CREative Thinkers Awards


The Carolinas Chapter of the CRE is proud to have recognized and honored individuals who have displayed creative thinking in their approach to real estate.

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.



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 homestyle 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.


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.


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.



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 the LEEDS certified Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, an advanced-technology research campus where 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.