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This Black Real Estate Developer is Launching a $500 Million fund for Minority Developers

Roy Donahue “Don” Peebles is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Peebles Corporation, the largest Black owned real estate development and ownership company in the US, with a multibillion-dollar development portfolio of luxury hotels, high-rise residential and commercial properties.

Black Real Estate Developer

He recently announced that his firm will be launching a $500 million investment fund for 60 deals that involve minority and women developers in cities where the firm operates, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

In addition to supplying capital, Peebles said his company will look at ways to support the emerging developers. Through co-developing or partnerships, he hopes the fund will “help mitigate risk and help them grow quicker.”

The fund will focus on a variety of commercial and multifamily projects, with an emphasis on projects that range between $10 to $70 million.that offer affordable housing

“The idea is to create this business model that shows that investing in emerging developers and investing in diversity will result in higher returns with less risk,” Peebles added.

“It’s a very positive thing to have the developments that are taking place in communities of color, to have the projects be developed by people of color,” Peebles said. “We see this as a win-win and an untapped market.”

We previously listed Don Peebles on our list of Top 24 Black Real Estate Businesses and Professionals.

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)

 

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Queen Latifah is Investing in a $14 Million Real Estate Project in NJ

Hip-hop icon Queen Latifah is returning to her hometown of Newark to invest in a cluster of multi-family town homes along Springfield Avenue and South 17th Street.

The $14 million project is expected to break ground in the summer.

Latifah, a co-president of BlueSugar Corporation, is working with GonSosa Development on the project, which is anchored outside of the city’s downtown, spanning the West and South wards.

The project includes 20 three-family town homes and a three-story mixed-used building with an additional 16 units. Plans for the building include a fitness center and 1,900 square feet of commercial space that will be rented to nonprofits. The 60 units in the townhouses will be market rate; the 16 units in the building will be affordable.

A rendering of the 76-unit residential town homes coming to Springfield Avenue and South 17th Street in Newark. (Courtesy: BlueSugar Corporation and GonSosa Development) BlueSugar Corporation and GonSosa Development

Rents for the market rate units will start around $1,800 a month and are expected to open by December 2020. The affordable housing building is expected to be finished in December 2021; units there will be priced according to a person’s income.

Cristina Pinzon, a spokeswoman for the developers, said both companies recognize the need for affordable housing in and around Newark.

A rendering of the 76-unit residential town homes coming to Springfield Avenue and South 17th Street in Newark.  (Courtesy: BlueSugar Corporation and GonSosa Development) (BlueSugar Corporation and GonSosa Development)

“They understand how difficult it is to make ends meet for many residents and want to be part of the solution. They remain dedicated to making life better in communities like Newark,” she said in a statement.

Latifah, who was born in Newark and raised in East Orange, has previously embraced her Jersey roots. As the commencement speaker for Rutgers-Newark last May, Latifah told the graduating class, “I couldn’t be more proud to be one of Newark’s own today, this is home.”

“Today’s Newark is stirring again, stirring because our greatest export was never a product, it’s always been the people. People like each of you — unique, strong, creative individuals,” she went on to say.

Source: NJ.com

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Leslie Anderson, CEO of the NJ Redevelopment Authority

Leslie Anderson is President & CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA), a multi-million dollar independent financing institution created by the state of NJ to transform economically distressed urban communities.

She is reportedly the only Black woman in the country that is leading an independent public financing institution. Under her leadership, NJRA has used its financial resources to leverage nearly $4 billion in new investments, helping to redevelop communities like Newark and Camden among many others.

Leslie Anderson

How are opportunity zones selected?

In short, Opportunity Zones are selected based on need. The program is intended to increase investment in low-income urban and rural communities. In New Jersey, we’re placing a special focus on what we refer to as “Tier 2” cities, which are the smaller cities that have an even more difficult time attracting investment because investors often prefer larger and more high profile markets. Currently 75 municipalities, representing every county in New Jersey, have received at least one Opportunity Zone.

