Tag Archives: real estate

The Menkiti Group Celebrates Grand Opening of Luxury Apartment Building in Worcester, MA

Reported on December 10, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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

Chatham Lofts to serve as a sophisticated urban residential apartment community in the heart of Worcester’s historic Theatre District.


WORCESTER, Mass., Dec. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Menkiti Group was joined by City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of Chatham Lofts. This project marks the first delivery of a completed development in downtown Worcester by The Menkiti Group, a D.C.-based Black-owned integrated real estate services company. Chatham Lofts is a collection of 24 new luxury apartments in the heart of the Theatre District that highlight the building’s unique architectural features. Located at 6 Chatham Street, Chatham Lofts plays an enduring role in the continued renaissance of Worcester’s urban core and offers a sophisticated and centrally located home for city-dwellers who desire the conveniences of a walkable downtown Worcester.

“We are proud to deliver Chatham Lofts, the first of many projects proving our commitment to help build a strong, thriving neighborhood in downtown Worcester,” said Mark Rengel, Vice President of Development at The Menkiti Group. “It’s an honor to infuse development into under-utilized architectural gems like 6 Chatham Street to help them reach their full potential. We believe in the future of downtown Worcester and Chatham Lofts signifies an important step in the advancement of our commitment to bring investment and commercial and residential density back to the historic and vibrant Theatre District.”

Chatham Lofts is a new market-rate apartment community featuring 24 luxury apartments comprised of studios, and one-to-two-bedroom units housed in a six-story historic building. Each unit is uniquely designed to highlight the existing architecture in order to deliver a distinctive residential living experience.

Project design team members include local General Contractor, R.P. Masiello, Elton + Hampton Architects, Petersen Engineering (MEP/FP), John J. Murphy, Jr. Electrical Construction & Engineering, Northeastern Engineering (Structural), Graves Engineering (Civil) and MacRostie Historic Advisors who served as the Historic Consultant. Chatham Lofts received approval for listing on the National Register of Historic Places from the National Park Service and qualified for both federal and state historic tax credits.

The project also received state and local support through a Housing Development Tax Increment Exemption (TIE) Agreement with the City of Worcester and Housing Development (HD) Investment Tax Credits through the Massachusetts Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHCD). Chatham Lofts was financed through an equity investment by the MG Capital’s eMpower Worcester Opportunity Zone Fund and debt provided by Webster Five and the PCI Fund.

“Webster Five is proud to have been part of bringing this new downtown project to fruition,” said Webster Five Vice President & Business Lending Officer Monica Thomas-Bonnick. “Chatham Lofts adds to the vitality of downtown Worcester while honoring and preserving an iconic, historic building. That kind of thoughtful development is a win for the city.”

The grand opening of Chatham Lofts marks the completed rehabilitation and historic restoration of three adjacent structures built in 1892, 1915, and 1926. From the time of their original construction, the buildings served for many decades as the headquarters of the Worcester Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Over the years the building was home to other prominent local organizations including the Worcester Foothills Theatre, WICN Public Radio, and the Performing Arts School of Worcester.

“With the opening of Chatham Lofts the city is excited to see this historic building in downtown comeback to life,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “By adding 24 new units of housing in the Theatre district, Chatham Lofts adds density and foot traffic that will benefit the many retail and cultural sites in addition to providing beautiful homes for people. This project is one more example of the revitalization of downtown Worcester.”

6 Chatham Street was originally purchased in 2015 by the late Ifeanyi A. Menkiti, a former poet and philosophy professor at Wellesley College who had a distinct vision for downtown Worcester. His legacy lives on with The Menkiti Group and the enterprise is committed to building upon Worcester’s storied history to create a new thriving downtown which further helps realize their mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate. With this project, The Menkiti Group successfully developed high-quality housing and infused sophistication into the downtown Worcester housing market by bringing back to life a significant cultural and historic asset in the city.

Chatham Lofts signifies an important milestone in The Menkiti Group’s overarching goal to bring new life and vibrancy to the Theatre District in support of the City’s Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan. In addition to Chatham Lofts, The Menkiti Group’s strategically positioned and growing portfolio of properties in Worcester include 401-405 Main Street (formerly Shacks Clothing), 554 Main Street, and 204 Main Street. Earlier this year, Chatham Lofts, and 401-405 Main Street were both awarded the Silver Hammer Award, an annual award given by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to acknowledge construction or rehabilitation projects that provide an extraordinary impact on the physical landscape and assist in revitalizing the community.

“We are very excited to see progress on redevelopment in the Theatre District led by The Menkiti Group with projects like Chatham Lofts,” said Bill Aldrich, Founder and Co-Owner/ Chef of Theatre Café and Center Stage Bistro. “We look forward to our Center Stage Bistro opening in their flagship property at 554 Main Street this upcoming spring.”

Bo Menkiti, Mark Rengel, and members of The Menkiti Group team were joined at Thursday’s ceremony by City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., Mayor Joseph Petty, District 2 Councilor Candy F. Mero-Carlson, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the project.

“At The Menkiti Group we have remained diligent over the last 17 years in pursuing our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate, and we are proud to be delivering this unique residential project that continues the momentum of economic development in the City of Worcester,” said Menkiti. “When I first visited Worcester with my father, it was amazing to see the grit, determination, energy, and potential represented in the restaurants, small businesses, and creative community that chose to establish a home downtown. Witnessing first-hand the commitment of the city’s residents and small businesses and the exceptionally strong municipal leadership, it was clear that everyone is committed to the potential that is in Worcester and it is exciting to be part helping to realize the community’s vision for downtown by delivering an impactful project like Chatham Lofts.”

