Henry Faison, one of Charlottes most prolific developers who built landmarks such as Eastland Mall and Northlake Mall, died suddenly at his office Friday. Faison was 78.
A legend among local commercial real estate developers, Faison started his career building shopping centers and expanded to office and industrial parks and, more recently, apartment complexes.
Perhaps less known was Faisons love of hunting and fishing and his passionate rebuilding of natural habitat and a local quail population at a former rice plantation he bought in South Carolina, friends say.
In the last eight years, he was there whenever he wasnt building shopping centers, said childhood friend and former U.S. Rep. Alex McMillan, who was 6 years old when he met Faison, then 4.
It is out of his love of wildlife and hunting that he wanted to restore the property to its peak of balance, said McMillan, who called Faison a supportive, generous and humble friend.
Friends and co-workers say Faison was a hard worker, hard charging and not afraid to express his opinion.
Speaking about Faison and his death, veteran office developer Smoky Bissell said: A good friend, an outstanding career, a shocking loss for our community.
Faison started his company, Faison & Associates, in the 1960s. In 1975, he built Eastland Mall, followed by dozens of shopping centers in the Carolinas. He diversified into developing office buildings, including One Independence Center uptown and 121 West Trade, where his firm remains headquartered.
His firm also oversaw SouthPark malls $100 million expansion.
In 1998, Faison sold his company to Trammell Crow Co. for $39.1 million. Four years later, he bought back the retail development business.
This year, Faisons company announced it would develop apartment complexes and currently has $340 million in projects under way.
Faison Enterprises president and chief executive, Philip Norwood, said Faisons death, which he believes may be due to a coronary, was unexpected. Faison had always been the picture of health, he said.
The company is set up to continue without its founder, Norwood said.
It was the wish of the founder that our business continuity is not in question, he said.
I think Henry was a very, very focused businessman with an enormous work ethic and extremely high integrity, Norwood said. A man of great character, a man of great resolve.
Funeral arrangements were not available as of early Friday evening.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less