Heavy Hitters: Spotlight on Tony Pressley’s South End legacy, plus 18 recent development projects, at real estate awards
The Charlotte Business Journal honored the top commercial and residential real estate projects across the Charlotte metro area in its third annual Heavy Hitters event Wednesday evening.
Eighteen projects that were substantially completed between June 30, 2015, and July 1, 2016, were recognized across several categories: office, flex, warehouse, healthcare, mixed-use, apartment, commercial space buildout, and hospitality and entertainment. Also recognized was Tony Pressley, former CEO of MECA Real Estate Services, who was this year’s recipient of the Pillar Award, a lifetime service achievement award.
Pressley, now retired, spent his career on real estate projects throughout Charlotte. But his legacy is in South End, the name which he coined in the 1990s, and the neighborhood’s rebirth over the past 20 years that has made it one of Charlotte’s most popular and vibrant communities.
“After hearing what I’m hearing and seeing what’s going on, I am convinced the industry is in great hands going forward, despite the community’s and the state’s recent setbacks,” Pressley said Wednesday evening at Myers Park Country Club.
He said the South End rebirth story was one that took decades to be realized and dozens of stakeholders and members of the community who decided they wanted to instigate change in the South Boulevard corridor, which had fallen into disrepair, and make it a thriving neighborhood once again.
“It looks like it was about $2 billion of economic redevelopment all up and down (that) business corridor,” he said. “What a success story that has been. It’s truly one of the great urban renewal stories of America.”
Pressley said a number of individuals and groups — including city, county and state leadership at the time — were instrumental in effecting change through text amendments, land-use changes, transportation solutions, reducing the area’s crime problems and even new environmental laws by way of brownfields legislation.
South End was the first brownfields project in North Carolina in 1996, an initiative Pressley spearheaded to take old industrial buildings that had contamination and environmental problems but could be cleaned up and reused. Hundreds of brownfields projects have since popped up across the state.
Pressley listed a number of people who helped made South End the success story it has become.
“We had no large corporate sponsors,” Pressley said. “People like D.A. Tompkins, who built Atherton Mill. William Nebel of Nebel Hoseiry Mill. Stuart Cramer of Parks-Cramer Co. Philip Lance of Lance Crackers. F.C. Abbot of Wilmore. They were the first generation of South End business pioneers, the creative class who distinguished South End as an area of innovation, creativity and design.”
A full Heavy Hitters report is in CBJ‘s Friday’s edition — look for more on this year’s honorees in print copies and online. The projects and key players (developers, architects and contractors) recognized Wednesday night are as follows:
- Carolina Place in Fort Mill — Beacon Partners; Merriman Schmitt Architects; Choate Construction
- Concord Airport Business Park — The Silverman Group; Merriman Schmitt Architects; InterCon Building Corp.