the area), a walkable retail strip, and a series of curated restaurants.  Ample green space is an important part of Phase I, and Northwood anticipates making the most of this space by hosting farmer’s markets and outdoor yoga events.  Phase I will also include approximately 1,000 multifamily units for rent, 300,000 square feet within the entire mixed use community and 200 hotel rooms.  Northwood is targeting that Phase I be open within 5 or 6 years from Q1 2020. Phase II of the redevelopment will follow completion of Phase I, and will contain another 1,000 multi-family units plus 300 townhomes, in addition to 400,000 square feet of office space.

Ms. Kendall elaborated on the specifics of a Class A office building which will be built across from Phase I and will be loaded with amenities.  In addition to a 10th floor balcony and a rooftop terrace, the building will feature a 2,500 square foot fitness facility, a restaurant and retail on the main level, and the entire 11th floor dedicated as an amenity space for tenants of the building, including a 50-person conference room, kitchen and event space.  She also described an adjacent residential project which will house 212 units and will feature a rooftop lounge, dog run and resident “speakeasy”.  Both buildings that Ms. Kendall described are slated to open in 2021.

Finally, Ms. Dolder spoke to Northwood’s commitment to community engagement, which is a core value for the developer.  They show this commitment through planning monthly programming and events including free yoga, social hours, an annual wellness fair and Earth Day events.  They also host and sponsor numerous volunteer projects and charitable drives to give back to people in their community. 


A Conversation with Mayor Vi Lyles

Submitted by Anna O'Neal, Wells Fargo Bank

At CREW Charlotte’s October Luncheon on October 9, 2019, Mayor Vi Lyles covered a broad range of topics facing Charlotte including affordable housing, infrastructure, environmental justice, social equity, and the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program.  She also reflected on her years in Charlotte and her experience as an African American woman in a leadership position.

Mayor Lyles sat with moderator Stacia Neugent of GreerWalker and spoke with candor about the challenges facing the City and various paths to improve our great City, including reliable transportation, private-public partnerships for affordable housing, and taking reasonable action to combat climate change. She stated, “Charlotte is at its best when we have a dialogue that is about collaboration.”

Finally, the Mayor urged everyone to take action to be involved with the City of Charlotte, beginning with voting in the upcoming elections on November 5. She encouraged the audience to review everyone on the slate, including the City Council, and think about how we can move Charlotte forward.

The Rebirth of Resiliency: Implementing Sustainable Practices to Build Adaptable Communities

Submitted by Stacia Neugent, GreerWalker

On Tuesday, August 13th, CREW Charlotte hosted a panel on the rebirth of resiliency at Byron’s Southend. The panel featured Dylan Kirk, sustainability coordinator for Mecklenburg County, Kristina Held, partner at Insight Architects, and Zack Wyatt, executive director for Carolina Farm Trust. Emily Buehrer, landscape architect and project manager with Stimmel Associates, served as the moderator.

In a time when there continues to be frequent extreme weather events, designing with the environment in mind has become even more important. Resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, land, communities and regions in response to these vulnerabilities.

One of the topics discussed at the luncheon was the cost associated with “green development”. Kristina confirmed that there are additional costs associated with making sustainable choices, but they are relatively small on a percentage basis. It is also important to keep in mind that this references the monetary costs, but there are many other costs to be considered when making the decisions regarding development. You have to consider the impact to the land being consumed as well as the impact to the communities in which you are developing. The panel discussed that the “urban sprawl” effect is one of the biggest issues impacting the Charlotte region. The impacts of urban sprawl include increased air and water pollution, increased infrastructure impacts and reliance on cars due to longer commutes.

While we may have a ways to go to get to where we need to be, the panelists acknowledged that recognition is the first step and discussions like this luncheon are shedding light on this important topic. Emily concluded the luncheon with a powerful Dr. Seuss quote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better, its not.”