The specific formula that we used to select which neighborhoods are designated Opportunity Zones is based on key economic indicators, including income, unemployment rate, property values, geographic distribution, access to transit, and the value of existing investments including those encouraged by state programs and incentives. We also worked to ensure that local mayors and our Congressional delegation had a voice in the selection process.

What are your thoughts on the notion that Opportunity Zones contribute to gentrification of Black communities?

 I certainly understand that concern as does Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. This is why we are creating an inclusive process that intentionally engages the communities that have been designated as Opportunity Zones.

We worked with the Governor’s Office and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) on a website and interactive mapping tool that creates a comprehensive resource for residents, local governments, and potential businesses and investors so there’s a level playing field and community organizations and residents are empowered with the access to information needed to make these decisions about their own communities. The Governor’s Office is holding a series of community forums in order to listen to the needs of each community and address concerns that may arise.

Dr. Lena Francis Edwards Apartments – The 64-Unit Development Named After a Pioneer African American Surgeon will Provide Affordable Housing for Families and Homeless Veterans

NJRA is also a crucial partner to the Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds, which allows us to identify designated redevelopment areas, and also ready-to-go projects. In this selection process, it is our goal that these new developments will be beneficial to all residents in a community.

A danger that we’ve identified currently in developing communities is that we’re seeing significant economic development in the downtown areas of our urban cities, but we’re not seeing the same progress in the neighborhoods outside of city centers.

NJRA has work hard to establish a legacy in the state of New Jersey of impacting and empowering local residents. Our core objective is to not only bring new investment, but to train the residents and community members in these areas to take charge of and leverage the change that’s occurring in their communities for their benefit.

What would you say is NJRA’s biggest success story?

I believe our biggest success story is the reputation we’ve established for being there first. Underserved urban communities face complex challenges, and NJRA is often the first entity to invest in vital redevelopment projects.

For this reason, the Authority adopted the tagline “we’re there first.” By investing first, NJRA communicates support and confidence to investors who may have overlooked a community. We often serve as the catalyst for private investment.

The Heldrich Hotel, New Jersey – Benchmark Hotel International

In 2014, we applied for and were awarded $20 million in New Market Tax Credits from the federal government, which allowed us to expand our reach and strengthen our impact.

This funding enabled the development of the Ray and Joan Kroc Center in Camden, a community and economic development project that provides health, education, training, and recreation services to low-income seniors, children, and families.

Ray & Joan Kroc Center – Provides a holistic approach to quality childcare, recreation, health and wellbeing services for distressed neighborhoods in Camden.

The Kroc Center serves 72 low-income children, 900 low-income residents at the health care center, and 1,000 households at the food pantry. Without the subsidy provided by our New Market Tax Credits this project would not have advanced.

What are some other NJRA programs that can spur economic growth in the Black community?

We have a number of exceptional programs designed to spur economic growth in Black and Latinx communities.

The Redevelopment Investment Fund (RIF): RIF provides flexible debt and equity financing for business and real estate ventures. Through RIF, NJRA offers direct loans, real estate equity, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancements.

NJRA Bond Program: The Bond Program issues both taxable and tax-exempt bonds to stimulate revitalization in New Jersey’s urban areas. Bonds are issued at favorable interest rates to a broad range of qualified businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Urban Site Acquisition Program (NJUSA): In 1998, NJRA was provided with $25,000 to administer NJUSA, which is a revolving loan where funds are provided to facilitate the components of an urban redevelopment plan such as the acquisition, site preparation, or redevelopment of property. NJUSA also provides for-profit and nonprofit developers and municipalities with a form of bridge financing to acquire titles to property and other acquisition-related costs.

What type of projects would you most like to see in the communities you serve?

Currently, our number one goal is to ensure that the targeted low-income communities receive and fully benefit from the funding opportunities that will be generated by the Opportunity Zones. So we’ve been focused on identifying more high-impact redevelopment projects in these neighborhoods to ensure that the economic resurgences are reaching all residents.

To bolster our efforts, we’re also working on training municipal officials in these areas on the best practices for attracting redevelopment through our Redevelopment Training Institute.

