Real Estate can be a powerful tool for creating community benefit. Renewal has used investment capital and foundation assets in rural and urban real estate projects to further its social and environmental mission.
Endswell believes it is important to align foundation assets with mission-related investing. Recent projects include real estate investments designed to support and sustain non-profit organizations by developing infrastructure and creating a long-term asset base.
This well-known social justice law firm, and advocate for the most disadvantaged population, wanted to purchase a 10,000 square foot building in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Three private foundations came together with VanCity Community Credit Union, to place first and second mortgages for the purchase and renovation. Pivot earns 25% of the equity by paying rent for five years and representing the owner group in tenant mix and improvement of the property. All three foundations were able to refinance out all cash equity invested before the end of year two. www.pivotlegal.org
Endswell was the lead limited partner on the restoration of one of Vancouver’s oldest office buildings – the Flack Block. The lead developer was Salient, a specialist in adaptive reuse of historic buildings. The Flack Block sits at the boundary between the Downtown Eastside and the business centre of the city. On the same block is the storied Woodwards development, which includes 2,000 students at Simon Fraser University's School of Contemporary Arts and a city owned building dedicated to non-profit organizations. Across the street from the Flack Block is the Dominion Building, historic icon and home of 14 floors of progressive businesses and non-profits.
Renewal Land Company (RLC) was formed to address land use concerns on Cortes Island. In 2001 when a large industrial forest company announced their intention of selling their Cortes holdings, there was considerable concern that the sale would result in industrial-scale removal of forest on the properties, all for off-island profits. Likewise, there was legitimate concern that the demand for recreational properties would price locals out of the real estate market.
Familiar with the island community as homeowners and through long association with Hollyhock, Joel Solomon and Carol Newell saw an opportunity to develop a practical model for promoting conservation based land use using private real estate transactions. www.renewalpartners.com/renewalland
Two projects of RLC have been Siskin Lane and Twin Island and Hank’s Beach.
By combining several of the former Weyerhaeuser properties, and rezoning the 250 acres to “Forest Land Stewardship”, which permits a combination of low-impact residential housing, conservation, public trails, parks and eco-forestry, RLC created Siskin Lane. The 25 bare land strata lots were marketed on a cost recovery basis to attract local buyers and full time island residents. All surpluses accrued have been disbursed to community groups.
Throughout the project, from inception to completion, local residents and Cortes Island organizations were involved and extensively consulted on design of the residential lots, creation of the public parks and the structure of conservation covenants to protect forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
Renewal’s role in the Siskin Lane is complete. We have preserved the website as an historical snapshot of the project and the process of this unique development. www.renewalpartners.com/renewalland
Twin Island and Hank’s Beach are treasured natural areas representing the two largest unprotected acreages in the South Cortes area. Over a ten-year span, Renewal purchased both of these properties, placed extensive permanent protections on them, and resold, eventually recouping all original purchase costs.
In 2008, Hank’s Beach added 160 acres of secluded ocean front and rare bluff habitats to the permanently protected public access natural areas of the Island.
Village Real Estate Services
Renewal is an early stage and long-term investor in Village Real Estate in Nashville Tennessee. The aim of Village Real Estate is to build stronger, more progressive communities on smart growth principles, and to find new ways to create community and build neighborhood wealth.
From their beginnings in 1996, Village Real Estate Services has focused on real estate consumers seeking alternatives to cookie-cutter houses and urban sprawl. Village strives to recycle housing, with an emphasis on older, established neighborhoods. Believing that businesses should reinvest in the communities that sustain them, Village created the Village Fund, its philanthropic partner. This fund supports nonprofit initiatives that contribute to positive sustainable growth, citizen empowerment and social change.
Village’s commitment to the city core has resulted in hundreds of millions in sales and sparked a renaissance and re-inhabitation of old neighbourhoods. Nashville has experienced a new wave of design creativity, a revived and thriving arts scene and resurgence in local business. www.villagerealestate.com