Coworking: The Past, Present and Future

Submitted by Sivilay Xayasaene, Gresham Smith

On June 11, 2019, CREW Charlotte’s luncheon program featured a panel of all CREW members who addressed the many questions surrounding Coworking.  The panel included Wendy Hill with IWG, Hunter Fleshood with WeWork, Mary Wilken with Insite Properties and moderator Virginia Luther with Savills. The luncheon was also CREW Charlotte’s FIFTH annual Bring Your Intern to Lunch.

The panel discussed where they see the future and evolution of coworking and agree that the trend isn’t slowing down. With market unpredictability, the need for flexibility in real estate has increased as companies of all sizes across industries are less likely to pursue longer term leases.  The ability to scale quickly globally is attractive to large companies and the ability to have access to amenities otherwise out of reach for many small firms makes the coworking solution attractive to most organizations.

Across the country, over the last few years we’ve seen a shift in power from employer to employee. According to research from IWG, flexible working is an expectation as a company offering, not just a perk. In the war for talent, having a flexible work environment can be a deal breaker. This approach allows firms to hire people where they want to live – extending their candidate pool for attracting talent, and sustaining retention which are paramount. It’s an ideal choice during good times as well as during a downturn.

Second Annual Signature Luncheon with Mira

“No one would exploit a child if there wasn't someone there to buy the services of that child.” These powerful words were spoken by award winning actress, Mira Sorvino. Sorvino was the keynote speaker at CREW Charlotte’s Second Annual Signature Luncheon.

On Wednesday, May 15th, Sorvino spoke to a crowd of 350 CREW members and guests about the atrocity that is human trafficking. Sorvino is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador who works tirelessly to combat human trafficking and slavery. She spoke about the work she has done and also about personal encounters she has had with victims. However, nothing was more compelling than the human trafficking survivor, “Katie” that joined Mira for the luncheon. "A lot of people have a stereotype of what they think a trafficker or a buyer looks like,” Katie said. “I want to blow that stereotype out of the water. I was sold to rich guys, poor guys, old guys, young guys, sold to some women. You know, you have the legislators, lawyers, cops, coaches, the guy that just lives down the street.”

Katie’s story brought many in the audience to tears. Although it is hard for her to tell her story, she is using it as a way to show others that human trafficking could be happening right in front of your face.

There are several organizations across our city and state that work to end human trafficking and slavery. If you want to learn more about how you can join the fight, you can click here. If you have any concern that a child you know is in danger, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.

Hype or Hope? The Blockchain “Revolution” and WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE Commercial Real Estate INDUSTRY

Submitted by Nichole Kelley, Wells Fargo Bank

At the April 2019 CREW Charlotte Luncheon, we heard from Pax Sinsangkeo with Winstead, who concentrates his practice in commercial real estate financing, commercial mortgage securitizations, asset-based lending, and related real estate and financial services transactions. He has represented major capital markets lending institutions and real estate investment companies in connection with the origination and servicing of commercial mortgage loans, credit facility loans, and multi-asset portfolio transactions. 

Blockchain technology, hailed as the great disruptor of financial markets, enterprise management and data privacy, is a distributed ledger of data and/or transactions that is maintained on a shared network.  On a blockchain, transactions are recorded chronologically, forming an immutable chain, and can be private or anonymous depending on how the technology is implemented.  The ledger is distributed across many participants in the network; it doesn’t exist in one place.  A block could represent transactions and data of many types, such as currency, digital rights, intellectual property, identity, or property titles, to name a few.

