real estate

New Dallas Initiative Brings Minority Developers to the Forefront

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A new Dallas initiative aims to bring minority real estate developers to the forefront. On Wednesday, Innovan Neighborhoods launched the Community Developers Roundtable to address gaps in affordable housing and community development.

It was an opportunity South Dallas native Jason Brown didn’t want to miss – to be in a room with other developers who look like him and have similar stories.

Brown is President and CEO of Dallas City Homes, a nonprofit community development organization. He credits an encounter years ago for leading him down this path.

“I’m in this position now because of someone that came to my career day back in middle school who was just talking about their involvement in commercial real estate and their niche in the market,” he said.

The journey hasn’t been easy though. He said access to surplus cash is difficult to tap into, and, for many, it can hinder growth in the industry.

“For a lot of us, we’re figuring this out as we go, and it's traditional bootstrap without the resources,” said Brown.

He said this is why Wednesday’s event was so important. Already, Community Developers Round Table raised more than $1.3 million. CDR will work in partnership with Business and Community Lenders of Texas.

Innovan Neighborhoods founder Maggie Parker, a Dallas native herself, said CDR exists in response to a critical need in North Texas.

“The developers of color are the ones that are representative of the neighborhoods that are most underserved,” said Parker. “So, we want to ensure that people are developing their own neighborhoods and that they have the resources, not just the capital but also the partnership.”

According to a 2021 report from the Urban Land Institute just over 8% of its more than 14,000 members were Black. 73% were white. The nonprofit reports access to capital remains a hurdle for Black developers.

For Parker, the solution is to ensure developers have the knowledge, exposure, a supportive community, and capital to make changes in neighborhoods whose best interests they have in mind.

Parker said the combined, lived experiences of the people involved with CDR will make for more robust, equitable and affordable communities.

“If you want your neighborhood to be different, if you want to ensure that you have a grocery store that’s in your community, these are developers that you want to be partnering with,” she said.

Brown said the far-reaching impact of this program will be immeasurable.

“Programs like this bring people together and gives us access to people who have years and years of experience,” he said. “It’s like closing the gap.”

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