What advice do you have for Black business owners and investors that are interested in economic development of their communities?

My advice for Black business owners and investors would be to take advantage of the variety of support services and resources that the public sector offers. There are financial incentives, public financing opportunities, and training programs that exist to help underserved business owners and investors. I already highlighted some of our financing programs.

Additionally, about 12 years ago, we created the Redevelopment Training Institute (RTI). It is a nationally recognized and regionally accredited training program that provides custom workshops on topics related to the complexities of the redevelopment process as well as the various financial incentives available to real estate developers and investors. Since its inception, RTI has trained over 2,000 entrepreneurs, developers, nonprofits, attorneys, and elected officials.

Classes are offered regionally across the state of New Jersey, but can also be customized to your organization’s needs and delivered at your location. Participants from outside of New Jersey are also welcome. I encourage business owners and investors to sign up for RTI workshops. I invite those who are interested to visit www.njra.us/rti for more information.

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Meet The Black Real Estate Developer Who Built Her Own 51 Home Community

Pam Brown Courtney is a real estate developer/investor and educator. She’s also the only person I know of that has built a 51 home subdivision from the ground up. Obviously, we had to know more about this amazing woman.

Black Real Estate Developer
Pam Brown Courtney

How did you get started in Real Estate?

A friend of mine’s mother was a real estate investor and I started volunteering to help her keep up with her files, collect her rent, and help her clean out her rental houses.

So, the more I volunteered to help her, the more she taught me, and the more she taught me ,the more I liked it. The more I like it, the more I loved it, and the more I loved it was the more I asked her about it.

Black Real Estate Developer
What inspired you to develop Covenant Cove Community?

I saw this amazing community in Little Rock that looked similar to mine, in my opinion. It had the same kind of feel to it. It was cute and it was small. It was just a nice little community. So I went over there to the community to look around at some of the houses, and the people weren’t friendly toward me.

I didn’t want to live in a neighborhood where people weren’t friendly. So, I went home and said, “You know what, I can build my own community like that and I’ll be nice to the people that live there.” That’s exactly where the idea came from.

How did you locate and decide on the location for Covenant Cove?

The Universal God gave the location to me. I’d like to make it sound really fancy like I hired some architects, engineers, realtors, prospect lookers, and investors. That sounds really professional and all of that. But the real prophetic thing is that I asked the Universal God to help me.

I told him I was new at this, and I needed some guidance and direction. He sent me to a vacant piece of land and said, “Here it is right here.” I don’t even think it had a for sale sign on it.

It was just a vacant piece of woods and the Universal God said, “This is it. This is what I’ve been saving for you.” That’s the truth. I know it doesn’t sound all fancy, but I’ve got to give it to you. That’s just the way I received it.

One of your renovation projects seems to have a special personal meaning. Can you explain why the Ponder’s Drug Store project may be especially important to you?

Ponder’s Drug Store has special meaning to me because I am a Little Rock Central High alumna, class of 1982. The older I get the more I realize the benefit of being able to graduate from Little Rock Central High School.

Pam Brown Little Rock Central High School Alumni Class of ’82

With all that happened in 1957, Ponder’s is really dear to me because Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock 9, tried to escape the loveless behavior of the mob that was being rude to her and she went to Ponder’s and they locked the door in her face and wouldn’t let her in.

So now that we own Ponder’s, we are going to unlock the door and allow everybody that’s anybody to join in with all the good things we have to offer them with our upcoming Student Educational Historic District.

In this Sept. 4, 1957, photo, students of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., shout insults at Elizabeth Eckford as she calmly walks toward a line of National Guardsmen.

The district will be the new home of Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Professional Development and so much more for all students.

Black Real Estate Developer
Why is it important for you to speak to the younger generation about real estate?

It’s important to me because someone invested that into me. Someone planted the seed of hope in me. I’m not going to say that every young person should get involved in Real Estate. As a matter of fact, I don’t think they should. What I do think is true is that I want to expose young people to Real Estate and what’s available in the Real Estate world.

