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Black Developer Hires Black Owned Title Insurance Company for Multiple Deals Totaling $310M In Affordable Housing

Brisa Builders and National Standard Abstract are two Black owned real estate firms that are creating stability within underserved communities through housing opportunities and philanthropy.

Ericka Keller, CEO of Brisa Builders Corporation, has committed her organization to circulate dollars within the ecosystem of Black entrepreneurs. An example is engaging National Standard Abstract, one of the largest 100 percent Black-owned companies in the real estate industry, to provide title insurance for all of her real estate transactions.

black owned firms
Ericka, CEO of Brisa Builders Corporation and Managing Member at Brisa Builders Development

Since 2018, Brisa Builders has developed several faith-based real estate projects totaling over $310 million, including the $154 million Ebenezer Plaza Phase 1A and $75 million Ebenezer Plaza Phase 1B with the Church of God of East Flatbush, $45 million Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas (BPHN) Senior Residences, and the $36 million Harry T. Nance Apts.

Brisa Builders Corp. is a family-owned construction management, development, and general contracting firm based in Brooklyn. Founded by the late Lilly and Thomas Keller in 1997, the company has a long history of working with faith-based organizations to construct affordable senior housing. 

Ericka Keller was a principal for the New York City Department of Education before taking the helm of the family business in 2012. Four years later, she opened her company called Brisa Builders Development LLC to continue educating and forming partnerships with faith-based institutions throughout New York City to build quality and affordable housing accessible to all residents.

Although there are very few Black real estate developers, studies show that they have the highest percentage of hiring other Black-owned firms throughout the development process. In 2014, The Church of God of East Flatbush engaged Brisa Builders to develop two parcels of land in Brooklyn, NY, known as Ebenezer Plaza. Three years later, Brisa Builders enlisted National Standard Abstract to provide title insurance for the transaction.

Family Affair

Ericka Keller introduced Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson from the Church of God of East Flatbush to Osei Rubie of National Standard Abstract in 2017 to cultivate partnerships with faith leaders through educational forums. Ironically, in 2020, Osei Rubie discovered Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson was his cousin.

Osei Rubie’s mother, Jamaican-born Yvonne Rubie, identified the new family connection during a Zoom meeting led by Bishop Dr. Nelson’s sister, Joy Nelson. She immediately made the revelation of a development project in Brooklyn that would now reunite long-lost cousins working side-by-side for years and unaware of their shared roots. After a quick confirmation call between mother and son, it became clear why the friendship with Bishop Dr. Nelson and Osei Rubie came with such ease.

Strengthening communities is a family affair for these intergenerational organizations. After realizing the complexities of faith-based development, National Standard Abstract began to supplement the industry insight offered by Brisa Builders. Osei Rubie facilitated public forums on title insurance where he shared crucial knowledge about the history of properties that could benefit faith leaders considering development.

National Standard Abstract is a full-service title insurance agency with expertise in faith-based developments, residential and commercial real estate transactions. Since launching in 2015, the family- and Black-owned firm has closed over $1 billion in transactions within New York and New Jersey. As the bridge to building one community at a time, National Standard Abstract expanded its footprint into philanthropy through the Osei Rubie Charitable Fund to help end racial inequity and support the organizations working on the ground to create real change.

Cooperative Economics

“Cooperative economics is critical in Black communities, where small businesses competing for government contracts are already at a disadvantage because of our race, level of experience, budget, and capacity. Relationships with Black real estate professionals and developers, including Brisa Builders, who hired our agency to provide title insurance, were essential to expanding our business portfolio.

Today, we have set the industry standard with quality services while deepening our commitment to investing in the communities where we do business. As a proponent of Black entrepreneurship and generational wealth, I am excited to carry on this vital work amongst newfound family like Bishop Dr. Nelson,” said Osei Rubie, founder and president of National Standard Abstract.

black owned
Osei Rubie (L), founder and President of National Standard Abstract, and Nadir Rubie (R), Partner at National Standard Abstract

“In less than a decade, National Standard Abstract has grown exponentially because we believe that relationships matter – at home and in the workplace. Before one can lead, you must first learn the fundamental principles of life and business. I am collaborating with my business partner, mentor, and father on development projects that will uplift historically marginalized communities. Together, we have achieved what others thought was impossible because we are family and of African descent,” said Nadir Rubie, a partner at National Standard Abstract.

According to a statement from Ericka Keller, “Every opportunity to partner with industry leaders and faith-based institutions that reflect our community deepens our longstanding commitment to providing stability to Black and Brown families who are vulnerable to economic insecurity and homelessness. I am proud to uphold the legacy of my father Thomas Keller, who believed that it is our collective responsibility to build affordable homes that combat efforts to uproot local residents.” 

Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson is the senior pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush. Currently, he oversees two phases of a three-phase development project called Ebenezer Plaza, totaling $364 million to build nearly 530 affordable housing units, commercial spaces, a sanctuary, and a community facility to provide social services.

“In recent years, houses of worship in New York City have begun to expand their ministry’s focus beyond the borders of the sanctuary to improve the quality of life in the community. Foundational to the existential needs facing the urban landscape is affordable housing.