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP

Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The 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. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $250MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

SOURCE The Menkiti Group

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 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Expands Commercial Real Estate Team with New VP to Further its Momentum in Worcester

Reported on December 1, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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


Left to Right: Mark Rengel, Vice President of Development and Michael McElaney, Vice President of Commercial Real Estate

WORCESTER, Mass., Dec. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — With a portfolio that is rapidly expanding across Massachusetts and the Greater Washington Area, The Menkiti Group, an integrated real estate services firm based in Washington, DC with additional offices in Worcester, MA, has appointed.

Mike McElaney as their new Vice President of Commercial Real Estate. McElaney joins The Menkiti Group at a pivotal moment for the firm as they have crossed the threshold of developing over two million square feet of catalytic projects with a majority of that space dedicated to commercial use with exponential growth in Worcester, MA and Washington, DC.

Based in New England and with ties to Worcester as an alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross, McElaney will lead The Menkiti Group’s vision and strategy for the New England region while overseeing commercial leasing on a national basis. In this role, McElaney will play a key part in directing the firm’s portfolio strategy through sourcing, negotiating, and executing commercial transactions across the enterprise.

“The Menkiti Group has an impressive reputation in both the New England and Greater Washington, DC markets and has built an impressive portfolio of real estate. I’m thrilled to join a team of motivated and passionate real estate thought leaders with a unique mission driven approach to real estate investment and development” said Mike McElaney, Vice President of Commercial Real Estate at The Menkiti Group. “As an alumnus of the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, it’s great to be back in the area!” 

As a way of extending The Menkiti Group’s mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate, the addition of McElaney provides an opportunity for the firm to expand its reach within the communities they serve. Initial areas of focus for McElaney will include Main Street in Worcester: 554 Main, and 401-405 Main Street (the former Shacks Building), two buildings that the firm is renovating to bring back the historic integrity of downtown Worcester and other catalytic projects in Washington, DC for the firm including MLK Gateway, a two-phase project located in the heart of historic Anacostia.

McElaney brings over 15 years of experience as a commercial real estate broker and has negotiated and executed over five million square feet of commercial leasing and sales transactions. Prior to joining The Menkiti Group, he was responsible for sourcing and executing new business opportunities throughout New England as Senior Vice President for Avison Young. Before his time at Avision Young, McElaney spent over a decade at Colliers International.

“There is significant momentum in the Worcester marketplace, and we are excited to have Mike leading our commercial leasing efforts” said Mark Rengel, Vice President of Development at The Menkiti Group. “He has quickly become an integral part of The Menkiti Group team, and I look forward to seeing our continued growth in Worcester and beyond with Mike at the helm.”

Over the last 17 years, The Menkiti Group has established a strong track record of success and developed over two million square feet of catalytic projects in Washington, DC and Worcester, MA. By expanding commercial leasing efforts, the enterprise is formalizing its growth and expansion strategy.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining The Menkiti Group,” said McElaney. “I look forward to adding value to the existing portfolio while finding opportunities to enter new markets.”

About The Menkiti Group:

Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The Menkiti Group invests in abandoned and underutilized properties and transforms them into exciting and affordable homes and workspaces. Projects range from residential renovations and the development and tenanting of main street commercial properties to large-scale, mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $250MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes.

SOURCE The Menkiti Group

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Celebrates Groundbreaking on Phase II of MLK Gateway Project in Historic Anacostia

Reported on November 23, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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

Construction on the second phase of MLK Gateway is underway, paving the way for a completed gateway to Historic Anacostia that drives neighborhood impact by early 2023.


Groundbreaking on Phase II of the MLK Gateway project in Historic Anacostia hosted on Monday, November 15, 2021.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) PR Newswire– The Menkiti Group was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and city officials for a WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Menkiti Group was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and city officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of the second phase of MLK Gateway, the new epicenter of commerce, culture, and technology with a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail in Historic Anacostia. The development of this project is being led by The Menkiti Group and co-developed by SHIFT Capital, and Enlightened Inc. Located at the corner of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE directly across the street from the completed first phase of the project, Phase II will be home to a newly built five-story office and retail building with two levels of underground parking that totals over 104,000 SF.

 of SHIFT Capital. “Together with The Menkiti Group’s team and our partners, we have created a value-aligned capital stack that drives equity throughout the development process and unites us on purpose to deliver for the Anacostia community.”

The second phase of MLK Gateway has secured over $60 million in financing, proving that there is great power in public and private collaboration to make strategic investments in existing communities. Financing for the second phase of the project includes a combination of New Market Tax Credits, Opportunity Zone equity, and a Neighborhood Prosperity Grant provided by DMPED. Financing partners for the second phase include EagleBank, LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund, Atlantic Union Bank, Chase, NCIF, Harbor Bank, Industrial Bank, The Community Builders, Georgetown Impact Fund, Forza Fund, Chestnut Funds, and SHIFT Capital.

“Investing in projects like MLK Gateway allows EagleBank to fulfill our mission to serve the community, so that together we can serve the area for many years to come,” said Ryan Riel, EVP, and Chief Real Estate Lending Officer at EagleBank. “The Menkiti Group has been a top-notch partner throughout this process and we’re excited to see this project come to life in the long under-served Anacostia neighborhood.”

