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Luncheon Summary

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:

May 2017 Luncheon – Leading a New Era of Development at Lincoln Harris: A Conversation With Johno Harris

Johno Harris, President of Lincoln Harris, joined CREW Charlotte on Tuesday, May 9th to discuss a wide range of topics including growing up around two of the city’s most iconic developers – his dad, Johnny Harris and his uncle, Smoky Bissell. He described the two with his dad being a visionary and front man to many prominent Charlotte developments and Smoky Bissell being the talent in structuring real estate deals and making the vision work financially.  Johno moved back to Charlotte after working for Fortress Investment Group for eight years in both New York and London and is now making his own mark on the City of Charlotte.

Johno described the company’s several mixed-use projects in and around the city as being very strategically located – Capitol Towers recently completed in SouthPark, Rea Farms south of I-485 and Providence Road, the River District near the airport, Southbridge just across the South Carolina border in Fort Mill, 24 acres in the University area, and the uptown project recently announced at the former Charlotte Observer building site. All are walkable, mixed-use developments that can often be very complicated with lengthy timeframes.

Johno mentioned that the company had been in talks with Bank of America, who is taking at least 500,000 square feet in the 33-story tower across from the stadium, from nearly the beginning. Hospitality, residential, and retail will come into play on the site but no specific details were confirmed.

Crescent Communities is partnering with Lincoln Harris on the River District project, a significant mixed-use community, with 8 million square feet of office, thousands of residences, and hundreds of acres preserved throughout. Crescent is also planning a development across from the Observer site uptown. When asked about managing that dynamic, Johno says that he hopes they build the project because, first and foremost, it is good for the City of Charlotte.

Johno was optimistic of the next two to three years as long as there is no geopolitical macro event that occurs. Since the repeal of HB2, companies are slowly coming back to Charlotte.

March 2017 Luncheon – A Conversation with Andrea Smith

Submitted by Ryan Ramey

Andrea Smith, Chief Administrative Officer at Bank of America, and the 2017 Charlotte Chamber Chairman joined CREW Charlotte on Tuesday, March 14th to share some thoughts about her career and what’s ahead for the business community and the City of Charlotte.

With nearly 30 years’ experience at Bank of America, Andrea Smith oversees several critical functions that support the strategic and operational foundation of the company. She is responsible for the overall global corporate strategy and managing the market presidents. She also leads global real estate services, global procurement, and supplier diversity. Her supplier diversity program has been recognized as one of the best in the country spending more than $2 billion each year with women and minority-owned businesses.

When asked about the success of her career, she attributed it to taking risks and not being afraid to take on new challenges. Andrea started her career out of college as a computer programmer for First RepublicBank Corp. and strongly believes in mentoring and bringing people along. Her commitment is solid as Bank of America and Vital Voices Global Partnership recently announced that they are bringing their Global Ambassadors Program to the U.S. The program is a week-long mentorship initiative, which will bring women leaders of small businesses and social enterprises from the Carolinas and around the world for mentoring and workshops.

Outside of the bank, Andrea Smith currently chairs the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. She hopes to broaden the chamber’s mission to be more inclusive and innovative. Her goal would be to bring more voices to the table to better represent Charlotte’s business community. “Gone are the days of the chamber being your grandfather’s chamber,” says Andrea. There is a new vision of a chamber that connects people, helps connect people to nonprofits, helps connect businesses to people and connects the work that’s going on all around Charlotte.

Andrea was named 2016 BusinessWoman of the Year, serves on the Board of Directors of both the Charlotte Ballet and the Charlotte Sports Foundation, was appointed to the Board of Trustees for Discovery Place, and is the 2017 Chairman of the Charlotte Chamber.

CREW Charlotte February 2017 Luncheon: Affordable Housing: Why it Matters to Everyone

Submitted by Robin Haddock

On February 14, CREW Charlotte hosted a panel of housing experts who provided an overview of affordable and workforce housing needs, and discussed challenges of meeting those demands in today’s real estate market.

Moderated by Robin Haddock of RLH Development, panelists Caroline Chambre Hammock of Urban Ministry Center, Liz Ward of The Housing Partnership and Tim Hose of Synco Properties provided an overview of those struggling to find housing that meets the definition of affordable – spending no more than 30% of gross income on rent and utilities – from the homeless to those working full time but earning less than Charlotte’s median income of $67,000 annually.

