Inaugural Jumpstart Germantown meeting brings out larger-than-expected crowd of developers

 Networking at Jumpstart Germantown meeting. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Networking at Jumpstart Germantown meeting. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Developers of all ages and experience levels met at the Greatness Is In You Performance Arts Space at 4811 Germantown Ave. last week for Jumpstart Germantown’s first Developer’s Network Meeting.

The network meeting is one of three components of the Jumpstart Germantown real estate development partnership designed by local developer Ken Weinstein. By providing financing options, a mentorship program, and a developers network group, Weinstein—who himself has rehabbed hundreds of properties in Philadelphia—hopes to empower small developers to fix up the long neglected areas of the Germantown neighborhood.

More than 80 attendees gathered to hear words of wisdom from Weinstein, who launched the partnership in April.

Weinstein believes the meetings will help alleviate the common practice of developers withholding information from one another in an effort to be competitive.

“The goal of Jumpstart Germantown, and particularly this developers network, is expanding the pie. The majority of people in real estate don’t share experiences, they don’t share resources. They believe that the pie is fixed; that if you get a property that means there’s one less property for me,” he said. “I don’t believe that. I believe we can expand. Drive around Germantown for a few minutes, look at all the work we have to do; look at all the buildings that need to be renovated. There’s endless work here. What we want to do is give people the resources they need, and let them expand that pie.”

Among those in attendance at the network meeting were Gabriella and Oliver Somoza, a brother and sister team of developers who were one of the first three applicants to participate in the mentorship program. The duo recently purchased a duplex on Rubicam Street in East Germantown that they plan to renovate and rent with the help of financing and mentorship provided by Jumpstart Germantown.

Oliver said the support from Jumpstart Germantown has encouraged him to invest in additional properties in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood.

“One of the challenges for upstarting developers is to be able to get finance. And so it’s very nice to have a real estate developer like Ken who’s done so much to lend his time and experience and his money to help young developers or upstarting developers,” Oliver said. “We’re now very interested in investing in the neighborhood and making it better.”

Other attendees like East Oak Lane resident Sean Mosby and budding investor Cedrick Lane are in the beginning stages of their careers as developers. They came to the meeting seeking any bit of helpful information they could get.

“I came here to get knowledge and to make connections,” Mosby said. “I’m looking to purchase properties. Anything that they can provide to help me get started, I’m interested in.”

“I was interested in the networking and just learning about additional resources and access to funds for future deals. I’m not at the point where I’m purchasing properties for myself yet, but for future deals I would like to come out and meet people to find out additional ways to access funds,” Lane said.

Nancy Deephouse, a developer and coordinator for Jumpstart Germantown said the network meetings will be held quarterly to give developers an opportunity to connect with one another to share information and advice. Deephouse called the first meeting a success and said it was just one of several reasons why she thinks Jumpstart Germantown will be a buzz creator for Germantown.

“I prefer programs that are very actionable, that have very concrete steps and things we’re going to do that will immediately change or accomplish something. Everything about this program is very actionable,” she said. “I think it will have a significant and real impact. More people are getting empowered and energized, and it’s already creating a lot of buzz around Germantown.”

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