Welcome to The CREative Thinkers Awards

Most awards are specific, even technically oriented, and are clearly within the boundaries of one industry. The Carolinas Chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate's CREative Thinkers Awards, as the name suggests, is about the way a leader thinks, so it is much broader in scope than most awards. We believe that is fitting, because what a society builds affects the way we live, work and play. The Creative Thinkers Award is for thinking not bricks and mortar per se. That is a distinction that makes us unique and the event memorable for the honoree. We show the result (i.e. the project) but focus on the vision, and the impact on people's lives.

The 9th Annual 2017 CREative Thinkers Awards

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Carmel Country Club, Charlotte, NC

The Carolinas Chapter of CRE signature event is our annual CREative Thinkers Awards, which have become a coveted prize for those in the Carolinas who exhibit creative thinking in the de-velopment of a real estate related project or program, which is a catalyst for change, and has a lasting impact on people’s lives. This event has won national recognition and these prestigious awards are presented before an audience that includes about 200 individuals—making beneficial connections—from Commer-cial Real Estate, Finance, Government, Business & Industry ,and Academia.

2017 CTA Honorees

  • William (Billy) R. Hughes, Loray Mill Village, Gastonia, NC
  • Dave Williams & Mark Mathers – Riverwalk, Rock Hill, SC and
  • Elliott Close & Colby Mosier – The Pump House, Fort Mill, SC
  • Michael Goodmon & Adam Klein – American Underground, Raleigh & Durham, NC

Focus & Drive

A focus and drive to accomplish something special combined with the conviction that it will work and the risks are acceptable.

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Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Out-of-the box or leading edge thinking in terms of tradition or generally accepted norms.

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Game Changers

Persons that are responsible for paradigm shifts, as evidenced by a sea of imitators that follow.

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Inspiration of the Creative Thinkers Awards came in early 2008, Loren Kennedy, CRE came to a meeting of the Carolinas Chapter of the CRE™ in Charlotte. Frank Warren, CRE™, the chapter Chair, and Buck Moody, CRE™, had set an agenda to focus on developing a new chapter activity. Loren's proposal for an annual CTA or CREative Thinkers Awards event was unanimously chosen by the attendees.

Winners are individuals, not projects alone, who are recognized at an annual luncheon, with attendance growing from one hundred in 2008 to almost two hundred in 2014.

The categories are open to our imaginations. We look for creative thinking across all professions that touch commercial real estate. We have honored the obvious: developers, corporate CEOs, and architects. But we have also honored the Chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners for her leadership in public policy that has effected construction. We acknowledged the non-profit organization Victory Garden for its innovation in moral boosting of gravely ill children. We have no boundaries on categories.

Creative Thinkers Award Winners

These awards are aimed at honoring leaders who touch commercial real estate by exhibiting out-of-the-box thinking; viewing obstacles and risks as opportunities for novel solutions; making cutting-edge decisions or deciding something that resulted in a paradigm shift on a subject with a local, regional, or global impact.

CTA 2016 Honorees

John Bell, Alan McGuinn, and Rick Grant

Michael Tarwater & Carol Lovin

Jim Goodmon

CTA 2015 Honorees

Don Beaver, Dan Rajkowski, Michael Smith

Dr. Murray Brockman

Geoffrey Curme


David Murdock

Bill Nichols and Pamela Davis

Bob Hughes

CTA 2013 Honorees

Dr. Ronald Carter

Jerry Orr

Dr. Ruth Shaw

Dr. Michael Marsicano


Ted Rollins, CEO and Mike Hartnett, Chief Investment Officer - Campus Crest Communities
for their innovative $400 million IPO financing and national roll-out of a new breed of student housing. They gave up on banks, hired Raymond James Investment Banking, and found the general public more than willing to finance their vision of home-style apartments for university and college students.

Dr. Philip DuBois, Chancellor - University of North Carolina - Charlotte
for his vision and orchestration of the development of the downtown UNC-Charlotte City Center Campus, which anchored the rebirth of a multi-block area in the First Ward.

Kyle & Pattie Petty, Founders, and Stephen Overcash, Owner - Overcash Demmitt Architects
for a breathtaking park development and camp for gravely ill children.

2011 CTA Winners

H.C. "Smoky" Bissell, Chairman and Ned Curran, President and CEO - The Bissell Companies
for their development of a suburban office park.

Dr. Larry Wheeler, Director - N.C. Museum of Art
for innovative interior design and use of natural light.

John Kane, Chairman - Kane Realty Corporation
for the transformational redevelopment of North Hills Center.

Ken Beuley, CFO & Director of Development and Alan Lewis, Industrial & Office Development Partner - The Keith Corporation
for cutting edge industrial development.

2010 CTA Winners

Noah Lazes, President & COO and Rick Lazes, CEO - ARK Group
for the adaptive reuse of a downtown textile mill into the NC Music Factory in Charlotte, NC. This live, work and play redevelopment incorporates a Hilton Hotel, offices, restaurants and the now-popular Time Warner Uptown Amphitheater.

David Bowles, Founder & President - Environmental Services
for his LEED certified redevelopment of an entire 20-year old abandoned two-story, 70,000 square foot structure.

Jennifer Roberts, Chair - Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
for the public policies she championed that led to emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility for projects like the Freedom Center. This county redevelopment project transformed a portion of a 1970s era shopping center into a 100,000 square foot phase 1 office building. The project incorporated cutting-edge renewable energy elements such as an experimental ice thermal storage system and a grid-tied photo voltaic system.

Keith Pehl, CEO - Optima Engineering
for his renovation of his 16,000 square foot office building to Platinum Level LEED certification.

Greg Hatem, President - Empire Properties
for creative service in redeveloping downtown Raleigh.

2008 CTA Honorees

John Boylan, President - Spectrum Properties
for his redevelopment of an obsolete downtown office building into a Class A condominium. This uncommon recycling of an old structure found an engineering solution to building around a 12,000 square foot MCI switching center in the core of the building. The condominiums breathed new life into a block that was unappealing.

Steve Navarro, CRE, President - The Furman Company
for LEEDS certified building: the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research is an advanced-technology research campus here education, research, and economic development collaborate to create a global venue for the automotive industry.

Monty Ritchie, President - Conformity Corporation
for the public/private partnership, Southborough. This admirable project wrapped an urban Lowe's store with new residential units in a redeveloping neighborhood. This project set a national precedent for incorporating big box retail stores into urban centers in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Mr. Ritchie shared his award with Richard Petersheim, partner at Land Design.

Bob Bertges, Senior Vice President - Corporate Real Estate
for Wachovia Bank for their marvelous 1.4 million square foot trophy mixed-use office tower in downtown Charlotte. This signature corporate headquarters development incorporated the Bechtler Art Museum, the Knight Theatre, the African-American Cultural Center, the Mint Museum, 300 luxury condominiums, and many retail stores.

Contact us to learn more, for sponsorship opportunities or to nominate someone.