As CRE companies consider investing in a multitude of technologies to meet their varied business requirements, it is important to assess whether and where blockchain can be useful as the technology has its own unique characteristics and inefficiency in processes.  Benefits of blockchain include the possibility of near real-time settlement of transactions, eliminating the need to rush a wire to meet the Federal cutoff time, or delays in due diligence processes (i.e. confirming zoning status, legal description of properties, and any data requiring third party verification).  Additionally, blockchain technology is based on cryptographic proof, allowing any two parties to transaction directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.  This means borrowers and lenders or any other parties can work directly with each other without the need for counsel, escrow agents, or other centralized authorities to verify documents and information; ultimately, this would result in reduced transaction costs and faster execution times for any parties involved.  In addition to the cryptographic security, a blockchain contains a certain and verifiable record of every transaction ever made, which such record is stored among multiple sources (instead of a central authority), which mitigates the risk of fraud, abuse, and manipulation of transactions.

So how can blockchain be used in CRE?  Blockchain is disrupting subscription-based MLS services by allowing brokers, title companies, and appraisers to directly provide information about a property. In addition, a blockchain network can issue tokens or some other data to symbolize real estate rights – this would allow real estate developers and promoters greater access to capital as an alternate form of crowdfunding, and allow investors more liquidity in trading those interests (i.e. a fractional interest in a real estate property) and easier access to real estate ownership. The drawback is competing data from multiple sources may affect consistency and questions around who is validating the data.  Another example of how blockchain is disrupting CRE is the incremental standardization of land deed records to be immutable, making it easier to record deeds and mortgages, verify title insurance, and clarify property rights that may have been historically murkey.  The con is obtaining consensus as to incorrect deeds or chains of title.

While blockchain technology has significant potential to increase efficiency and cost savings for CRE owners and provide greater liquidity and transparency to the CRE market, there are still a number of shortcomings to consider.  Blockchain is susceptible to human error; if there are errors at the beginning of the block that are not identified for some time, who is liable and how can it be corrected?  Also, because it is such a new technology, a lot of the coders and blockchain developers may not be familiar with real estate processes and not accurately track data stored on there. Ultimately, CRE companies who are approached by blockchain companies may need to adopt a “wait and see” approach and perform their due diligence to see if their business truly has a need to incorporate such technology.

To see Pax’s presentation, please click here.

How to Get What You Want and Have Fun Doing It

Submitted by Becky Cheney, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin

Our January luncheon speaker provided a highly informative overview and tutorial on negotiations.   DeWitt F. (“Mac”) McCarley, currently an attorney with Parker Poe, provided the crowd with an entertaining explanation of the two basic methods of negotiation: collaborative versus competitive, and discussed strategies for each.  Some of the key principles discussed were understanding your opponent’s true motivation, the importance of asking questions, and defending attempts to “nibble the deal.”  Mac drew on his past as the City Attorney for the City of Charlotte, where he helped negotiate some of the area’s most impactful economic development initiatives in the last two decades. 

Brooklyn: Past, Present and Future

Submitted by Diana Quarry, Womble Bond Dickinson

On January 15, 2019, CREW Charlotte’s luncheon program featured speaker Monte Ritchey, Founder and President of Conformity Corporation and Principal of BK Partners LLC. Mr. Ritchey addressed a sold out crowd, and spoke about the history and cultural significance of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Charlotte. Brooklyn was a predominantly black community that thrived as a self-sustainable town within a town. With vibrant shops, schools and places of worship, Brooklyn was home to some of the black community’s families from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and housed critical operations for the community, including Second Ward High School, Charlotte’s first high school for African American children.  Unfortunately, during the 1960s and 1970s, Brooklyn was razed in Charlotte’s first wave of “urban renewal,” displacing thousands of neighborhood residents and ultimately destroying more than 1,480 structures.

BK Partners LLC, a venture spearheaded by Mr. Ritchey and business partner Don Peebles, was selected by Mecklenburg County to revitalize the area with its Brooklyn Village development.  Mr. Ritchey discussed the future and vision for Brooklyn Village, a mixed-use development that will include residential units (including affordable housing), office, retail, community and cultural spaces.  Mr. Ritchey discussed the important role that community outreach and honoring the history of Brooklyn played in putting together the master plan and vision for Brooklyn Village.