Through engaging with the community and local business owners east of the river over the past six years, The Menkiti Group has been able to bring to life the local residents’ vision for the neighborhood and the second phase of MLK Gateway is an expansion of that momentum in historic Anacostia. The design of the building by STUDIOS Architecture embraces and incorporates the neighborhoods historic character and includes a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail and a new home for powerful and transformative DC-based businesses.

“Chestnut Funds is proud to partner with both SHIFT Capital and The Menkiti Group. Our team values working with local partners who are embedded in communities and leading impactful projects such as MLK II,” says Steen Watson, CEO of Chestnut Funds. “Phase II of the MLK Gateway project will activate an important community corridor, better connect the historic Anacostia neighborhood to downtown DC, and provide access to additional retail goods and services as well as job opportunities.”  

The development of both phases of MLK Gateway is being led by local D.C.-based Black-owned integrated real estate services company, The Menkiti Group. MLK Gateway is a powerful example of a successful collaboration between the D.C. Government, private sector, and local residents.

“LISC is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to work with the Menkiti Group as an investor in MLK Gateway II,” said George Ashton, Managing Director, LISC Strategic Investments. “The Black Economic Development Fund’s $8 million loan further facilitates commercial development and job growth to the area, empowering local opportunities at the heart of the historic Anacostia neighborhood.”

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Bo Menkiti and The Menkiti Group were joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, Enlightened Inc. President and CEO Antwanye Ford, CEO of SHIFT Capital, Brian Murray, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the projects.

“At The Menkiti Group we have remained diligent over the last 17 years to pursue our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate and MLK Gateway is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities. We are proud to celebrate the power and potential of Anacostia and continue our momentum of delivering a transformative project for this great community,” said Menkiti.

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP

Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The Menkiti Group invests in abandoned and underutilized properties and transforms them into exciting and affordable homes and workspaces. Projects range from residential renovations and the development and tenanting of main street commercial properties to large-scale, mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $250MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

 of SHIFT Capital. “Together with The Menkiti Group’s team and our partners, we have created a value-aligned capital stack that drives equity throughout the development process and unites us on purpose to deliver for the Anacostia community.”

The second phase of MLK Gateway has secured over $60 million in financing, proving that there is great power in public and private collaboration to make strategic investments in existing communities. Financing for the second phase of the project includes a combination of New Market Tax Credits, Opportunity Zone equity, and a Neighborhood Prosperity Grant provided by DMPED. Financing partners for the second phase include EagleBank, LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund, Atlantic Union Bank, Chase, NCIF, Harbor Bank, Industrial Bank, The Community Builders, Georgetown Impact Fund, Forza Fund, Chestnut Funds, and SHIFT Capital.

“Investing in projects like MLK Gateway allows EagleBank to fulfill our mission to serve the community, so that together we can serve the area for many years to come,” said Ryan Riel, EVP, and Chief Real Estate Lending Officer at EagleBank. “The Menkiti Group has been a top-notch partner throughout this process and we’re excited to see this project come to life in the long under-served Anacostia neighborhood.”

Through engaging with the community and local business owners east of the river over the past six years, The Menkiti Group has been able to bring to life the local residents’ vision for the neighborhood and the second phase of MLK Gateway is an expansion of that momentum in historic Anacostia. The design of the building by STUDIOS Architecture embraces and incorporates the neighborhoods historic character and includes a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail and a new home for powerful and transformative DC-based businesses.

“Chestnut Funds is proud to partner with both SHIFT Capital and The Menkiti Group. Our team values working with local partners who are embedded in communities and leading impactful projects such as MLK II,” says Steen Watson, CEO of Chestnut Funds. “Phase II of the MLK Gateway project will activate an important community corridor, better connect the historic Anacostia neighborhood to downtown DC, and provide access to additional retail goods and services as well as job opportunities.”  

The development of both phases of MLK Gateway is being led by local D.C.-based Black-owned integrated real estate services company, The Menkiti Group. MLK Gateway is a powerful example of a successful collaboration between the D.C. Government, private sector, and local residents.

“LISC is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to work with the Menkiti Group as an investor in MLK Gateway II,” said George Ashton, Managing Director, LISC Strategic Investments. “The Black Economic Development Fund’s $8 million loan further facilitates commercial development and job growth to the area, empowering local opportunities at the heart of the historic Anacostia neighborhood.”

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Bo Menkiti and The Menkiti Group were joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, Enlightened Inc. President and CEO Antwanye Ford, CEO of SHIFT Capital, Brian Murray, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the projects.

“At The Menkiti Group we have remained diligent over the last 17 years to pursue our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate and MLK Gateway is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities. We are proud to celebrate the power and potential of Anacostia and continue our momentum of delivering a transformative project for this great community,” said Menkiti.

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP

Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The Menkiti Group invests in abandoned and underutilized properties and transforms them into exciting and affordable homes and workspaces. Projects range from residential renovations and the development and tenanting of main street commercial properties to large-scale, mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $250MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

###

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Celebrates Ribbon Cutting on Phase I of MLK Gateway Project in Historic Anacostia

Reported on November 18, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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

Phase I of MLK Gateway reaches completion, providing a backdrop for a new epicenter of commerce, culture, and technology in Ward 8.