Ms. Hammock provided an overview of Housing First, a program aimed at ending chronic homelessness, that Urban Ministry Center has implemented at Moore Place, a 120-unit supportive housing development in Charlotte.  While construction and ongoing operations for Moore Place rely on grants and charitable donations, it has been documented that it costs just under $14,000 annually to provide housing and supportive services to a formerly homeless person that would otherwise cost tax payers nearly $40,000 per year for emergency room visits, incarceration, and other emergency services if left unhoused.   

Ms. Ward indicated that more than one-third of households in Charlotte can afford rents of only $900 or less, while the options for housing at that rent level are shrinking.  The Housing Partnership primarily relies on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and City of Charlotte Housing Trust Fund to close the gap created by offering affordable rents that can support much less conventional debt.

Synco Properties is in the planning stages of a total redevelopment of The Colony apartments in South Park.  Mr. Hose explained that his company has volunteered to offer 5%, or 55 units, out of the total 990 units to be developed as workforce housing, meaning they will be restricted to households earning 80% of the median income or less.  Synco Properties will receive no financial incentives for offering these units and, in fact, will lose $600,000 per year in revenue by voluntarily reducing the rents for these 55 units.

All the panelists agree that there are many barriers to providing affordable housing that is also well located near amenities, services, jobs and public transportation.  The costs and limited availability of land, a lack of adequate gap financing or other financial incentives, neighborhood opposition, and the time needed for rezoning and other regulatory reviews are among the issues faced by developers.

The topic of affordable housing has been at the forefront in Charlotte recently, and our panelists hope that the conversations and problem-solving continues.  For those interested in learning more about the struggle to adequately house all members of our community, the following resources might be of interest:

Books: “The Hundred Story Home” by Kathy Izard; “Same Kind of Different as Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore; “Nickled and Dimed – On (Not) Getting by in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich; “Rachel and Her Children” by Jonathan Kozoland; and “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond.

Video: “Souls of our Neighbors” – A video discussing facts and myths about affordable housing in Charlotte.  Produced by MeckMin, the video is available for purchase online.  The trailer can be seen at:

Crisis Assistance Ministry offers a Poverty Simulation workshop that provides an opportunity to walk in the shoes of low-income individuals and the hard economic choices they face.  More information is available at


CREW Charlotte January 2017 Luncheon: Got WELL?: A Holistic Approach to Wellness in Your Office

Submitted by Holly Alexander

On January 10, Nancy Everhart of Little and Molly Fowler of Wells Fargo Bank kicked off CREW Charlotte’s 2017 year by introducing how to incorporate wellness into your workspace.  They used the WELL Building Institute’s wellness program developed by Delos and the USGBC as the basis of their discussion.  Nancy discussed four design strategies used in this certification: Active Design, Biophilic Design, Restoration Space, and Circadian Rhythm.  Some of these methods include making stairwells more accessible and desirable with paint and better signage, repositioning how you use the tools in your workspace, turning your computer to face a window, and simply standing up every 30 minutes.  Molly discussed the seven categories of measurement used in obtaining the actual WELL Building Certification.  The bank currently has 5 pilot projects across the country pursuing WELL Building Certification.  The seven categories include Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind.  Providing healthier food and drink options in vending machines, cleaning with green cleaners, lowering cube walls to increase light and exposure to the outdoors, and creating alternative areas to work are all items they are using in obtaining this certification.  We encourage you to visit the website to learn of some ways you can incorporate wellness into your workspace! Please visit or click here for more information.

CREW Charlotte 2016 Excellence Awards

CREW Charlotte celebrated an exciting 2016 at the final luncheon of the year on December 13. We spent the afternoon recapping the successes of 2016 and honoring our members and leaders. The program was accompanied by a live tweet wall that enabled our members to celebrate the accomplishments live via Twitter.  Seven members were presented awards for their outstanding contributions. The awards and winners exemplify what CREW Charlotte embodies in promoting women in leadership in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.  And the winners are:

Rising Star – Mellissa Oliver of LandDesign

Networker of the Year – Dawn Royle of Investors Title

Outreach Award – Carrie Sharp of Indoff, Inc., Nancy Olah of Nancy Olah Law, and Sharon Reed for their work on the Inaugural women’s leadership program, Becoming an Authentic Leader.

Member of the Year – Emily Buehrer of BLOC Design

Presidents Choice – Robin Haddock of RLH Development and Anna O’Neal of Wells Fargo

Deal of the Year – For their work on the Johnston Allison and Hord refinance –  Primax Properties, Parker Poe, Fortenberry Lambert, South State Bank and Investors Title.

