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Luncheon Summary

Girl on the Train: Exploring the Northeast Corridor Transit-Oriented Development

Submitted by Stacia Neugent, GreerWalker

The Lynx Blue Line began servicing passengers in March of 2018. It extended light rail service from uptown Charlotte’s Seventh Street Station to the UNCC campus in the University City area. The extension of the light rail has created great opportunities for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). This development was the focus of CREW Charlotte’s June luncheon, “The Girl on the Train.”

Alan Goodwin, planning coordinator and urban designer with the City of Charlotte, opened the luncheon by discussing what makes an area qualify as a TOD. The requirements are counterintuitive to other residential developments – there are minimum requirements for density and maximum requirements for parking spaces.

Darlene Heater, executive director of University City Partners, spoke next and discussed some of the benefits that the University City area has to offer. There are several strong anchors such as the Atrium hospital and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte that make the University City area a prime spot for development. Darlene said that the focus is currently on making the area more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. This will be key in supporting the residential aspect of the upcoming mixed-use developments.

Jane Wu, president of Panorama Holdings, was the final speaker at the luncheon. Jane discussed her recent project, Blu at Northline. This upscale apartment complex is unlike anything else in the University area. It offers luxuries and amenities similar to those found in Uptown and Southend. Jane discussed how she wanted to do something that was completely different, and it seems that she hit the mark with the Blu at Northline project. The project is already exceeding expectations for number of leases and price per square foot.

One thing is for sure, the transit-oriented development occurring along the light rail is going to be something to keep an eye on in the upcoming weeks, months and years.

Signature Luncheon with Erin Brockovich

Submitted by Diana Quarry, Womble Bond Dickinson

On May 15, CREW Charlotte held its first Signature Luncheon.  The event, held at The Westin in uptown Charlotte, was attended by over 400 CREW members and guests.  The event began with opening remarks from Chapter President Adrienne Bain and a welcome from Kara McShane, Head of Commercial Real Estate Capital Markets and Finance with Wells Fargo Bank, the event’s Presenting Sponsor.  WBTV’s Molly Grantham then took the stage to welcome the event’s keynote speaker, Erin Brockovich.  

A dynamic and engaging speaker, Brockovich told the audience about her personal journey that led her to the position as a clerk at a California law firm that made her famous, and where she has been since.  She spoke about the critical role that her parents and education played in her life, learning to work through personal challenges and the value of determination and stick-to-itiveness.  Brockovich discussed her continuing role as an advocate for clean water in communities across the nation, and trends she is seeing on a local and national level.  She also discussed the guidelines of Realization, Assessment and Motivation as a tool for anyone in any industry or walk of life to take stock of who they are, what they have, and how they can leverage their skills and abilities to effectuate change in their own lives. 

Guests of Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo and Supporting Sponsors TH Real Estate and Northeastern University were also able to meet with the speaker before the formal program began for some additional remarks and an opportunity to chat and take pictures with Brockovich.

The Impact of Tax Reform on the Commercial Real Estate Industry

Submitted by Stacia Neugent, GreerWalker

In December of 2017, Congress passed the first major overhaul of the United States tax code in over 30 years. At CREW Charlotte’s April luncheon, Bobbi Jo Lazarus of Elliott Davis and Stacia Neugent of GreerWalker discussed with attendees the impacts of tax reform on both businesses and individuals alike.

Margaret Martin of CBC Meca opened the luncheon by discussing how tax reform was intended to provide simplification but this wasn’t necessarily the case for all taxpayers. Changes such as the increased standard deduction, lower tax rates and an increased threshold for Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) may actually simplify tax return filing for many individuals. However, for individuals with ownership of pass-through entities such as partnerships or S-corporations, this simplicity will likely be offset by the complexity of a new Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction.

For business entities, presenters focused on the newly created interest expense limitation and the increased three year holding period for carried interests – interests in a partnership that are often issued to investment managers in exchange for the services they provide. Additionally, owners of businesses will need to consider the change in the deductibility of entertainment expenses.

The presenters emphasized that there is still a lot of clarification needed regarding many of the new tax provisions. With all of the uncertainty, there are still several opportunities for planning surrounding the new tax laws. One thing is for certain, you should consult your tax advisor to determine the impact to you and your business.

You can see a summary of some of some of the most applicable tax changes here.