Ribbon cutting on Phase I of the MLK Gateway project in Historic Anacostia hosted on Monday, November 15, 2021.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) PR Newswire– The Menkiti Group was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and city officials for a ribbon cutting earlier this week on November 15 to celebrate the completion of Phase One of the historic MLK Gateway project in Anacostia. The first phase of the project includes a mix of uses and features the restoration of 14,000 square feet of ground floor retail as well as 20,000 square feet of newly built office space.

“We are proud to deliver phase one of this catalytic project east of the river,” said Bo Menkiti, Founder and CEO, The Menkiti Group. “We have been actively engaged with the historic Anacostia community, working together with the Bowser Administration, DMPED, and local leaders, residents and business owners to execute on a collaborative vision for equitable and sustainable economic development in Ward 8 and believe that MLK Gateway demonstrates how the power of collaboration between the public and private sectors can truly drive neighborhood impact.”

The project is anchored and co-developed by Enlightened Inc., an award-winning Black-owned information technology and cybersecurity firm that has relocated its nearly 150 District-based employees to this new headquarters in historic Anacostia. By moving to MLK Gateway, Enlightened became the largest private technology employer to move east of the Anacostia River in four decades, further accelerating job growth in Historic Anacostia. Enlightened plans to launch a technology incubator to groom growing tech firms to do business with the federal government and will run a cybersecurity training program to enable local residents to gain marketable information technology skills.

“Enlightened is proud to be a part of this community and to be an agent of positive economic development,” said Antwanye Ford, President and CEO, Enlightened Inc. “Bringing training programs and jobs is what we love to do, and we are looking forward to leading the charge in developing local entrepreneurs, launching businesses, and creating a national tech hub at the entrance to Anacostia.”

Additional tenants at phase one include a new restaurant run by The Gaston Group, a Ward 8-based business and Capital One Café, a full-service coffee and tea bar with collaborative workspaces and meeting rooms for public use. The café, which occupies approximately 3,700 square feet of retail space, brings locally sourced food and beverages, complimentary Wi-Fi, private rooms for guests to enjoy, and financial education opportunities for the community.  

“We are continuing the transformation of this historic neighborhood by revitalizing the gateway of the Anacostia business area,” said Mayor Bowser. “My Administration never gave up on this project because we know it has helped us bring jobs, housing, and new amenities to Ward 8.”

The first phase of MLK Gateway was financed using a combination of $4.25 million in New Market Tax Credits and $3.3 million in Opportunity Zone funding, grant funding, and senior debt. The project was one of the first in the country to deploy a combination of both Opportunity Zone funding and New Market Tax Credits. Additionally, the project also received a $700,000 grant from DMPED’s Neighborhood Prosperity Fund. Financing partners for the first phase of MLK Gateway include PNC Bank, City First Bank, LISC, Consortium America, and Uplands Real Estate Partners.

“The completion of MLK Gateway Phase I brings economic opportunities and jobs to the historic Anacostia community,” said George Ashton, Managing Director, LISC Strategic Investments.  “LISC is proud to partner with mission driven developers like The Menkiti Group that build impactful community-based projects that are directly responsive to the community’s needs. We are excited to celebrate this milestone and look forward to continuing to support our Ward 8 residents.”

“As fellow Washingtonians, we are thrilled to partner with The Menkiti Group to deliver vibrant retail and high-quality jobs to historic Anacostia,” said Joshua Hoffman, Principal, Uplands Real Estate Partners. “MLK Gateway represents the best of what a public-private partnership can achieve.”

Through engaging with the community and local business owners, The Menkiti Group has been able to bring to life the local residents’ vision for the neighborhood. The design of the building by architects Hickok Cole embraces and incorporates the site’s existing historic facades, a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail, and provides a gateway to commerce, culture, and technology at the entrance to Anacostia.

“It’s a privilege to be entrusted by The Menkiti Group, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Anacostia community to design Phase I of MLK Gateway. We’ve been deeply integrated within the community, working with local review boards from the start, and committed to delivering a design that bridges the gap between Anacostia’s history and its bright path forward,” said Bertin Radifera, Senior Associate and Senior Project Manager at Hickok Cole. “We are incredibly proud to play a role in launching Anacostia’s next chapter and look forward to engaging with this vibrant community on many more opportunities down the road.”

Located at the corner of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, MLK Gateway is a two-phased community-oriented project that drives neighborhood impact in the heart of historic Anacostia. The development of both phases of the project is being led by local D.C.-based Black-owned integrated real estate services company, The Menkiti Group. MLK Gateway is a powerful example of a successful collaboration between the D.C. Government, private sector, and local residents.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Bo Menkiti and The Menkiti Group were joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, Enlightened Inc. President and CEO Antwanye Ford, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at Capital One, Andy Navarette, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the projects.

“At The Menkiti Group we have remained diligent over the last 17 years to pursue our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate and this project is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities. We are proud to celebrate this significant milestone in bringing to life the community’s vision for the historic MLK Gateway alongside partners who share a similar commitment to driving neighborhood impact for Anacostia. We look forward to continuing to work with the community to show the power and strength of D.C. residents east of the river,” said Menkiti.

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP

Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The Menkiti Group invests in abandoned and underutilized properties and transforms them into exciting and affordable homes and workspaces. Projects range from residential renovations and the development and tenanting of main street commercial properties to large-scale, mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $250MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

###

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Celebrates Major Milestones on Historic MLK Gateway Project in Anacostia

Reported on November 15, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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

MLK Gateway to serve as the new epicenter of commerce, culture, and technology with a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail.


