David Furman calls on industry to continue building ‘a great city’ at Heavy Hitters awards event

By   – Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal

Thursday night revealed a lot of winners — and a lot of ties — at the Charlotte Business Journal‘s fifth annual event honoring commercial real estate projects completed over the past year in the Charlotte region.

Twenty-five regional real estate developments across eight categories — ranging from corporate office buildings to amenity-rich multifamily communities to nonprofit and civic projects — substantially completed between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, were honored at The Westin Charlotte in uptown.

Among the winners was 2018 Pillar Award recipient David Furman, whose architecture and development has helped transform the urban landscape of center city Charlotte for more than three decades.

Furman has been a pioneer and leader in creative, cool and funky real estate projects — primarily in the residential space but more recently in commercial and mixed-use deals in South End and uptown — as well as a civic leader. He serves on the board of Charlotte Center City Partners as a driving force behind Rail Trail projects and doing pro-bono design work for local nonprofits like the Crisis Assistance Ministry, the Urban Ministry Center and the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.

“I was honored, I was elated, I was simultaneously embarrassed,” Furman said during a speech, referring to when he learned he was this year’s recipient of the award. “I’m not a heavy hitter — far from a heavy hitter. For me to be mentioned in the same context with Johnny Harris, Smoky Bissell, Allen TateTony Pressley, people who have won this thing in the past, I will say, as my wife says, ‘Puh-lease.'”

Furman discussed highlights of his career so far, including building out First Ward — a formerly distressed part of uptown — with more than a dozen residential projects, creating a neighborhood and using architecture as a way to try to make an “impactful difference” and establish a connection between real estate and the public realm.

He alluded to designing 30-plus projects inside of Interstate 277 during the “go-go years” of Hugh McColl, the former Bank of America CEO who drove much of the development of Charlotte in the last major expansion period. But Furman used his speech as a charge to the real estate community to keep building a great city.

“I think it’s the responsibility of the people in this room — the responsibility of the developers and the architects, builders, brokers, everybody in our industry — to (try) to fill in these blanks and make our city better,” Furman said.

Furman mentioned his civic work, adding his pride in being able to donate “first-class” design work for nonprofit groups in the area, as well as helping to bring the Charlotte Rail Trail from a utilitarian sidewalk to the “de facto public park of South End” over the past several years. He said he considers himself lucky to have worked with the teams he’s been with over the course of his career, teams comprised of “super talented people.”

“I hope that we can band together and keep filling in these blanks (and) make our city a great city,” Furman concluded. “We have the opportunity to do that. It’s a good city now, it’s a great city now, but we can really make it special, and the people in this room can help us do that.”

The finalists and winners of each category that were recognized Thursday night are as follows (click the headlines to read about each project):


Office development

Hospitality and entertainment development

Nonprofit development

Warehouse development

Retail development

Apartment development

Public/civic/education development