A group of entrepreneurs in Houston, Texas has banned together to purchase entire sections of blocks to help revitalize and bring in a string of black-owned businesses.
Real Estate developer Chris Senegal has teamed up with broker, Jay Bradley, and the Cocoa Collective Xchange to bring black-owned businesses into Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhoods, in an initiative they’re calling, Buying the Block.
Senegal began his redevelopment mission after buying an old grocery store in Fith Ward and going on to purchase partially abandoned property near Liberty Road. With his new property, Senegal began building 14 new construction townhomes that attracted young black professionals as new homeowners.
Senegal has now expanded his redevelopment project to include other blocks where he will build new homes for families who have lived in the Fifth Ward for decades.
“When you end up finding someone who has a similar passion, the path becomes its own,” Bradley, owner of Equinox Realty Group told the Houston Chronicle. “The path at this point is to help the community.”
The current goal is to acquire more investors looking to help fund long-term rentals and commercial property that would include a restaurant, office space, and a coffee shop. So far, the initiative has raised $650,000 from 1,025 investors.
“I have enough to complete the project,” Senegal said. “Additional investor funds will be used to acquire adjacent properties to expand the scope of the project.”
After speaking with the community and realizing the often unfortunate effects of “flipping homes”, Senegal says he was motivated to launch Buying The Block.
“It takes a long time to realize the macro impact of flipping houses,” Senegal told the outlet. “People would ask me, ‘Are you about to raise the rent?’ or ‘Who are you bringing into the community because we can’t afford that.'”
Senegal spoke on the importance of investing into communities instead of draining them.
“When the community feels neglected, people come in and they don’t have an affiliation with the neighbors, ” Senegal said. “You need to give more of a sense of revitalization to the neighborhood.”
The broker on the project shares Senegal sentiments and also spoke of how important it is to give back to the community and invest in those who want to do good with the opportunity.
“You create opportunities to have something better in the community,” Bradley said. “At this point, it’s really about helping people who are trying to do good things with the community.”
Bradley added how important it is to have more health services for the neighborhood amid COVID-19.
“We would like to do mixed-use development, including a coffee shop, insurance office, and doctor’s office,” Bradley said. “The communities need more health resources to help support the neighborhood. When COVID-19 hit, they got hit the worst.”
Bradley boasted about the beauty and diversity of the city of Houston.
“We have the most diverse community in the country,” Bradley said. “There’s a need for diversity and inclusion so that everyone’s needs get met. It’s for Houston. We all thrive, and we are all better for it.”