MLK Gateway in Historic Anacostia. Pictured left is Phase I of the project and pictured right is Phase II of the project. Located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and Good Hope Road.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Menkiti Group was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and city officials Monday to celebrate two major milestones for MLK Gateway: the ribbon cutting of its completion of the first phase and the groundbreaking of its second phase. The development of both phases of the project is being led by a local D.C.-based Black-owned integrated real estate services company, The Menkiti Group. MLK Gateway is a powerful example of a successful collaboration between the D.C. Government, private sector, and local residents. Located at the corner of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, MLK Gateway is a community-oriented project that drives neighborhood impact in the heart of historic Anacostia.

“We are proud to deliver phase one and break ground on the second phase of this catalytic project east of the river,” said Bo Menkiti, Founder and CEO, The Menkiti Group. “We believe MLK Gateway is an innovative example of community-led participative development and demonstrates how the power of collaboration between the public and private sectors can truly drive neighborhood impact.”

The first phase of MLK Gateway includes a mix of uses and features the restoration of 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail as well as 20,000 square feet of newly built office space. The project is anchored by Enlightened Inc., an award-winning Black-owned information technology and cybersecurity firm that has relocated its nearly 150 District-based employees to this new headquarters in historic Anacostia. Additional tenants at phase one include Capital One Café, a full-service coffee and tea bar with collaborative workspaces and meeting rooms for public use, and a new restaurant run by The Gaston Group, a Ward 8-based business. The phase one building’s design embraces and incorporates the site’s existing historic facades, a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail, and provides a backdrop for a new epicenter of commerce, culture, and technology in Anacostia.

“Enlightened is proud to be a part of this community and to be an agent of positive economic development,” said Antwanye Ford, President and CEO, Enlightened Inc. “Bringing training programs and jobs is what we love to do, and we are looking forward to leading the charge in developing local entrepreneurs, launching businesses, and creating a national tech hub at the entrance to Anacostia.”

The second phase of MLK Gateway will include the construction of a new building at 1909 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE with street-level retail and multistory office space above. The project is anchored by Washington, D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) which will be retaining its headquarters in the historic Anacostia neighborhood and is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to locate public agencies on the east side of the Anacostia River. Additionally, phase two will be home to a new Keller Williams Capital Properties (KWCP) office bringing a national real estate chain east of the river. At MLK Gateway, KWCP will found the East of the River Real Estate Academy, a training center for aspiring real estate entrepreneurs designed to open doors to new opportunities for local residents.

“At MLK Gateway, we’re collaborating with partners and leaders who know DC and who know Ward 8. And, together, we’re delivering results: jobs, opportunity, a new restaurant, and more,” said Mayor Bowser. “This is the second Neighborhood Prosperity Fund project that we’re celebrating in the past three days – on Saturday we were in Bellevue to open the new Good Food Market. We made a commitment to the community, and now we’re delivering. Today, we’re back in Ward 8, welcoming a Black-owned technology firm and celebrating all the opportunity that this site represents.”

Through numerous meetings and engagement with community groups, residents, and local businesses, The Menkiti Group has been able to bring to life the city and local residents’ vision for the neighborhood. The Menkiti Group is honored to execute on that vision and further realize its mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate and they remain dedicated to driving neighborhood impact as they continue on into the second phase of this project.

“MLK Gateway demonstrates what we can deliver when the public and private sectors work together to make big, strategic investments in existing communities,” said John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “We triple downed on this project using New Tax Credits, Opportunity Zone, and Neighborhood Prosperity funds to make sure the residents of Ward 8 were supported.”

Both phases of MLK Gateway are models for public and private collaboration. The partners for phase one include The Menkiti Group, Enlightened Inc., the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), PNC Bank, RMS Investment Group, and City First Bank of DC. The partners for phase two include The Menkiti Group, Enlightened Inc., SHIFT Capital, DMPED, DHCD, EagleBank, LISC Black Economic Development Fund, Chestnut Funds, Chase Bank, Harbor Bank, NCIF, and Industrial Bank.

“It’s an exciting experience to leverage District assets in a purposeful manner with the clear intention of strengthening the Ward 8 economy,” said Department of General Services (DGS) Director Keith A. Anderson.  “That’s precisely what we achieved when we negotiated a new headquarters lease for the Department of Housing and Community Development; this space will ensure their staff can continue providing and creating innovative programming services for the District.”

Bo Menkiti and The Menkiti Group were joined at Monday’s ceremony by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, Enlightened Inc. President and CEO Antwanye Ford, SHIFT Capital CEO, Brian Murray, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the projects.

“At The Menkiti Group we have remained diligent over the last 17 years to pursue our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate and this project is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities. We are proud to celebrate this significant milestone in bringing to life the community’s vision for the historic MLK Gateway alongside partners who share a similar commitment to driving neighborhood impact for Anacostia. We look forward to continuing to work with the community to show the power and strength of D.C. residents east of the river,” said Menkiti.