A little over a decade ago, our congregation decided to take a leap of faith and incorporate affordable housing in our future expansion. A few years after purchasing two city blocks to relocate the church facility, we were introduced to Brisa Builders and later National Standard Abstract to bring the vision into reality. After doing due diligence and checking several references, I am convinced this was the most important step in bringing the vision into reality,” he said.

black owned
Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, senior pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush

Brisa Builders and National Standard Abstract have created a blueprint that has every potential to spur economic growth, stability, and opportunities in underserved communities.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, where Black-owned businesses were largely excluded from the federal government’s emergency relief programs, we must begin to rely upon ourselves to rebuild Black wealth and communities. Black dollars can only circulate when we hire within to secure the future for the next generation.

Tony O. Lawson


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These Two Black Owned Real Estate Firms Have Closed over $60M in Deals Together

National Standard Abstract  (NSA) and CB Emmanuel Realty are two Black Owned Real Estate Firms that have closed over $60 million in transactions together.

NSA is a full-service title agency that has expertise in residential and commercial real estate transactions. CB Emmanuel Realty is a real estate developer and investor of Affordable Housing properties.

On December 12th, 2020 National Standard Abstract provided title insurance for a $32 Million deal involving CB Emmanuel Realty. This transaction involved the preservation of Calvary Baptist Senior Housing in Jamaica Queens NY.

This is not the first time these companies have collaborated on deals of this size. In August of 2020, they closed another $30 million affordable housing transaction.

In this interview, Osei Rubie, CEO of NSA, and Chris Bramwell, CEO of CBE, discuss why they decided to join forces. They also discuss the importance of networking and building relationships.

Both men credit much of their success to their fathers and are now passing lessons learned to their children. Osei and Chris also explain how and why they are giving back to the community.

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Tony O. Lawson


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One of the Largest Black Owned Title Insurance Companies Closes $30 Million Dollar Affordable Housing Deal and Continues to Give Back to The Community

It isn’t often that you hear about large businesses that genuinely care about the community in which they operate, but this case is different.

As New York City is slowly reopening while spurring affordable housing to meet the growing demand post-pandemic, National Standard Abstract (NSA) closed a $30 million real estate transaction deal to develop a new affordable housing project in Brooklyn.

NSA is a title insurance agency owned by father-son duo, Osei and Nadir Rubie, widely-renowned as industry leaders after closing over $1 billion in commercial and residential real estate transactions in less than five years.

“In our five-plus years of operation, a common question posed to us is ‘how do we engage National Standard Abstract to provide title insurance for our project or transaction?’ As an MBE NYC Certified firm, our credentials are inclusive of City-funded commercial real estate projects as well as market-rate development projects,” said Nadir Rubie, partner, National Standard Abstract.

The Deal

Vacant city-owned land situated in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn will now become a seven-story residential building with 71 units. The nearly 47,000 sq. ft. structure will include 55 studios, 14 one-bedroom, and 2 two-bedroom apartments.

The amenities include a reception desk and mailroom; a multipurpose room; offices for supportive services, tenant and bike storage in the cellar; a landscaped garden in the rear yard; and a green roof with solar panels.

Black Owned Title Insurance

Backstory

CB Emmanuel Realty LLC is a real estate development company focused on acquiring and revitalizing investment-grade properties in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. With a focus on dynamic urban neighborhoods, CB Emmanuel Realty LLC develops ground-up market-rate and affordable apartments through the preservation and upgrading of historic, irreplaceable assets.

In 2015, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) issued a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Building Opportunity Request for Proposals.

Two years later, CB Emmanuel Realty, LLC and Services for the Underserved received the award to jointly oversee development of the site into housing for formerly homeless individuals with disabilities.

The HPD Supportive Housing Loan Program (SHLP) has underwritten the project. This designation is pivotal in strengthening Black communities by ensuring every dollar invested continues to circulate amongst Black-owned businesses.

Black Owned Title Insurance
Osei Rubie, Christopher Bramwelll and Nadir Rubie

Giving back

Following the announcement, CB Emmanuel Realty, LLC chose National Standard Abstract who has committed a portion of every real estate transaction to support the community in which they do business.

“It is our responsibility to provide opportunities for other minority-owned firms that we know engage, inspire, and empower people of African descent in the community. National Standard Abstract (NSA) has demonstrated this philosophy in action after every transaction they complete. For that reason, we hire NSA to provide title insurance for all of our real estate transactions,” said Christopher Bramwell, managing member, CB Emmanuel Realty, LLC.

“As New Yorkers, we overcame many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to persevere despite our new normal. I am proud that National Standard Abstract remains an integral partner during this critical time to build one community at a time. I look forward to helping with the economic resurgence through our leadership in title insurance and our philanthropic arm, the Osei Rubie Charitable Fund,” said Osei Rubie, president and founder of National Standard Abstract.

To date, via the Osei Rubie Charitable Fund,  $100,000 has been awarded in less than a year to fifteen organizations and counting that advance black culture, excellence, and generational wealth.

Tony O. Lawson


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