Real estate awards honor creative projects

By Ely Portillo

The EpiCentre’s white knight, the forces behind uptown’s ball park and two education officials were honored this week as “CREative Thinkers” at the Counselors of Real Estate’s annual award ceremony.

(Yes, you read that correctly: The uppercase CRE stands for Commercial Real Estate).

The honorees included:

▪ Geoffrey Curme, managing director of Mount Vernon Asset Management: His company bought the EpiCentre out of bankruptcy, spruced the place up, sorted out long-standing legal disputes and permitting problems, and sold the complex to Los Angeles-based CIM for $130.5 million. Curme is now developing two hotels above the EpiCentre, using the building’s air rights.

“EpiCentre wouldn’t be there except for its first owner, who, regardless of what happened, had a hell of a vision,” Curme said.

▪ Don Beaver, owner of the Charlotte Knights, Dan Rajkowski, Knights COO and Michael Smith, CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners: They spearheaded the effort to get the Knights stadium built uptown, fighting through seven lawsuits over seven years.

“It was worth fighting for,” said Smith. “It was over 30 acres of surface lots and under-utilized space.”

▪ Central Piedmont Community College president Tony Zeiss was also honored, as was Murray Brockman, president of the S.C. Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics in Hartsville, for their contributions to education.