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP
Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The 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. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $225MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Expands Internal Capital and Investments Team

Reported on September 29, 2021 By Victoria Zelefsky, Director of Brand Communications of The Menkiti Group

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


As part of their strategy to scale their capital and investment infrastructure, The Menkiti Group, a real estate firm based in Washington, DC with additional offices in Worcester, MA, has expanded their internal capital and investments team. Melissa Lee joins the enterprise as the Senior Vice President of Capital and Investments along with John Daniels who will serve as Director of Investments. The Menkiti Group is expanding its role as an intermediary by aligning new sources of capital with emerging neighborhoods and real estate developers. This division aims to scale their Neighborhood Investment Model thesis by deepening the process for identifying and creating additional access points to capital for a diverse set of talented real estate entrepreneurs.

As an extension of The Menkiti Group’s mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate, the expansion of the capital and investments team provides an opportunity for the enterprise to deploy capital in new markets while maintaining its commitment to local communities. The firm’s experience working in emerging neighborhoods, double bottom line approach, and current pipeline of projects leaves them poised for rapid growth.

“Expanding our capital and investments team is an initiative driven by our commitment to advancing economic equity and our desire to bridge the gap between societal impact with traditional real estate. Melissa Lee has had an exemplary track record in delivering strategies and analytical solutions to both community and government organizations,” said Bo Menkiti, CEO and Founder of The Menkiti Group. “As an enterprise we are growing rapidly and with ample opportunities in the pipeline we knew it was time to expand the capital part of our platform.”

Ms. Lee, who will lead the MG Capital and Investments division, joins the enterprise with over two decades of finance experience with expertise in investment management and treasury management across multiple industries. In previous roles Ms. Lee oversaw a $2+ billion real estate portfolio at the Maryland State Retirement & Pension System with the responsibility for advancing the asset class strategy through the deployment of capital into domestic and global private real estate funds. Ms. Lee also served as the Director of Treasury Operations at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), where she executed the organization’s cash, debt, and investment strategy. In addition, she served as a Trustee on several of WMATA’s Retirement Plans. Most recently, Ms. Lee served as the Founder and Managing Principal of Lee Squared Consulting Group, LLC where she developed financial strategies for community development organizations.

As the Senior Vice President of Capital and Investments, Ms. Lee will lead all structure and growth of the capital, investment, and fund management activities. Her institutional investment and treasury background will serve as a means to cultivate existing investor relationships and build new partnerships that align with forthcoming investment funds. She will be supported by Mr. Daniels, who most recently worked in private equity for Vista Equity Partners. Mr. Daniels will leverage his proptech, real estate development, acquisitions, and management consulting experience to support the deployment of capital as the firm continues to scale.

“This is an exciting time to join The Menkiti Group. We have an amazing opportunity to advance our thought leadership around transforming the lenses through which we approach real estate and neighborhood investment. We are looking forward to the collaborative ways in which we can shift the real estate paradigm to create multi layered investment opportunities that unlock the overlooked potential of places and people,” said Melissa Lee, Senior Vice President of Capital and Investments. “The ability to connect social impact and financial returns only makes what we are charged with more compelling and personally fulfilling.”

Over the last 17 years, The Menkiti Group has established a strong track record of success and developed over two million square feet of catalytic projects in Washington, DC and Worcester, MA. By expanding their capital and investments team, the enterprise is formalizing their successful performance in investing in emerging neighborhoods and talented entrepreneurs. The capital and investments team is focused on working with investment partners to deepen the reach and impact of their real estate investment strategies, with an emphasis on supporting diverse developers in the real estate space.

###

About The Menkiti Group:
Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The 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. Over the past 17 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $225MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes.

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group and the Haynes Celebrate the Silver Hammer Award

Reported on May 21,2021

Worcester, MA – Businesses in Worcester, MA celebrated achievements this past Thursday, May 20th, with the annual Worcester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Ceremony. Among the award recipients was The Menkiti Group, a minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate, for both 6 Chatham Street and 401-405 Main Street in Worcester, MA.

6 Chatham Street, also known as Chatham Lofts, is a collection of 24 brand-new luxury apartments in the heart of the Theater District that highlight the buildings unique architectural features. 401-405 Main Street has served as a home for generations of downtown Worcester businesses over the past 167 years, from well-known photographer E.B. Luce to Shacks Clothing, which occupied the corner of Main and Mechanic Streets for nearly half a century, to Community Legal Aid, an essential community-serving non-profit organization which has called the building home for decades.

“At the time of their construction, both 401-405 Main Street and 6 Chatham Street were some of the grandest buildings in the City of Worcester and we believe that still holds true today,” said Mark Rengel, Vice President of Development at The Menkiti Group.

6 Chatham Street (Chatham Lofts)

The Menkiti Group set out to reconstruct both Worcester landmarks (401-405 Main Street and 6 Chatham Street) by paying respect to the architectural details of the original structure. Their goal is to restore the properties to their former splendor and breathe new life into the halls.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work our team at The Menkiti Group is doing to revitalize important, historic buildings in downtown Worcester. As real estate developers, we have a unique opportunity to give back in a transformative way. Through historic façade renovation of properties like 401-405 Main Street and 6 Chatham Street, we are preserving the beautiful architecture that makes Worcester unique,” said Bo Menkiti, Founder and CEO of The Menkiti Group.

Managing the renovation of 401-405 Main Street was Haynes Group, a commercial construction firm who combines quality construction with a level of personalized service. The team upgraded core building systems, constructed a new exterior storefront, and restored the historic façade. Detailed restoration of brick masonry, stone, wood, and cast-iron façade elements was accomplished by Raymond James Restoration with the guidance of architect Greg O’Connor.

