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Event sponsor Chaote Construction's Dave Priester

Choate Construction's Dave Priester, head of the Carolinas office of the Atlanta construction giant (actually based in Charlotte), says market conditions have improved in the last two quarters. But it's a lot like saying a bout with Mike Tyson ain't what it used to be. "We're seeing some even growth, but competition is fierce and even stupid, at times," Dave says. Choate was a sponsor of the first-ever Charlotte State of the Market, which last week drew more than 350 CRE types to the Charlotte Westin Hotel Uptown.


We also found pal Dennis Richter in the crowd. Dennis was one of Charlotte's major multifamily players a few years ago, but he abandoned that in favor of a  stint in Australia. He's now back in Charlotte selling solar energy as SVP for NARENCO. Dennis always made it sound easy. He says selling solar energy isn't that different from selling real estate. "It's all about rooftops,"  he says. He markets across the US and admits the Southeast has been a little slow to catch on to the trend. "But the market is growing," he tells us. (It's ok Dennis, take your time. The sun isn't going anywhere.)

Covendium's Gary Stephens and Brianne Moran

A few attendees voiced some notes of caution. Debt restructuring specialist Covendium's Gary Stephens and Brianne Moran were all smiles, but their message to the early morning schmoozers was, well, dour. Covendium helps owners of distressed properties restructure debt. There are lots of those these days, Gary told us. In fact, about $1T (yes, the T-word) in matured loans nationwide is coming due next year. "That's going to be a major issue next year all across the spectrum of commercial real estate," Gary tells us. 

Commercial Works? Sal Incorvaia and Grubb & Ellis? Karen Mankowski

Commercial Works' Sal Incorvaia  and Grubb & Ellis' Karen Mankowski may not have been any more optimistic but maybe just a bit more diplomatic. Karen tells us she thinks the worst of the recession is over, but rebounding from this bad boy is just going to take a little longer than we thought. "I think we've bottomed out," Karen says. "What we're having now is just a very long, extended recovery."