The “Philadelphia State Of The Market” in Center City focused on development driving strategies to increase interest in Philadelphia and the factors that are impacting creation downtown.
Leslie Smallwood-Lewis, co-founder of the Mosaic Development Partners group was one of the guest speakers for the event Wednesday April 25 at 1818 Market Street.
Mosaic Development Partners is a boutique real estate firm in the Strawberry Mansion section of North Philadelphia responsible for the Eastern Lofts development.
“We don’t develop in the core of Center City and are more focused in our neighborhoods,” Smallwood-Lewis said.
“One prime example would be Eastern Lofts which is a mixed use project of 37 apartments, a community daycare center and 10 other small offices which are all African-American owned at this particular project,” Smallwood-Lewis said.
She said her company focuses on impacting the middle market where she believes there is a need, not just in Philadelphia but across the nation.
“This market consisting of millennials that are struggling with student loan debt, only a certain amount of disposable income in entry-level jobs and can’t afford to live in the Center City core.”
Smallwood-Lewis said being able to create a unique blend of financing capitals to prove that quality of housing to that middle market.
“We’ve been able to use those historic tax credits to be able to create a project where the rent is sustainable,” Smallwood-Lewis said. “We are 100 percent occupied and created a very strong community consisting of teachers, entry-level financial analysts and everyday hardworking people in a place where people wouldn’t think that could happen in Strawberry Mansion.”
She said dreaming big enough and planning hard enough can make these projects work.
Tawan Davis, CEO of the Steinbridge Group, was another guest speaker at the development discussion. He echoed Smallwood-Lewis’ focus on the middle working class market.
“Philadelphia is going through a renaissance and a real estate boom where a lot of that has been really focused on the really highly paid affluent residents,” Davis said.
“There’s been a lot of focus on building glass buildings in Center City and those two to four thousand dollar rental units don’t really speak to the majority of the cities residents,” Davis added.
He thinks because of this, the real opportunity in the city is to focus on working people such as the teacher or firefighter as two examples given.
“Philadelphia is still a city of 1.6 million working people and our strategy really focuses on providing homes for those families in the transition neighborhoods of the city,” he said. “As those neighborhoods improve and the surrounding areas improve people who have been long-term residents of the city and those neighborhoods can take part in those improves.”