With that being done, they get to decide. You can’t choose to do something if you don’t know it exists. So my job is just to plant the seed and to create options. That’s one of my favorite words, “Options”. I like you to know what options are available; and if I expose you to them, now you know they exist and you get to do with that information what you wish. But you can’t decide what you want to do if you don’t know it exists.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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Tyler Perry Just Sold His Former Studio Lot For $18.5 Million

In 2007 Tyler Perry purchased his first studio lot. A year ago, the property was put for sale (for $25 million), so that the company could move to a larger studio on the grounds of an old abandoned Army base (Fort McPherson) located just outside Atlanta. The studio reportedly sold for $18.5 million and closed on Dec. 13, 2018.

tyler perry
Former TPS listed the studio in July for $25 million

The property was purchased by Ozzie Areu, former president of production of Tyler Perry Studios, and his brother, Will Areu. To purchase the complex, the Areu Bros. raised $4.5 million in a recent funding round, according to an SEC filing. According to an Areu Bros. release, they will be the first Latinos to own and run a major film and television studio in the United States. Will Areu will continue to work for Tyler Perry Studios as president of production.

Previously the world headquarters for Delta Airlines, the lot in the Greenbriar area of Southwest Atlanta sits on 60 acres and includes five sound stages, four office buildings (126,000 square feet) with executive offices, post-production facilities, a theater, a commissary, and fitness center.

The studio also has a back lot consisting of a suburban neighborhood with eleven homes and a city street.

Ozzie Areu,(R) former president of production of Tyler Perry Studios, and his brother, Will Areu (L)

 

Tyler Perry Studios at Ft. McPherson

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)

 

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This Family Owned Business Closed over $500 Million in Real Estate Deals In One Year

National Standard Abstract is a family-owned title insurance company located in Floral Park, NY. In 2018 they closed more than $500 million in commercial real estate transactions and have since closed over $1billion in transactions!

In June 2018, NSA closed a total of $432 million in faith-based and affordable-housing development transactions. The non-faith-based deals include the $189 million Archer Green in Jamaica, Queens; the $47 million Regina Pacis Housing in Gravesend, Brooklyn; and a $42 million project in Harlem.

We spoke with NSA founder and CEO, Osei Rubie to learn more about him, his background and future plans.

family owned
Osei Rubie

What led you to get involved in the title insurance industry?

14 years ago, I was refinancing my personal residence and once I realized that title insurance was required; I did not want to pay for this cost, perceiving it as optional. The bank attorney then explained that this was a mandatory cost that the bank required to confirm that they were no current defects in title, violations, liens, or outstanding judgments.

I then asked the bank attorney, who happened to be a friend of mine, if he had a business relationship with the title insurance company; which led to him setting up a meeting for me to speak with them after the closing. After meeting with the company, I learned that they were not only publicly traded, but the largest underwriter of title insurance in the country.

At the time I was working with a pharmaceutical company, so when a permanent position to begin as a sales executive 2 weeks after we met was offered, I accepted thus beginning my career in the title insurance industry.

NSA focuses on faith-based affordable housing development projects. Why did you decide to focus on this niche?

New York City’s independent churches represent a significant portion of land ownership. As a result of Mayor de Blasio’s housing initiative, developers are constantly looking for new opportunities to create development projects, leading to the partnering of the two entities to create a faith-based affordable housing market.

This opportunity allowed us at National Standard Abstract to achieve our business mission in conjunction with our social mission.  Here at National Standard Abstract, we strive to identify new sources of transactions to provide title insurance; as well as focusing on underdeveloped communities and advancing the growth of affordable housing.

It has been said that it takes the same amount of time to close a $100,000 deal as it does a $1M deal. Would you agree or not? 

The layered complexities of real estate transactions vary dependent upon the sector of real estate the specific transaction falls under, (ie: residential, commercial, affordable housing, faith-based development, multi-state transactions). There have been times where the amount of effort for a transaction under $500,000 may resemble a multi-million-dollar transaction.

