Cape Fear CREW Announces 2023 Awards of Excellence Winners

February 20, 2023
Written by: KW Communications
Image Credit: Page Productions
Cape Fear CREW is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 5th Annual Awards of Excellence, held yesterday at the Wilmington Convention Center. The awards, which focus on the rapidly growing Cape Fear Region commercial real estate sector, recognize excellence and leadership in commercial real estate. The event was led by Cape Fear CREW President, Julie Dixon of Live Oak Bank, who said, “Congratulations to the very deserving winners of this year’s awards. This year’s field of submissions and finalists exceeded our expectations and the level of complexity and attention to detail on each was extraordinary.” 
Best Design Award
Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center
The 122-year-old Atlantic Coastline Railroad building served as the railroad’s headquarters from the 1900s-1960s. Great care in the construction of Aloft Wilmington was taken to preserve heavy-timber elements for the renovation of the historic building while converting it into usable space that serves as the hotel’s main lobby, bar, offices, event space, and exercise room. A seven-story tower was constructed and connected to the original office space and warehouse and serves as the hotel’s kitchen, guest rooms, back of house, and a luxurious rooftop bar with spectacular views. The Aloft owner’s father was a longtime employee of the railroad and maintaining the railroad’s legacy in downtown Wilmington was a key facet of this project’s design. The owner was able to add some personal touches such as marbleized epoxy flooring and the repurposing of interior brick walls throughout the lobby.
Dealmaker Award
The Soda Pop Transaction
The Soda Pop Transaction involved the acquisition of 22 parcels in the up-and-coming Soda Pop District. The acquisition represents the largest contiguous land assembly in Wilmington's UMX district. The properties include office, warehouse, retail, and vacant land of varying conditions. Due to the unique and complex nature of the project site, the team dealt with numerous complexities. These complexities included off-market acquisition after years of negotiation with the seller, navigating the deal during the time when the City land use code was being rewritten, and securing financing for 3 different projects in the different buildings. To date, Parastream has leased 68,000SF, welcoming new businesses such as Bowstring Restaurant and Bar, Craftspace, Beach and Barn, Classic Kitchens and Baths, Patriots Roofing, Marine Bean, WARM, Starz Movies, and A Safe Place.
Best Development Award
The Cargo District
The Cargo District development began as a vision to revitalize Queen Street and the surrounding area. The Cargo District is designed as an urban live & work development located minutes from historic downtown Wilmington and is comprised of retail, dining, co-working, and residential uses.  The development is constructed with re-purposed Quonset huts and shipping containers. This innovative engineering and construction are patented by Cargo District owner and developer, Leslie Smith.  The Cargo District is home to a wide variety of businesses and creatives such as Alcove Beer Garden, The Starling, Coworx Coworking, and the Mess Hall, just to name a few. Through innovative design and construction, The Cargo District has become one of the top social hubs in Wilmington and has become known for supporting small businesses through an uplifting and creative community.
Economic and Community Enhancement Award
International Commerce Center I
International Commerce Center is a large, two-phased, multi-tenant industrial facility located within the International Logistics Park just 18 miles from the North Carolina State Port of Wilmington. Phase I includes a fully-leased 150,660 square foot facility and Phase II is projected to add an additional 133,920 square feet of space to the development. The development will employ a number of skilled workers with an average salary well above the average Brunswick and Columbus County annual wages. Accordingly, this development is anticipated to have a substantial positive impact on nearby communities and is expected to grow the State's economy by more than $301 million over a 10-year time period. The facility has already attracted local companies aiming to expand their footprint like Tri-Tech Forensics, as well as larger out-of-state names such as California aerospace company Precision Swiss.
