Legacy Projects: Me
Sometimes people ask me, “what’s your dream project?” What I describe when I share that with people, is what was shared when I learned about New Market West and Eastern Lofts.
For those of you who may not know, I used to work at Urban Affairs Coalition- over 10 years ago. I recently reconnected with a friend of a friend from my college days, Jojy Varghese, Director of Community and Economic Development at the Urban Affairs Coalition. Through our conversations, he thought it’d be a good idea to be a part of their Impact Development subcommittee meeting, which I attended in early May and was able to learn about the New Market West project being developed by Mission First Housing.
The details of the project can be found on their website and online, so I won’t repost them here. But essentially what they did was build a relationship with Horizon House, a non-profit that needed to grow, who had equity to contribute because of the current value of the building they owned- which they intended to sell. Horizon House wanted their offices to be anchored in a community that they serve. From there, the tenants that would occupy the space would be a combination of businesses and housing that fill a need for that community.
I also had the opportunity to participate in a workshop last week, hosted by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority at Eastern Lofts in Strawberry Mansion. Leslie Smallwood-Lewis and Greg Reaves of Mosaic Development Partners spent 2 days sharing the ins and outs of the development process and were extremely transparent- Greg may think Leslie was a little too transparent- ha! What they were able to accomplish with Eastern Lofts, in addition to other projects they are involved with- is quite remarkable on so many levels. From the actual project, to the team they’ve assembled, to who they intend to occupy the property, to the vibe they want to create in the spaces they develop. They are true trailblazers that want to share their knowledge to help others succeed.
These are the types of projects that I intend to take on. No business can exist without it being profitable. But as I’m starting to learn, there are ways to develop that requires a little more time, effort, creativity and partnerships so that those who benefit from new development aren’t only those on the top. Shifting my focus from single family residential to mixed-use commercial is quite the process and won’t happen overnight. Since I've identified my purpose, doors to people and opportunities are continuously opening up that may have been there all along but I didn’t see because I was too focused on the short term. Don’t get me wrong, there is some overlap in skills- but gaining the knowledge and building the network to succeed takes time and I’m excited to share that my “project” has been connecting with people who share a similar vision.
I'm definitely guilty of feeling insecure of my own success when I don't have a big project that I'm working on. The process of re-building a house that's been vacant for over 10+ years is quite the project, but because it's a house we intend on living in- in my head, it "doesn't count." But it totally does. Between that, being a mom who wants to play an active role in my children's lives and taking action to build the Legacy I intend to create means being at peace with where I am- while taking the steps necessary so that I can grow.