In addition to recognizing these tremendous achievements, CREW Charlotte made a donation of $5,000 to Community Building Initiative of Charlotte, NC.

CREW Charlotte November 2016 Luncheon – Commercial Mortgage Back Securities (CMBS) Loans

Submitted by Virginia Luther and Nichole Kelley

What You Missed: Commercial Mortgage Back Securities (CMBS) Loans

Next month there is a new rule coming to the structure of CMBS loans.  But, how with this affect us?
CMBS loans are a type of mortgage-backed security backed by commercial mortgages rather than residential real estate.  CMBS tend to be more complex and volatile than residential mortgage-backed securities due to the unique nature of the underlying property assets.  CMBS are bonds created from pools of loans secured by commercial real estate mortgages; each pool of loans is aggregated into a single trust or securitization.  The securitizations are diversified by geography, property type, borrowers and tenant exposure.  Most of these loans have 10 year terms meaning there is a large group of loans that were originated in 2007 and are maturing in 2017. Now that commercial real estate is back up and interest rates are low, there is a healthy amount of capital available to invest.  80-85% of these loans that are maturing are able to refinance successfully.
Why might borrowers migrate to other sources other than CMBS loans?
1.      The market was artificially overstated and distorted in 2007
2.      Regulations are now making CBMS loans less cost effective
What happens when a borrower defaults and there is a foreclosure due to breach of contract?
–        A receiver comes in to stabilize the asset. Through utilization of the lender’s funds, the receiver reports directly on his/her progress to the court system. Loans rarely go back to the initial borrower and often have complicated maintenance structures, which makes the process of maintaining an asset challenging with layered approvals.
On December 24, 2016, Risk Retention occurs for CMBS loans. How does that impact borrowers?
–        Requires a 5% credit risk retention on the sponsor of the securities.
–        Positives: Everyone wants a good experience so sponsors work hard to keep those loans beneficial for all parties. Heavy regulations mean focus on security of all parties and keeps things honest (i.e. airlines, telecom, etc.)
–        Negative: Lose some competitive leverage due to the regulations. More regulations = more expense. Therefore, borrowers will likely pay a higher interest rate.
Does the election affect this?
–        It can. As government increases, so does its role in regulations. As well, change in power causes market volatility. If one party holds all the power, change can be more easily put into effect.


CREW Charlotte October 2016 Luncheon – Recent Developments in Charlotte

Submitted by Kathleen Chambers


Who You Missed:
    Chris Daly, Childress Klein
    Kristy Venning, Beacon Partners
    Brendan Pierce, Keith Corp
    Moderator: Allen Clark, Charlotte Business Journal


What You Missed:
Program focused on recent significant commercial real estate developments in Charlotte:

Industrial space – Childress Klein:
•    Examples
Jordan Food Service. 360,000 sq ft distribution center with 150,000 sq ft of refrigerated storage
Afton Ridge.  Started as 125,000 sq ft but is now 300,000 sq ft. 
•    Changes in industrial warehouse development. The facilities are much larger now to allow for larger trucks, significant need for onsite storage. Facilities require lots of land and lots of paving. 
•    Incentives for industrial are different between NC and SC. In SC, the tax rate is higher and so incentives are needed to build on that side of the border. Challenge in NC is lack of space in the Greater Charlotte area.
•    Daly has seen the turn towards larger spaces and longer term leases and so they develop to meet the need
Office Space in NC – Beacon Partners
•    Example – 1616 Camden, South End
•    Big changes in demographics going forward brought big changes in needs
•    The millennial work force favors the urban infill experience
•    Less square footage per person required 
•    Explosive demand for open office with exposed structural elements: less me, more we
•    More interest in creating the customer experience
•    Venning predicts that they will not do spec building in the near future

Office Space in SC – Keith Corporation
•    Example: Mortgage Company in Lancaster County. Aided in consolidating the company to one space requiring development of a 100,000 sq ft facility that was augmented during the consolidation
•    Spaces are now amenity driven. Their experience is that the amenities can come to the employees when you build them in to the facility. 
•    Benefits to building in SC because land is available.
•    Lower square footage per employee with new construction. 
•    Noted that rates in SouthPark have increased and new construction is finally underway.
•    Pierce noted that NC has a problem with incentives. There is no cohesiveness to attracting companies to NC. Our competitor states are much better at attracting business through economic incentives.