April 30, 2010

Center City Partners honor Levines' vision

Center City Partners honor Levines' vision
By Kirsten Valle
Posted: Friday, Apr. 30, 2010
The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Center City Partners recognized local philanthropists, developers and the owner of a South End ice cream shop Thursday night with the annual Center City Vision Awards. The event, meant to honor visionary projects and people, was the first in the Charlotte Convention Center's new Crown Ballroom, a 40,000-square-foot space that opened recently in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

This year's Vision Award went to Sandra and Leon Levine, whose philanthropy "will strengthen the foundation of our community for decades to come," Center City Partners said. The couple's major projects include the Levine Children's Hospital, Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street (formerly the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus) and the Levine Museum of the New South.  "Despite how far we have come, we can always do more," said Sandra Levine, in between standing ovations for the couple.

Center City Partners, which promotes the economic and cultural development of uptown and South End, gave this year's Settlers Award - which recognizes a company's pioneering spirit -to Mr. K's Soft Ice Cream & Drive In, its owner, Theodore Karres, and operators Pamela Karres Dizes and George Dizes. The South End shop opened in 1967 and has become known for its hamburgers, onion rings, shakes and soft ice cream.

Three Special Achievement Awards, recognizing projects with a major impact on uptown's ongoing transformation, went to:

Johnson & Wales University and its president, Art Gallagher.   The student body has grown to 2,400 from 1,000 when the university's new uptown campus opened in 2004.

The EpiCentre, developer Afshin Ghazi and The Ghazi Co.   The mixed-use complex, which features restaurants, retail and nightlife, "is a cornerstone of Charlotte's efforts to become a great destination," the group said.

The Metropolitan, developer Peter Pappas of Pappas Properties, Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton, Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones, Bo Jackson of Colonial Properties Trust and John Collett of Collett & Associates.  "This project was a feat in coordination," Center City Partners said of The Metropolitan. "A complex and bold shared vision was built through a unique partnership of developers, investors, retailers and the city and county."

Patrick Scott contributed.