These are the most creative real estate projects in the Carolinas

They all repurposed old sites, they all built a different kind of product, and they were all difficult projects that took years to finance and pull off.

Those are some characteristics shared by projects that the Carolinas chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate presented with their Creative Thinkers Awards on Wednesday.

“We wanted to do something different, something the community didn’t have a lot of,” said Colby Mosier, one of the developers of the Pump House, a restaurant in a former pump house for the Celanese plant on the Catawba River.

To do that, they had to deal with flood plain issues, the headaches that come with restoring and repurposing an old industrial building and even negotiating with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a deck for diners over the river.

Here are the projects that won. For more information, you can go to

▪ The Pump House, Elliott Close and Colby Mosier: Adaptive reuse of a former pumping station on the Catawba River that used to serve the Celanese plant, turning it into a restaurant.

▪ Riverwalk, Dave Williams and Mark Mathers: Turning the former Celanese plant into a mixed-use development with houses, apartments, a riverfront walking trail, kayak launch and BMX bicycle track.

▪ Loray Mill Village, Billy Hughes: Once the region’s largest textile plant and a site of labor unrest, the mill in Gastonia was empty for decades. It’s now being reused for apartments and businesses, changing the neighborhood around it as well.

▪ American Underground, Michael Goodmon and Adam Klein: This entrepreneurship incubator in Durham is in a repurposed building that’s part of the historic tobacco district, as well as offices in several other locations around the area.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo