Real Estate News — Operation Home holds fundraiser for dwelling fix-ups; 7 Calhoun manager tabbed

Shawna Topor (Photo provided).

• Gimme Shelter party to back low-income home repair group •

New Orleans-style music and food is expected to spice up an evening shindig May 12 in support of Operation Home.

The second annual Gimme Shelter will start at 6 p.m. in the Navy Yard at Noisette, 10 Storehouse Row. Home Team BBQ is the presenter.

Organizers describe the party as “The Big Easy comes to the Lowcountry,” touting lively entertainment, funky music and a taste of New Orleans.

Home Team BBQ Executive Chef Aaron Siegel is preparing the menu, to include a crawfish boil, jambalaya and mini po-boys. Hurricanes and Painkillers are among the drinks in the stocked bar. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door.

The Navy Yard at Noisette is Operation Home’s new home base, Executive Director Lisa Potts says. The 10 Storehouse Row building is well suited for the New Orleans-inspired event and is centrally located with plenty of free parking, she says.

“Providing a setting that is creative and urban but not too polished, guests will be able to let their hair down, have an amazing time, and know that all of the funds earned will be used to continue our emergency home repair program throughout 2012,” she says.

Operation Home was formed to help low-income residents of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties stay in their homes by making the dwellings safer and more accessible via quick-response repairs.

The work focuses on people who need help the most such as households with children, disabled residents or seniors.

Since its inception, Operation Home has repaired hundreds of homes, with the fix-up work totaling more than $1 million. The group says it is committed to ensuring that no person has to live in a home that is inaccessible or dangerous.

For more information visit

• East West Partners executive to oversee marketing at 7 Calhoun •

A Rocky Mountain real estate veteran will head up public relations at, among other places, Charleston’s first condo complex with a hotel.

Shawna Topor was recently named vice president of marketing for developer East West Partners, located in Beaver Creek near Avon, Colo. She will be in charge of promotions at several Western projects as well as 7 Calhoun.

Topor joined East West Partners in 1998. “Shawna is an integral part of our company,” says Craig Ferraro, managing partner at East West Partners. “Her experience, business savvy and dedication to this team are second to none.”

As the marketing vice president, Topor teams with project managers to craft marketing, e-marketing and public relations strategies for development projects in the Vail, Colo., area and elsewhere.

Her newest project is 7 Calhoun, announced earlier this month. East West Partners is involved in the downtown Charleston project. It will have condo residences as well as being served by its own hotel, soon to become a member of Starwood’s The Luxury Collection.

According to East West Partners, 7 Calhoun is “at the forefront of contemporary comfort,” representing a new way to live in the Charleston waterfront neighborhood. The center will offer hotel amenities to condo owners including upscale dining, a state-of-the-art spa, and available concierge services.

Topor also oversees the marketing efforts, including employee and community outreach, for the East West Partners brand.

Prior to joining East West Partners, Topor worked for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate as director of marketing. She is active as a community volunteer and serves on the board of The Bright Future Foundation.

Formed in 1986, East West Partners is a family of independent companies devoted to building, selling and managing high-quality real estate in various locales. In that time, the company has developed more than 60 projects comprising more than $3 billion of residential and commercial real estate.

• Golf tourney to support Basket Brigade •

Armada Real Estate and the Lowcountry Business Network will present Golfun’ for a Great Cause next month in Mount Pleasant.

The May 12 event will benefit a local charity that helps feed impoverished people in the Lowcountry. The captain’s choice tournament at Patriots Point Golf Links will have a noon shotgun start and finish by 7 p.m.

To register, visit and search “Armada.” Proceeds go to the Charleston Basket Brigade, made up of community members who provide Thanksgiving meals to families in need. For more information, visit

• Keller Williams lines up relocation specialist •

A versatile, experienced Realtor in the Mount Pleasant area has signed on with one of the larger agencies in the region.

Di Johnson, a member of the East Cooper Top Producers Club, has recently joined Keller Williams. She is a top 10 percent Realtor in the area Multiple Listing Service, based on sales in 2011.

In addition to local clients, Johnson relocated 200 Boeing families to the Lowcountry in the past two years.

Johnson has combined a love of the Charleston area, knowledge of the market and hard work to become an expert at relocation. She also has a natural ability to have fun and is top-notch at thinking outside the box, according to Keller Williams.

She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist; E Pro Accredited Buyer Representative; Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource; and Rental Specialist, Green.

• HUD counseling funds doled out •

Two metro Charleston housing groups received funds totaling more than $80,000 recently to work individually with families to find or keep a home.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department disclosed the housing counseling grants, which amount to $42 million spread among 468 national, regional and local entities.

“The HUD-approved counseling agencies this funding supports are crucial in helping struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial futures,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says.

The grants will help families become homebuyers, many for the first time, and remain owners after their purchase. They also will provide assistance to renters and the homeless, and offer financial literacy training to individuals and families, according to HUD.

More than $36 million in grant funds will support the housing counseling services provided by national and regional groups, state Housing Finance Agencies and local counseling agencies.

Another $2 million will go to three national organizations to train counselors. And, $4 million will be awarded to agencies to assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages. They will counsel the “rapidly growing number of elderly homeowners who seek to convert equity in their homes into income that can be used to pay for home improvements, medical costs, and other living expenses,” HUD says.

The local grant-winners include North Charleston-based Family Services Inc., which took in $28,606 for overall counseling and $38,417 for the equity conversion mortgages.

Family Services has five divisions including the Homeownership Resource Center, Financial Literacy Education and Consumer Credit Counseling. During fiscal year 2011, Family Services counseled 8,825 clients. For more information, visit or

Meanwhile, the Charleston Trident Urban League Inc. earned $15,000 for comprehensive counseling. The non-profit, community-based organization’s offerings include Housing Department Services, which assists with first-time home buyer education; a fair housing hotline and counseling; rent and utility assistance; and financial literacy.

Last fiscal year, the group helped more than 1,200 people with various types of assistance including landlord-tenant disputes and purchasing homes for the first time. For more, visit

• Lewandowski chooses Carolina One •

A local broker who in his spare time coaches soccer has become affiliated with a major Charleston area agency’s downtown office.

Robert Lewandowski is part of the Costanzo Real Estate Team, says Lina and Michelle Costanzo of Carolina One Real Estate’s Broad Street locale. The Constanzos are team partners.

Lewandowski was born in New Jersey and raised on James Island. He has an associate’s in arts degree from Trident Technical College and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the College of Charleston .

The agent has six years’ experience in customer relations and has been a Realtor for more than a year.

In addition to camping, fishing, hiking and playing baseball, Lewandowski has for several years coached a coed soccer team of 12- to 15-year-olds.

“Robert is hard charging and committed to being a success in real estate,” says Nancy Roettger, broker-in-charge of the Broad Street office. “He has teamed up with a very professional group and I expect big things from him.”

For more information, visit

• Sustainability Institute chief garners green building award •

Spreading the word about eco-friendly construction helped Bryan Cordell win a top honor from the U.S. Green Building Councils’ state wing.

Cordell, executive director of the Sustainability Institute in Charleston, earned the Individual Award from the councils’ South Carolina chapter earlier in April.

According to the chapter, the Sustainability Institute “has been instrumental in making green building and sustainability efforts more visible across the state.”

The organization grew from two people in 2006 to 16 today with a budget of more than $1.7 million. Its green workforce development program has educated more than 8,000 people, the chapter says. And the institute’s weatherization projects have documented energy savings of more than $2 million.

Cordell is a member of the USGBC-SC board. In 2011, he organized the first effort to coordinate building councils’ volunteer-led projects to weatherize the homes of low income families across the Southeast.

Duke Energy sponsored the chapter’s Leadership Awards program.

Cordell was one of three award winners. The Exemplary Project Award went to the Goodall Environmental Studies Center - Wofford College, Glendale Shoals.Glendale Mill began operations in 1832, but closed in 1961. In 2005, several local organizations and Wofford College alumni began a campaign to revitalize Glendale and to preserve the history and natural resources of Lawson’s Fork Creek. The mill office became home for Wofford’s new Environmental Studies program.Building highlights include using 32 percent less energy than average buildings of the same size and type.

Meanwhile, the Keith Sanders Service Award was handed out to Dan Gerst, the chapter’s Communication Chair. He is a technology marketing professional, responsible for business intelligence, customer satisfaction and market research at QS/1. Under his guidance, the Communications Committee has moved the chapter forward via its website, emails, newsletters, public relations, social media and research.

• National builder hits 45 years old •

In spring 1967, Ryland Homes was just getting off the ground. Now the company is in 13 states, including South Carolina.

Ryland, among the 10 largest builders in the country, is celebrating its 45th year. In that time, it has built more than 285,000 homes and financed more than 235,000 mortgages.

The home builder opened its doors during the last week of March in 1967, says Brian Cartwright, vice president of sales and marketing for Ryland Homes in South Carolina. Today, Ryland builds new homes in eight communities in the Charleston-Myrtle Beach area.

The company also frames houses in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and California.

Headquartered in Southern California, Ryland operates in 28 markets. For more information, visit