But normally, no I do not find it commonplace that a multi-million-dollar transaction and a $100,000 residential transaction, require the same amount of problem-solving and transaction focus.

Your father is an entrepreneur. Briefly describe his influence on your professional life.

My grandfather (Costa Rican), as well as my mother and father, were all entrepreneurs, in addition to numerous other family members. We lived in Liberia, West Africa for several years during my childhood, during which my mother and father started multiple businesses that included, 3 clothing retail stores for men and women, a clothing manufacturing facility for school and military uniforms, as well as a restaurant.

Upon our return to the United States, my parents were driven by the void of representation for black children within the toy industry. The passion to fill this void gave birth to one of the first mass-produced black toy lines in the country, Huggy Bean Doll. This product was in all major retailers on a national basis that sold toys (Toys R US, Walmart, Kmart, Target, etc.).

I was directly involved in this process at the end of my high-school career, by actively presenting new toy product lines to these retailers. This intense exposure to entrepreneurship both domestically and internationally was the ultimate training ground.

family owned
Osei Rubie (right), founder and CEO of NSA and his son, Nadir Rubie.

In the past 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?

The Power of Faith and Overcoming Doubt.

When I started in title insurance, they were many comments made to me that it was unlikely that I would be able to succeed as an entrepreneur in title insurance. So much so that people would tell me that my aspirations of owning my own firm were time not well spent.

In October of 2017 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This potentially terminal illness also has another layer of complexity in that there has been a significant advancement in technologically for this procedure (laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP)). In the past, 10-12 years ago, this procedure could have a variety of results including impotence, but with new laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, this risk has been substantially minimized.

I had the surgery February of this year and when first diagnosed I was told that because of my aggressive and intense schedule with my business I would need to adjust my schedule accordingly and to expect my business revenue and sales goals to be reduced. Mental and physical conditioning has always been a major part of my business and life prep toolbox.

I’m happy to say that I defeated cancer this year making a complete recovery; while simultaneously having my best year in title insurance in my 14-year career.

Where do you see this business in 5 years?

Our goal within the next 5 years is to be the premier provider of title insurance nationally. We have provided title insurance for 2 multi-million-dollar commercial transactions in the state of New Jersey since we have begun in 2015, one for $15 million and the other for $35 million.

Our pipeline is filled with new out of state multi-million-dollar commercial transactions. Our focus on continuing to strengthen our position of leadership in the state of New York on multi-million-dollar commercial transactions will grow from this year’s banner accomplishment of over $600 million dollars closed and $274 million in Faith-Based development

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First, assemble an informal team and then transition to a formal advisory team, including but not limited to legal, accounting, financing, and expert or experts within the field that you have an interest in.

By surrounding yourself with these individuals to give feedback and technical instruction on processes and procedures in your industry of interest, you can maximize your ability to bypass traditional problems and errors in a startup environment, and also maximize your ability to accomplish “stretch goals” in a short period of time.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

Related: This Black Owned Commercial Real Estate Firm Has Done Over $15 Billion in Transactions


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DMV Realtor, Eze Okwodu Wants You To Buy and Sell #TheEzeWay

As important as it is to recognize business owners and entrepreneurs, it is just as important to recognize the professionals and service providers who are excelling in their different fields of practice. Eze Okwodu is one such professional.
Eze is a Realtor at Exit Flagship, serving the Washington D.C. Metro Area. With over fifteen years of experience as a real estate investor, Eze is committed to helping his clients find their dream properties that not only meet their needs but are sound financial investments.

Eze Okwodu (Realtor) Washington D.C.)

Why did you decide to become a realtor?

I decided to become a Realtor because I felt it would give me the opportunity to buy larger buildings at a more affordable rate.

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I am #TheEzeWay

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In addition to being a realtor, you are also a real estate investor. How has that helped your career so far?

It has helped in several ways, for one I am already very familiar with the inner workings of the real estate industry. Since I am a landlord I can see things from the perspective of a client who wants to purchase an investment property. I can also understand the struggle that tenants go through trying to save money to make a purchase.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my Spare time, I enjoy reading fiction, hiking, long distance runs. I love trying out different vegan restaurants in the city.

