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Q&A With New Forum's Amanda Gardner

The economy is strong and real estate fundamentals are in good shape, but reportedly lenders are growing more skittish about making real estate loans. Is this so in Charlotte?


We chatted with New Forum chief financial officer Amanda Gardner, who was recently tapped for that position, which oversees all investor and banking relationships for the company. Charlotte-based New Forum specializes in mixed-use communities, including more than 2M SF of office and retail space, three hotels, single-family homes, apartments, restaurants and a 14-screen movie theater.

Gardner also serves on the advisory board for ULI’s Charlotte chapter, as well as its Community Builders committee, which focuses on outreach to future leaders by fostering relationships with local high school and university educators.

Bisnow: What is your outlook for access to finance for mixed-use development in Charlotte? Tighter in the coming year or not?

Gardner: Our outlook is positive. While there might be some tightening for multifamily, everything we’ve seen indicates continued access to financing and a healthy lending environment in 2017. We recently refinanced a mixed-use building at our Ayrsley community in Charlotte and were pleased with the terms of the loan.


Bisnow: Do lenders generally understand mixed-use, or are they still a little unsure about it?

Gardner: Most lenders do understand mixed-use in a traditional sense, but they might require some additional information about the parking and infrastructure and how it all works together. We sometimes face challenges with the appraisal process and helping appraisers understand that a development like Ayrsley isn’t comparable to a traditional retail center.

Bisnow: What does Charlotte need to be a better community?

Gardner: Charlotte needs more intergenerational communities that foster relationships between the younger and older generations. We’re exploring this for our next mixed-use development called Parkway Crossing.