York County, SC on Top- Driving Economic Development and Jobs Growth

Submitted by Amy Massey, PE, Kimley-Horn

York County, located just south of the border within the Charlotte metro area, is going through tremendous population and economic growth. Ranked #1 in jobs growth in the US in 2017, the community is focused on having a prepared location for jobs, investment, economic diversity, and balanced quality of life. David Swenson, Executive Director of York County Economic Development, shared information about the County’s public-private approach to efforts in both industrial and office product that has resulted in recent announcements and expansions worth $100 million in capital investment and 1,200 jobs.

And forget what you thought you knew about Rock Hill, York County’s largest municipality. Stephen Turner, Director of Rock Hill Economic & Urban Development, shared that Rock Hill is embracing change and has allowed the younger generations to play a role in how they want their city to grow. Hannah Spruill, Marketing Coordinator, explained how young professionals are encouraged to get involved and take ownership in the future of Rock Hill. The City’s core is quickly becoming a place where young professionals and college students can thrive socially, professionally, and personally. They still have access to the benefits of Charlotte close by, but there are more and more reasons to stay in Rock Hill.

Both York County and Rock Hill also spoke about growth challenges looking ahead, such as workforce development and strategic infrastructure; as well as future opportunities, such as marketing, regionalism, and leveraging existing businesses.

For more information, visit www.yorkcountyed.com and/or www.rockhillusa.com.

The Girl with the Draggin' W-2

Submitted by Tricia Brauer
On January 9th, Wells Fargo Bank economist Sarah House kicked off the 2018 year with a discussion on the gender pay gap in commercial real estate. Entitled “The Girl with the Draggin’ W-2,” House’s talk expanded on the widely cited statistic that a woman make eighty (80) cents for every dollar that a man makes by honing in on the multi-faceted nature of the pay gap between men and women. Research cited by House, including the best practices for gender equity and inclusion in commercial real estate study completed last year by the CREW Network, highlighted Experience, Occupation, Industry and Education as critical factors in explaining and addressing the gender pay gap.

In relation to the “Experience” factor, House discussed the “Mommy Penalty”  as one of the key components that illustrate why women are still earning less than men. Specifically, the fact that however brief, greater time spent by women out of the labor force and fewer hours worked slows their accumulation of skills and that childcare considerations and associated costs clearly take a toll on workforce participation rates of mothers with young children. Married mothers employed full time still spend roughly an hour more per day on housework and family care related to married fathers. From an “Occupation” standpoint, House highlighted differences in industry and occupation as the largest cause of variation in pay, and stated that such differences explain roughly fifty percent (50%) of the gender wage gap.  For example, men are 5x more likely to be engineers while women are 9x more likely to be receptionists and women are overrepresented in education and health services and are underrepresented in construction and manufacturing. No matter what the disparity is in occupation and industry representation, men are still earning more than women in nearly every occupation, including traditionally female jobs. There is at least some solace to be had in the grim statistics brought to the forefront by House’s presentation. Women are now out-achieving men on the “Education” front,. House made it a point to emphasize that the pay gap would be roughly six percent (6%) larger if the converse was true. Despite the critical progress made in deconstructing the gender pay gap, thirty-eight percent (38%) still remains unexplained.

“It isn’t just women that stand to benefit from pay equity,” House stated. From stronger company performance and corporate oversight, boosted sales and profits, and a reduction in employee turnover and associated costs, company performance also stands to benefit from women being on more equal footing with men.  Accordingly, both businesses and governments can alter existing policies to further narrow the gender pay gap. Some of these policy solutions include training and awareness, transparency about pay, parental leave – especially paternity leave, childcare tax credits/assistance, difference in tax treatment of a secondary income earner, minimum wage increases and longer school days.

A full copy of House’s presentation is available here.

2017 CREW Charlotte Excellence Awards with Molly Grantham

Submitted by Robin Haddock

CREW Charlotte celebrated the accomplishments of the organization and its members at the final luncheon of the year on December 12. As a special treat this year, Molly Grantham, Emmy-winning news anchor and investigative reporter with WBTV, emceed the awards ceremony. Molly also shared about her struggle to find a healthy balance between personal and professional life, the topic of her recently published book “Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom.” 

Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom is more than just parenting. Yes, it’s the endless exhaustion of changing diapers, how breastfeeding isn’t always what people say it’s cracked up to be, inappropriate fashion choices from a 6-year-old daughter, posts about a son’s helmet therapy, disastrous moments when beloved stuffed toys go missing, and travel horrors when kids go nuclear on an airplane… but the book has life lessons that can apply to any woman juggling so many balls in life, she simply misses herself.”

