Philly Office Retail, a real estate development partnership based in Germantown, plans on fixing up the community by nurturing the next generation of developers through a new program called Jumpstart Germantown.
The program will provide mentoring, networking, and funding to novice residential developers looking to invest in the area.
Ken Weinstein, local developer and president of Philly Office Retail, has spent 25 years rehabbing more than 250 vacant and deteriorated properties in Philadelphia.
“This is part of our never-ending effort to improve Germantown,” Weinstein said.
About six months ago, Weinsteinsaid he realized that the commercial corridor can’t continue to improve without upgrading the residential community. Rather than rehabbing all by himself, he decided it would be more efficient to train less inexperienced developers for the job.
“I want people in and around the community to build up their wealth and well-being by investing in real estate,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein will lead at least three formal mentoring sessions per year with an emphasis on providing opportunities to minority and women investors. Each mentoring session will consist of nine hours of instruction on real estate acquisition, construction, financing, leasing and property management.
Eight developers will be chosen for mentoring. The first round of applications will be due May 6 and the first group will be selected by May 13.
Jumpstart Germantown will also provide a source of funding for residential development projects in the area via a $2 million credit line from JPMorgan Chase. Approved applicants will receive up to 95 percent of the total cost of acquisition and construction.
“The two biggest hurdles for new developers are experience and funding,” Weinstein said. “Jumpstart Germantown is designed to help people get over those hurdles.”
Nancy Deephouse, a developer and Germantown resident, will coordinate the Developers’ Network by hosting quarterly meetings and communicating weekly through email and social media.
A part-time math teacher in Chestnut Hill, Deephouse believes the network will allow developers to form partnerships, share good contractors, and exchange tenant inquires.
“Each individual developer has his or her own goals, but together we have a collective goal to improve Germantown,” Deephouse said. “There are so many intelligent people in this community that we can all learn from.”
Andrew Trackman, Executive Director of Germantown United CDC, is excited about the program’s potential of luring entrepreneurs to the area.
“There’s definitely a need for good, affordable housing,” Trackman said. “Germantown United’s mission is to revitalize the business corridors so this program certainly complements our goal of improving the mix of retail in Germantown.”
Weinstein noted that within two days of announcing the initiative, 11 people applied for the mentoring program and one person applied for the loan.
“By the end of 2015, I expect mentees and loan recipients to produce at least 30 renovations and that number could easily double by 2016,” Weinstein said.
Philly Office Retail owns and manages more than 600,000 square feet of commercial space in the Philadelphia region.
To apply for Jumpstart Germantown, visit PhillyOfficeRetail.com.