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Menkiti Group’s first Worcester project aiming for April opening

WBJ- Menkiti Group- 6 Chatham

Written and Published by Worcester Business Journal

By Grant Welker – Almost six years after the Menkiti family bought its first downtown Worcester property, residents will soon be moving into a new housing site in an old YWCA the family’s development firm has renovated.

The new development, called Chatham Lofts, brings 24 apartments to a six-story building off Main Street a short walk from the Hanover Theatre, a part of downtown just south of City Hall city officials have prioritized for new development and investment.

Chatham Lofts is roughly two-third complete, with plans for an opening to residents around April. Pre-leasing marketing has begun in the past few weeks.

The Menkiti Group, a Washington, D.C., property developer, bought the Chatham Street site in April 2015, spending $800,000 on a deal that didn’t make big news at the time. Four years ago, Ifeanyi Menkiti, a Wellesley College professor, bought the former Shack’s men’s clothing store building at Main and Mechanic streets. The idea then was for a cultural center to complement his art endeavors in Cambridge, including the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square, which he bought in 2006.

PHOTO | GRANT WELKER Chatham Lofts will include some units with 14-foot-high windows.

Menkiti died in 2019, but the family’s plans for Worcester have continued, and the Menkiti Group has become a high-profile name in Worcester development.

Chatham Lofts, in a tan brick building that was initially a YWCA boarding house dating to the 1890s, is the first of what could be a series of downtown Worcester buildings that the Menkiti Group brings back to use — and to their historic architectural appearance. In addition to Chatham Lofts and the Shack’s building, the firm has a five-story, 53,000-square-foot building similarly dating to the late 1800s at 542 Main St., whose office and first-floor retail space sit vacant today. Next door at 536 Main St., a building long known for its use as a pawn shop and check-cashing store, awaits a new use.

A few blocks up Main Street past the old Shack’s building, Menkiti owns 204 Main St., the home of Courthouse Cafe. Like the Shack’s building, a modern siding addition once covering its historical facade has been removed, with further renovation work to come.

Those other projects are in various stages of progress toward completion.

The Shack’s building, including a restoration of its brick exterior, could open for a new Bank of America office by late summer or early fall. The building, which was designed by the same architect as Mechanics Hall, will recapture its former architectural glory, said Mark Rengel, the Menkiti Group’s vice president of development.

“It looks like a new building,” Rengel said.

PHOTO | GRANT WELKERTile from a former indoor swimming pool has been retained to form walls in some units and along a hallway.

The glass-facade building at 536 Main St. is undergoing hazardous material abatement, with renovation work expected to begin in earnest later this year. The building is slated for first-floor commercial use and upstairs offices. Next door, 554 Main St. requires the least renovation work, and already has two proposed uses: an eatery called Center Stage Bistro and a boxing gym, which Menkiti hopes can open this year. They’re slated to be joined by upper-floor offices.

The smaller building at 204 Main St., once a furniture showroom and warehouse, remains in an earlier design phase with work planned to start by the end of the year. The building is planned to include 20 residential units above the Courthouse Cafe and another retail tenant.

As for Chatham Lofts, the nearly $10-million renovation was helped by historic tax credits that discounted about a quarter of that cost, Rengel said, attributing the aid to making the project feasible. The building sat empty for most of the past decade, and its renovation has included some unique touches. Tile from an indoor swimming pool remains as part of a wall in some units, as well as part of a hallway. Arched windows that reach 14 feet in height are the focus point of 24-foot ceiling heights in duplexes built into what used to be the building’s gymnasium.

Renovating such an old and complex building, which is actually several structures that date to different years, took significant work, Rengel said.

“It was fairly complex,” he said. “There were a lot of hairy situations that we had to untangle.”