You serve the DMV area. What changes are you noticing that market?

The prices of homes in DC are growing very very fast. My advice is to do everything you can to buy property in DC. Even if it’s a one bedroom shack, it would be wise to buy something based on where the predicted future appreciation of property in the city.

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Testimonials #TheEzeWay

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How has the pandemic affected your business?

With the majority of people now confined to their current living spaces and now also having more time to think about their comfort and future, coronavirus has actually increased business for me. I get a lot more inquiries about refinancing and wanting to buy larger homes.

In a way, it makes sense because social distancing has forced people to be more reflective about their home environment and how important it is to live in the best place possible, especially if you have to stay there nonstop for long periods of time, as is the case right now.

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I am #TheEzeWay

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What marketing strategies have you implemented recently?

I’ve increased my marketing by 50% and also started working closely with loan officers. I’ve also started using Zoom and other web-conferencing platforms to host financial literacy workshops that have been a real hit in the community.

These workshops give people an opportunity to continue to improve their potential to become new homeowners.

In addition to that, I share images and videos of some of my current property listings on social media platforms and set up one-one-one follow ups for those ready to buy.

You’d be surprised how many people are willing to buy new homes in this environment.

What advice do you have for those interested in becoming a real estate agent?

It’s not as simple as people make it sound. The best advice I can give is to come in ready to work harder than any job you’ve ever had.

Where do you see your practice in the next 5 years?

In 5 years I will own my own real estate brokerage.

Contact info:
EXIT Flagship Realty
1221 Caraway Court, Suite #1040
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Cell:  (301) 559 2872

Tony O. Lawson


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$500 Million Black Woman Owned Investment Firm is Rebuilding D.C. with Foreign Dollars

When Angelique Brunner moved to the nation’s capital two decades ago, she was shocked to find neighborhoods with no stores, no services, and burned-out buildings.

Black woman owned investment firm

Black Woman Owned Investment Firm

“I started asking around about what is going on here, people told me it was the riots,” she tells Fast Company. “I said, ‘Oh, what riots?’ They said, ‘The Martin Luther King riots.’ I said, ‘The riots were in 1968. So, this is why D.C. doesn’t have grocery stores, and it’s giving away houses for a dollar?’”

The local city government was, in fact, selling off long-abandoned homes for a buck to developers who had the money to rebuild. Some of Washington’s once vibrant black neighborhoods never quite recovered from the unrest in the days following the assassination of the civil rights leader and the subsequent departure of the middle class.

Brunner was stunned and, armed with her degrees in public policy from Brown and Princeton, started learning the ropes in venture capital and then real estate development—determined to make a difference.

And she is making a difference, bringing jobs, homes, and new business to once blighted streets.

The NoMa neighborhood seen from the top of Uline Arena in Northeast Washington. With the hotels, restaurants and amenity-rich apartments comes the specter of gentrification to a historically African American neighborhood of modest row homes. (Jared Soares/For The Washington Post)

As president of EB5 Capital, which she founded a decade ago, Brunner is now one of the driving forces in the revitalization of D.C., leveraging a controversial program that puts rich foreign investors on a path to citizenship in return for their investment dollars.

FOUNDING HER OWN COMPANY

The road to founding her own firm was paved during those first years, initially at a VC firm. “I  was the only African American female from New York to Atlanta that was in venture capital.” She later moved to Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association), where she became an expert in community investing.

“Laypeople might assume that urban areas struggle to get development dollars because no one wants to build there. I learned through the late 1990s and early 2000s that there has always been interest, just not the financing needed to actually execute,” she says.

It was during this time that she became familiar with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and saw an opportunity to bring development dollars to neighborhoods that others did not want to touch. So with the gap in money needed persisting to complete urban projects, and the scars from the riots still showing, she founded EB5 Capital.

“I felt motivated to address this, which is why my second project ever was a grocery store on 7th Street in Northwest D.C. that also had an affordable senior housing component,” she says.