403 Main Street
Bank of America

“We were really excited to be part of the rehabilitation of this building right in downtown Worcester that has such a storied past, including Shack’s Clothes,” said Jim Russo, Director of Business Development at Haynes Group.

“We are grateful for the meticulous restoration completed by local artisans Gregory J. O’Connor Associates Architects, Elton + Hampton Architects, Raymond James Restoration, Haynes Group, and R.P. Masiello who collectively breathed new life into the structures. 401-405 Main Street and 6 Chatham Street are significant pieces of downtown Worcester’s identity and I am proud to work with a team that is committed to preserving these impressive cultural resources for generations to come.” said Rengel from The Menkiti Group.

Both properties received the Silver Hammer Award, a yearly award given by the Chamber to acknowledge construction or rehabilitation projects that provide an extraordinary impact on the physical landscape and assist in revitalizing the community.

“We are honored to have both projects recognized by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and presented with the Silver Hammer Awards,” said Menkiti “and we look forward to continuing our work restoring and revitalizing important buildings which play an enduring role in the continued renaissance of downtown Worcester.”

###

About Haynes Group, Inc.: Haynes Group, Inc. is a family-owned, full service commercial construction company based in Massachusetts and serving Eastern New England.

Founded by brothers Mike and Bryan Haynes in 2001, Haynes Group has earned distinction by providing outstanding customer service while delivering award-winning corporate office, hotel and hospitality, industrial, and retail projects.

About The Menkiti Group: Founded in 2004, The Menkiti Group is a 100% minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional offices in Worcester, Massachusetts. The organization was founded with the mission to transform lives, careers, and communities through real estate. The Menkiti Group is a double bottom line company, measuring success in terms of financial and positive social impact. The company’s approach to urban neighborhood transformation and investment is centered upon residential and commercial development, residential sales, and commercial brokerage.

The 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. Over the past 16 years, The Menkiti Group has invested over $225MM in DC’s emerging neighborhoods, worked on the development of over 2.1MM SF of real estate, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes.


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

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

Here are the competing pitches for a redeveloped Reeves Center

Reported on April 27th, 2021 By Alex Koma, Staff reporter at the The Washington Business Journal

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


Two teams of prominent D.C. developers are locked in a head-to-head competition for the chance to redevelop the Reeves Center, one of the city’s most coveted properties at the heart of the U Street corridor.

District officials heard pitches last week from both teams as part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s effort to restart the redevelopment of Reeves, home to a variety of large D.C. agencies since it opened in 1986 during the administration of Marion Barry. The teams are stocked with a veritable who’s who of developers that have won city projects in the past and are now vying to remake 2000 14th Street NW into a mixed-use destination.

It is unclear how many proposals the District received, but these appear to be the finalists.

One team is led by developers MRP Realty and CSG Urban Partners and the financiers at Capri Investment Group. Their proposal envisions 628 apartments on the site (a third of which would be affordable), alongside some for-sale townhomes, 110,000 square feet of office, 20,000 square feet of retail and a 24,000-square-foot public plaza and performance venue.

The other team is helmed by Dantes Partners, the Menkiti Group and the investment firm EB5 Capital. Other prominent firms such as Horning Brothers, Banneker Ventures, Kadida Development Group and Inle Development will also participate. They’re planning a 150-room hotel, 250 affordable apartments, 46 affordable, for-sale condos, 100,000 square feet of office, up to 15,000 square feet of retail and a new community plaza.

Both pitches include nods to U Street’s history as a hub of Black art and culture, and both feature Black development executives, given D.C.’s new emphasis on ensuring diverse representation in teams that win city development deals. And both set aside room for a new NAACP headquarters, after the organization committed to the project last June, as well as at least a few government agencies that would remain on the site.https://f17a2c44f3561bfe625327a167da144d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

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There’s no firm timeline yet on when the District will pick a winner — a call for proposals issued in late December identifies summer 2022 as a potential closing date — but whichever group succeeds will have the chance to put its stamp on one of the visible properties in the entire city.

A link to the past

The CSG-MRP vision for the Reeves Center is heavy on new residential, and that’s by design.

Simone Goring Devaney, principal and co-founder of CSG, said her team heard Bowser “loud and clear” in her calls for new housing construction. She also wanted to deliver a mixed-income community, and included 188 units of affordable units in her pitch. About 141 will be affordable for people making 50% of the median family income, while 47 will be set at 30% of MFI.

“Many of these will be larger, family-sized units, which we knew was important, because a lot of new units in the community are smaller,” Goring Devaney said.

The team also plans to include at least five affordable for-sale units among some new townhomes that will front V Street, and to partner with Habitat for Humanity and the Douglass Community Land Trust to ensure their long-term affordability. CSG previously partnered with those firms on a similar proposal on D.C.-owned property near Truxton Circle.

As for the arts, the team has struck a preliminary deal to bring a studio from New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the property, as well as a new recording studio for the Washington Jazz Arts Institute. Goring Devaney envisions both anchoring a new “Frederick Douglass Plaza and Marion Barry, Jr. Amphitheatre,” which would be adorned with images of both men.

“We see the Reeves Center as the western link with the Howard Theatre tying up all the pearls of art and history that have happened along U Street,” said Michael Marshall, head of Michael Marshall Design, which is leading the project’s architecture work alongside PGN Architects.