Rents will start at roughly $1,400 for a one-bedroom unit, which can range in size from 525 feet to as much as 1,183 square feet for a duplex. A sixth-floor penthouse spans 1,466 feet, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

NewRez and Shelter Mortgage Partner with The Menkiti Group to Launch Mission Mortgage LLC

DC Based Minority Entrepreneur Teams Up with Leading National Mortgage Lender and Servicer

Reported on December 7, 2020

The Menkiti Group | 3401 8th Street NE | Washington | DC 20017


(FORT WASHINGTON, PA) NewRez LLC (“NewRez”), a national mortgage lender and servicer, announced today, in partnership with The Menkiti Group, a DC-based, minority-owned integrated real estate services company, the launch of a new joint venture mortgage company, Mission Mortgage LLC (“Mission Mortgage”). Mission Mortgage, focused on residential mortgage lending, will be headquartered in Washington, DC (“DC”), with clients across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The new joint venture lender is led by Tom O’Keefe, a 25-year mortgage industry veteran and will be NewRez’s 19th JV partnership under the portfolio of Shelter Mortgage Company, LLC (“Shelter Mortgage”), the NewRez business division focused on joint venture lending. 

The Menkiti Group’s mission is to transform lives, careers and communities through real estate. The associated family of companies, led by Bo Menkiti, its Founder and CEO, are focused on strengthening neighborhoods through the strategic development, management, and sale of residential and commercial property. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line firm, measuring not only financial success but social impact as well. NewRez contributes to the community as a corporation and promotes employee volunteerism and contribution through its community investment program, NewRez Neighborhood Outreach Works (“NOW”). Both companies have a deep passion for strengthening and giving back to the communities in which their employees live and work.

“The Menkiti Group is the perfect fit for a partnership as we continue to grow our Joint Venture network,” said Randy VandenHouten, Senior Vice President of Joint Venture and Retail Lending of Shelter Mortgage Company. “Our organizations are aligned in recognizing that lending is about more than just home financing – it is about building communities and investing in individuals and families. We are thrilled to add a partner with such an innovative approach to real estate and passion for the work that they do.”

“Shelter Mortgage and NewRez offer everything we are looking for in a mortgage lending partner – breadth of experience, a wide product offering and market strength. In conjunction with Shelter Mortgage and NewRez, we are excited to be able to offer this high level of service to the local communities and customers we serve,” added Bo Menkiti. “We are confident this partnership will help us reach more borrowers, facilitate greater access to homeownership, drive wealth creation for those we serve, and strengthen our ability to fulfill our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate.”

Inspired by The Menkiti Group’s endeavors to invest in their local community, Mission Mortgage will make a donation to a charitable cause for every closed loan. The priority areas of impact will be Housing, Education, Youth and Entrepreneurship, and will be facilitated by The CPMG Foundation, the non-profit organization co-founded by The Menkiti Group.

For more information on the Shelter Mortgage joint venture platform, please contact Randy.VandenHouten@sheltermortgage.com or go to newrez.com.

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About NewRez LLC

NewRez LLC (NewRez) is a leading nationwide mortgage lender and servicer. As a lender, NewRez focuses on offering a breadth of industry-leading products, supported by a loan process that blends both human interaction and the benefits of technology into an unparalleled customer experience. Founded in 2008 and licensed to lend in 49 states, NewRez is headquartered in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania and operates multiple lending channels, including Correspondent Lending, Wholesale, Direct-to-Consumer, Retail, and a network of joint venture partners. The servicing business operates through NewRez’s servicing division, which consists of its performing loan servicing division, NewRez Servicing, and its special servicing division, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing. NewRez also has several affiliates that perform various services in the mortgage and real estate industries. These include Avenue 365 Lender Services, LLC, a title agency, and E Street Appraisal Management LLC, an appraisal management company. NewRez is member of the New Residential Investment Corp. family. More information is available at www.newrez.com.

About Shelter Mortgage Company, L.L.C.
Shelter Mortgage Company, L.L.C. (Shelter) is a leading retail residential mortgage originator predominantly focused on conforming purchase money loans generated through relationships with realtors, builders, and relocation companies. Founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of a community bank, Shelter joined the NewRez family of companies in 2014. The company has loan officers across the country with joint venture and partner relationships in over 30 states. Shelter has built a strong platform via its differentiated, partnership-based origination model, focus on purchase money originations and compliance-oriented culture.

About The Menkiti Group

Founded in 2004, the Menkiti Group is a minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in the District of Columbia. The organization was founded with a mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. They are a proud double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage. Menkiti Group invests in abandoned and underutilized properties and transforms them into exciting and affordable homes and workspaces. Projects range from single-family residential renovations and the development and tenanting of main street commercial properties, to large-scale mixed-use transit-oriented development projects. More information is available at www.menkitigroup.com.