Since then, Brunner has helped connect foreign investors with several major D.C. gems, including City Market at O Street, bringing new residential and commercial life to a once dilapidated but beloved historic city site. Brunner is also behind D.C.’s Columbia Place development, bringing two new Marriott hotels to the downtown convention center area.

JOB CREATOR

Brunner sees her mission as twofold: Rebuilding the capital’s neighborhoods and bringing new jobs to people who desperately need them. And she is an unabashed fan of the EB-5 program, which is up for renewal—and reform—in U.S. Congress. Job creation is at the core of the program, which was founded in 1990 and is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It offers foreign investors green cards in return for job-creating investments in domestic development projects.

“People are willing to invest in the United States for an expedited visa process. The only hitch is that you have to create jobs with the money they invest,” she says—10 for every $500,000.

“We are focused on job creation, but livable cities require jobs and affordable housing,” Brunner explains. Gentrification, like the luxury apartments that now make up the O Street Market, is necessary, but there are ways to mitigate the displacement that sometimes follows.

“First, as a financier of multifamily housing developments, we are able to advocate for higher than required moderate- and low-income housing set-asides,” she says. “We work with a particularly sensitive developers committed to the mixed-income fabric of our neighborhoods.”

EB5 Capital’s latest project in Washington, D.C., has 14% of its rental units set aside as affordable housing–the District of Columbia’s inclusionary zoning program only requires between 8% and 10%.

Black woman owned investment firm
NoMa — adjacent to Union Market — has the highest concentration of EB-5 financed projects in the city, said an official with an EB-5 lobbying group. (Jared Soares/For The Washington Post)

The company also focuses on bringing living-wage employment opportunities to areas that need them. “Be it working in the construction trades or an entry-level position at one of our hotel projects, I believe jobs that present meaningful advancement opportunities, located in the areas that are being developed, are very important to strengthening the fabric of a mixed-income community,” Brunner adds.

“You can actually have financial gains in a neighborhood that don’t necessarily change the racial fabric of a neighborhood initially. To me, the only way to address the addition of economic opportunity is to consciously create mixed-income neighborhoods.”

“We’re not a manufacturing city. We’re not a place where we can easily absorb a non-educated labor population. We struggle with that, and so we have to bring retail, and we have to bring the jobs into those neighborhoods,” she says.

PRESERVING THE EB-5 PROGRAM

EB5 Capital is now worth $500 million and has 35 employees with 12 nationalities who speak 16 different languages, and have visited more than 90 countries. The  company’s portfolio also expands to cities like L.A., New York, and Nashville.

Brunner and her firm have an unblemished history with the USCIS, but the EB-5 program in recent years has come under increased scrutiny.  “I think our company has used the program effectively and in a way that creates a cascade of benefits for their respective cities, including new jobs, new housing, and new business opportunities,” she says.

Construction seen from the roof of the Homewood Suites in Northeast Washington. (Jared Soares/For The Washington Post)

Still, critics have called the sale of citizenship to high bidders unseemly. The AP reported that in return for nearly $8 billion in investment, the USCIS has approved 40,000 visas for Chinese nationals and their families.  A company owned by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, came under SEC scrutiny earlier this year for its dependency on EB-5.

And just this week, more than a dozen Chinese investors in Royal Palm Beach in South Florida sued, claiming they were defrauded by American developers.

Brunner, who has testified before Congress on reforming the program, says she supports efforts to tighten accountability.

“The EB-5 industry has been advocating for new legislation for the program, and I am in full support of strong integrity measures to ensure it’s being used as intended and in a lawful manner,” she says.

 

Source: Fast Company and The Washington Post

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Shaq Partners With Black Owned Real Estate Development Firm to Build $79M Apartment Tower in N.J.

Shaquille O’Neal is partnering with a Black owned real estate development firm to build a 22-story apartment complex that will hover over the city’s downtown as its first high-rise in more than 50 years.

Black owned real estate development firm

“I remember when I was growing up (the city) used to be beautiful like this so the older I get, I want it to be a little more beautiful,” O’Neal told NJ Advance Media. “I invest in things that are going to make a difference.”