Career Advancement for Women
The College Access Team at Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington
For students at GLOW, the obstacles to a college education are real, with many being the first in their families to attend college. The College Access department works with students and families to build college awareness, visit college campuses, and more. In 2021, GLOW’s College Access department partnered with Cape Fear CREW for an after-school program called GLOW CREW Club to introduce students to jobs within the commercial real estate industry. Another way students connect with career opportunities is through a signature program, GLOWorks.  Students are taken to an undisclosed local business to meet with employees and learn about the types of careers that make the business successful. GLOW has also partnered with Live Oak Bank, which hosted internship opportunities with competitive pay, accommodating hours, and a commitment to making the internship accessible to all students.
Beth Quinn Excellence Award
Connie Ronner
Connie is an accomplished banking professional, a Wilmington native, and a UNCW graduate. A member of Cape Fear CREW since 2012, she served as President in 2019, guiding the chapter through its first Awards of Excellence. She served for several years on the CREW Board, chaired multiple CREW committees, and has served on the Awards of Excellence Committee since its inception. Connie is Co-Chair of Live Oak Bank’s Women Inspired Network ERG. WIN provides women at the bank with a safe environment to share experiences, challenges, and solutions. Connie is a graduate of Leadership Wilmington and the North Carolina School of Banking. She’s also a past President and Board Member of the March of Dimes and volunteered on the NICU Family Advisory Council for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Impact Award Winner
Monteith Construction
Monteith Construction’s presence in the Wilmington community has not only changed the region’s built environment, but the company has also shown true leadership and commitment to being a partner, mentor, and friend to our community.  As simply put on their website, “We build relationships,” and that rings true for local businesses, partners, and community and business leaders. The projects they have participated in within the Cape Fear region illustrate the “why.” They read as a “who’s who” of impactful new and renewed commercial buildings. The Soda Pop redevelopment, the Davis Community Center, GLOW Academy, Common Desk, 320 Chestnut, Fit Park for Live Oak Bank, the ILM Airport Expansion, the ILM new fixed-base operator (FBO), and the Wilmington Convention Center.  Their cultural statements are clear; build exceptional buildings, demonstrate grit, don’t tolerate “brilliant jerks,” trust the judgment of your people, and “we before me.”  
In addition to the Cape Fear CREW Awards, the organization was joined by The Realtors Commercial Alliance of Southeastern North Carolina to present the following awards:
RCASENC Member of the Year:  Eric Knight, RCA Past President, Nest Realty
RCASENC Real Estate Rockstar:  Ginny Dunn, Maus Warwick Matthews
RCASENC Lifetime Achievement Award:  Garry Silivanch, Eastern Carolinas Commercial
Cape Fear CREW extends its appreciation to our panel of judges: 
  • Gary Vidmar, Town of Leland
  • Donna Girardot, New Hanover County Planning Board
  • Jenny Mizelle, Retired, Economic Development
  • Rob Kaiser, Greater Wilmington Business Journal
  • John Sandlin, Clarendon Properties
  • Stella Walton, Triangle CREW 
Thank you to our committed Partners for 2023!
Presenting Partner
Live Oak Bank
Platinum Partners
Copycat Print Shop
Highland Roofing
Award Partners
The Braddock Group
Corning Credit Union
Customers Bank
Salt Air, Inc.
Parking Partner 
Wade Associates
Gold Partners  
Baker Roofing
Greater Wilmington Business Journal
Monteith Construction
North Carolina’s Southeast
Odyssey Mechanical
Realtors® Commercial Alliance
Theory & Practice Productions
Wilmington Business Development
Silver Partners
Capital Design Inc
Clancy & Theys Construction Company
Clarendon Properties
ECS Southeast
First National Bank
Guy C. Lee Building Materials
KW Communications, LLC
Maus Warwick Matthews & Company
Page Productions
Patriot Roofing & Exteriors
About Cape Fear CREW and CREW Network
The Cape Fear chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), with 80 members from a wide array of commercial real estate interests, has as its mission to advance the success of women in commercial real estate. CREW Network is the affiliated national association that represents over 12,000 women in commercial real estate in chapters around the world. For more information on the Cape Fear chapter, including membership and partnership information, visit the Cape Fear CREW website at and follow us on Facebook @CapeFearCrew.