You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Park Road Books… or on www.mollygrantham.com

President Jessica Rossi then joined Molly on stage to present awards to deserving CREW Charlotte members who have significantly contributed to promoting women in leadership in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.  And the winners are:

Rising Star – Angie Beard of Studio Fusion

Networker of the Year – Robin Turner of O’Leary Group Waste

Outreach Award – Adrienne Bain of Citizens Bank

Member of the Year – Ryan Ramey of Lincoln Harris

Presidents Choice – Molly Carroll of Trinity Partners

Deal of the Year – For their work on the Bank of the Ozarks Harrisburg bank branch, Cindy Wolfe of Bank of the Ozarks and her team of CREW Charlotte members, Wanda Townsend formerly with Johnston Allison and Hord, Kelly Ashman with Morehead Title, Kim Marks with Progressive AE (formerly ai Design Group), Amy Massey with Kimley Horn, Melissa Oliver with Land Design, and Holly Alexander with New South Properties.

And new in 2017, Men Empowering Women – Mike Schrum of Terracon Consultants, Inc.

Congratulations to all our deserving 2017 award recipients!

Brownfield Redevelopment and Community Revitalization

Submitted by Diana Quarry

CREW Charlotte members gathered on November 14, 2017 for a discussion of the North Carolina Brownfields Program, and learned how developers are utilizing the program to restore and breathe new life into previously contaminated areas of Charlotte.  The panel of speakers included Joselyn Harriger, a project manager with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Susan Cooper, an environmental law attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, and Brett Phillips, Executive Vice President with Lincoln Harris.  The panel was moderated by CREW Charlotte board member Christie Zawtocki, Principal at Hart & Hickman, PC.

The Brownfields Program serves as an effective tool in encouraging developers to undertake a clean-up of a contaminated site and redevelop the property to serve the needs of the Charlotte community. As Ms. Harriger discussed, developers who take advantage of the Program by entering into a Brownfields Agreement with the DEQ receive liability protection indefinitely (which passes along to future owners of the property, increasing the marketability of a property) and steep tax cuts for five years after development on the property begins. In exchange for these benefits, the developer agrees to remove contaminants for the property and complete an agreed-upon scope of remediation at the site to ensure it is safe for occupancy. The Brownfields Agreement will also impose certain land use restrictions on the property, which vary from site to site depending on the type of contamination that was present. For example, Ms. Cooper indicated that if a property has groundwater contamination, a Brownfields Agreement may likely state that the site cannot be used for a school, daycare facility, or certain residential uses, even once the developer completes the required remediation on the site. Despite these restrictions, Ms. Cooper discussed how the economic incentives can still make a project appealing to developers who may otherwise be deterred from assuming ownership of a contaminated property.

Mr. Phillips discussed how Lincoln Harris was recently able to leverage the benefits of the Program in connection with their new Legacy Union project, located at the old Charlotte Observer site. Having been used for printing operations for years, Lincoln Harris (which is redeveloping the site in partnership with Goldman Sachs) knew that there could be significant contamination from ink at the property.  Mr. Phillips and Ms. Harriger, who acted as the project manager for Legacy Union, worked together for nearly a year on the project.  They first established the project’s eligibility to participate in the Program, and worked through the terms of the Brownfields Agreement. Mr. Phillips discussed how the tax incentives that the Program offered made the redevelopment feasible and economically attractive.

Old Places, New Spaces: The Redevelopment of the North Tryon Corridor

On October 10, 2017, pioneers Matt Browder, Principal of Browder Group Real Estate and Jay Levell, co-founder of White Point Partners, held a lively discussion on their recent purchases of the 2205 N. Tryon building and Tompkins Hall.  They shared with us their initial vision, the challenges they faced, and the success they have had in activating the properties, both of which had long been vacant.

Specifically, Browder saw 2205 N. Tryon as an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. The 85,000 square feet of vacant buildings sits in the center of the proposed North Tryon Street one-way corridor plan. With all of the growth in Charlotte, Browder really saw this area of North Charlotte as the last frontier. As surrounding rents continue to increase, 2205 N. Tryon has been able to accommodate tenants at lower rates.

White Point Partners had a unique vision for Tompkins Hall. The project started with an idea to turn an old textile mill, built in the 1890’s, into a food hall with additional space for restaurants, retail, and office. The project, when complete, will include all of the original pine and hardwoods. The food hall will be approximately 20,000 square feet with 19 separate stalls for food vendors and a 10,000 square foot seating area and terrace. In addition to the original food hall, the project also includes another 83,000 square feet of creative office that has already been leased to Duke Energy. The access to the light rail and the major highways made this an ideal location. Duke Energy's "forward-thinking vision" matched the firms' intention of creating a center of collaboration and innovation at Tompkins Hall.