On Tuesday, O’Neal, a Newark native, was joined by Gov. Phil Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Mayor Ras Baraka to mark a milestone in the building’s construction.

“Yet another piece of evidence that this city is on the rise, let there be no doubt about it,” Murphy said. “This is a city that has got a trajectory that is undeniable … as our big urban centers go, first and foremost as Newark goes, so goes the state of New Jersey.”

Black owned real estate development firm

The $79 million luxury apartments, developed by Boraei Development and O’Neal, are steps from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the renovated Hahne & Co. building that includes a Whole Foods and the newest restaurant by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

The 168 apartments at 1 Rector Street will open by the end of the year with residents able to apply for a lease as soon as September, Wasseem Boraie told NJ Advance Media. He said the company bought the property — which used to house the old Science Park High School10 years ago — but construction didn’t begin until last October.

Wasseem Boraie, executive vice president of Boraie Development

“We were waiting for the right time,” Boraie said, citing new businesses in the area. “We all then build up around the supply.”

O’Neal also announced a new $150 million, 350-unit apartment complex with Boraie (whom he called “the Kobe Bryant of development”). The 35-story building on 777 McCarter Highway will be known as the “House that Shaq Built,” O’Neal said.

“I was born and raised here, I love this city,” O’Neal said during a press conference after struggling to lift the microphones at the podium to his height.

O’Neal recalled a 1992 visit to Newark to see his relatives. “My mother says to me, ‘I remember when this city used to be beautiful, somebody needs to come back and invest in this city and make it beautiful again,’ then she gave me the elbow to the chest like I’m that somebody,” he said.

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Kofi Nartey Discusses How He Sells Million Dollar Homes to High Net Worth and Celeb Clients

Kofi Nartey has over fourteen years of professional experience in luxury real estate and has sold millions of dollars worth of real estate.
The former athlete and actor is currently the Celebrity and Luxury Homes Specialist and the National Director of the Compass Sports & Entertainment Division.

We caught up with Kofi to find out more about how he has managed and trained hundreds of agents, and built a successful real estate business.

How did you decide to get into real estate?

I have always been an entrepreneur and real estate is an industry that has allowed me to build a business. I get to use my business school training, team skills from my sports days, negotiation skills, and interpersonal skills.

It is also rewarding to help people build wealth through investing.

You often work with celebrities and professional athletes. What does it take to attract and keep hi net worth clients?

You have to understand their lifestyles and know how to service them better. They have different wants, needs, and concerns.

Kofi and LA Laker, Lonzo Ball

The better positioned you are to proactively service those needs, the more likely you are to get their business. Once you get them, you keep them with amazing service and follow up.

Kofi and Philadelphia Sixer,  Joel Embiid

What are some new and innovative ways you market your services or listings and what “old school” methods are still effective?

I have a saying when it comes to innovation in industries: “Two-thirds tried and true, one-third sexy and new.”  Sometimes industries are so innovative, they don’t connect with the consumer. We use technology to improve the client experience and make it more efficient.

Compass, the brokerage I work for, is at the forefront of real estate technology and we use these tools to stay ahead of the market. For the tried and true, you still have to engage and connect with people on a personal level. You may use technology to reach them, but personal engagement will keep them.

People measure success in different ways. What does success in business and in life look like to you?

That’s a simple one. To me success is realizing all of your God given gifts and sharing them with the world. This means, working daily to realize your potential in whatever you are doing and share that potential with those around you.

What advice do you have for fairly new real estate professionals who want to take their business to the next level?

1. Be ready to work hard. Nothing replaces hard work…not even technology.

2. Find a mentor. Find someone in you can learn from or join a team that gives you more exposure and resources.
3. Set longer term goals. Set your goals a year to three years out, then work daily to accomplish them. Nothing amazing happens over night.

4. Lastly, Focus & Finish. This is a mantra I created and have lived by for a decade. Focus on the small steps that lead to your big goals.

 

– Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG: @thebusyafrican)