Both projects have taken existing buildings and created a new sense of place. Pure Intentions Coffee, located in the 2205 N. Tryon building, will be the host for our December Before Hours event. Come join us in supporting this new business venture and concept on December 7th.

August 2017 Luncheon – A Tour of 615 South College

At our August Luncheon we toured 615 South College – an 18-story, 371,000 square-foot Class-A office building in downtown Charlotte. The building is a tribute to the world-renowned John Portman & Associates and developed by Portman Holdings. The two-story corner balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows provide amazing views of Charlotte’s uptown skyline as well as nearby South End. Amenities include an outdoor green space that connects the building to Stonewall Station – downtown’s first light rail stop and also home to uptown’s first Whole Foods opening later this year.

John Ball, the leasing agent with Trinity Partners, spoke to the group about the building’s first tenants including Regions Bank, co-working giant WeWork, Eric Mower and Associates, Sitehands, and global accounting firm BDO. 615 South College is just steps away from the city’s professional sports arenas, parks, and the Charlotte Convention Center, and built atop the parking deck of the Portman-developed and owned Westin Charlotte.

June 2017 Luncheon РCross Charlotte Trail ─ Creating Economic and Community Value

Submitted by Amy Massey, Kimley-Horn

On June 13, CREW Charlotte hosted a panel of experts who provided an overview of the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT) in Mecklenburg County, and an understanding of its importance to our local commercial real estate industry. Moderated by Beth Poovey of LandDesign, panelists Vivian Coleman of the Charlotte Department of Transportation, Elizabeth McMillan of Crescent Communities, and Kyle Vangel of HR&A Advisors discussed how greenways benefit our communities and attract business by creating recreational opportunities, transportation alternatives, and return on investment─ both public and private.

The story begins back in 2006 when Little Sugar Creek was buried by a series of surface parking lots in the Midtown area.

Coleman provided an overview of how the Cross Charlotte Trail came about. She said the County took the initial lead in trail development, and then the City got involved to help speed up the XCLT’s development. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has also been involved. The plan is to complete 30 miles of trail from Pineville, through Uptown to UNC Charlotte, and ending near the Cabarrus County line√¢‚Äù‚Ǩ within the next decade or so. Coleman reviewed the various types, widths, and uses of greenways; along with some of the challenges and constraints, including separation from motorized vehicles for safety and seamless connectivity. The priorities placed on certain sections is based on balancing factors such as filling existing gaps and leveraging hot development areas, while more difficult/expensive sections√¢‚Äù‚Ǩ like the segment spanning the I-277/Independence Boulevard weaver area√¢‚Äù‚Ǩ will come later.

Vangel explored the impact of greenways on economic development. Beyond joy, health, and public safety, the value of greenways can be quantified in terms of increased property value and in property tax value. In fact, value was a key criterion in deciding the ultimate alignment of the Trail. Its alignment traverses neighborhoods ranging from affluent areas near Uptown to more challenged areas like Lockwood and Sugar Creek. Mr. Vangel suggested that with increasing values, the potential for gentrification can be minimized by putting proactive policies in place with a goal to preserve and create affordable housing along the way. Overall, the fiscal impact of the trail could be as high as $12.9 million annually between 6,000 new residential units, 4 million square feet of new commercial development space, and a 5% increase in property value.

McMillian explained how Crescent Communities views view greenways, in that they actually seek out properties along/near the Trail alignment when locating their sites. She used the Crescent Dilworth as a prime example of their capitalizing on the greenway as the ‘front door,’ including an image of a bicycle and mention of its accessibility to the greenway in its marketing brochure. Not only is the greenway a major asset for attracting their tenants, but the development has realized a 15% rent premium due to its proximity to the greenway. McMillan and Coleman discussed the importance of the City, County, NCDOT, property owners, and developers working together√¢‚Äù‚Ǩ sharing and working through design and construction scheduling, property needs, and costs.

The panel established that the Cross Charlotte Trail has a powerful impact on our communities and businesses on many levels. In the end, it will be important in not only providing recreational opportunities, but also in spurring development, increasing property and tax values, and connecting people and places across Mecklenburg County√¢‚Äù‚Ǩ all in a socially equitable manner. It’s also helping Charlotte compete with other growing cities on a national scale.

Learn more at: http://charlottenc.gov/charlottefuture/CIP/Pages/CrossCharlotteTrail.aspx