Goring Devaney also hopes to offer some of the retail space at below-market rates to ensure that long-tenured businesses aren’t pushed out of the largely gentrified neighborhood. She believes that’s a key way to honor the area’s history as a home for Black businesses. Smoot Construction, the Black-owned D.C contractor that built Reeves decades ago, is also part of the team.

MRP and CSG have both won a variety of D.C. development deals in the past, including the redevelopment of the D.C. Housing Authority’s headquarters and the Northwest One project near NoMa.

Beyond ‘checking a box’

The other team is, similarly, no stranger to doing business with the District.

Menkiti is building a new headquarters for the Department of Housing and Community Development, while Dantes Partners has worked on a variety of affordable projects in tandem with the city — its managing principal Buwa Binitie also doubles as the chair of the D.C. Housing Finance Agency’s governing board. The group also includes Lopez & Associates, a consulting firm helmed by close Bowser ally Joshua Lopez.https://f17a2c44f3561bfe625327a167da144d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

And the pitch from the team’s leaders centers primarily on these long-standing area ties. Even the project’s primary financiers at EB5 are based in Bethesda, and local firms will provide the majority of its equity.

Binitie sees this as a different approach than a typical development deal, where “you go to a pension fund or some investment group and they end up owning 90% of transaction.” By centering on local firms, this a chance to ensure that people of color are more than just perfunctory participants to satisfy diversity requirements, he said.

“If you look at the public disposition of sites, Black and brown people have often just served in the role of checking a box,” Binitie said. “In this instance, we have these individuals leading and financing each individual component.”

The project will include its own tributes to the area’s past, like a new Marion Barry Way, but the developers hope to set themselves apart by building new affordable homes for people of color who are often priced out of the neighborhood. Binitie said the new apartment building will be financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity, ensuring prices are affordable to people between 30% and 80% of MFI. He estimates the average rent at about $1,400 a month.https://f17a2c44f3561bfe625327a167da144d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Similarly, he envisions condos with unthinkably low asking prices close to $60,000 by utilizing other affordable housing funding sources. The retail, too, will offer affordable rents — the plans call for an 8,000-square-foot food hall, with space for about 13 local restaurants. D.C. Central Kitchen is on board to open a 1,200-square-foot café alongside it, offering training programs for people struggling to find work, similar to the nonprofit’s existing efforts in Southeast D.C.

Bo Menkiti, founder and CEO of the Menkiti Group, sees it as a “continuum of opportunity,” with each piece of the project more reasonably priced. Even the flag they’ve secured for the hotel, a Moxy by Marriott, would be a more affordable option.

“We want to create pathways to economic sustainability,” Menkiti said. “And we hope this project reflects the diversity of the District and doesn’t just say, ‘U Street is for those who can pay to be here.’”

The team’s pitch has its own arts component too — Adams Morgan’s Songbyrd Record House and Music Café hopes to open a 2,000-square-foot performance space in the hotel. And The MusicianShip, the group that puts on the annual D.C. Funk Parade, has agreed to help program its “Black Broadway Plaza.”

This team might have an advantage for more practical purposes. Horning Brothers also controls the apartment building just behind Reeves, fronting V Street, as well as the air rights covering some of the Reeves property. By including them in the deal, Menkiti hopes that will allow his team to utilize more of the site with fewer legal hurdles.

“They could’ve just sat back and played all sides here,” Menkiti said. “But they decided they wanted to be part of our team, and see this not just locally-led but locally owned.”

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

Black developers call for reckoning in real estate

Bo Menkiti & Buwa Binitie

In aftermath of protests, new doors are opening. But they say more is needed.

Reported on April 1st, 2021 By Amanda Abrams of The Washington Post

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


Despite more than 15 years as a residential real estate developer, Buwa Binitie says he has grown accustomed to regularly fielding queries about his expertise.

“Those questions come when a lender might be underwriting you, or maybe there are brokers who are marketing the deal and don’t know you. Questions like ‘Where’s your capital coming from, who’s behind you, who owns your company?’ ” says Binitie, who is Black and is the managing principal of Dantes Partners, a real estate development firm in D.C. “Me and my peers call them ‘unnecessary questions.’ We feel our White peers don’t get them at all.”

Binitie — whose company built the Hodge in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood and Delta Towers in the H Street corridor, both affordable senior housing developments — is far from alone in his experiences. In the Washington area and around the country, the development community is almost exclusively White. In an industry characterized by huge sums of money, Black developers say they face major hurdles in accessing capital, connecting with influential networks and expanding their businesses.

But in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis last May and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, developers of color say the industry seems to be experiencing a shift: Some lenders, investors, municipalities, development partners and others in the commercial real estate world are recognizing how homogenous the field has been and are taking steps to address it.

“I’m feeling a little bit of a difference,” says Binitie. He is echoed by other Black developers, who say they have been fielding some new business opportunities and offers of collaboration from lenders and White-led development companies over the past nine months. “[Lenders and investors are] making a significant effort to produce capital specifically for Black and Brown real estate developers,” Binitie says.

But whether this is a permanent change remains to be seen, he cautions. “Is this going to be continuous? Or is it a one-time thing so they can say, ‘We provided the capital, and are now going back to our normal course of business?’ ”

Access to capital

Over the past decade, D.C. neighborhoods have experienced astounding growth. Some, like the Wharf, 14th Street and CityCenter, have been dramatically transformed. Developers have played a key role in that growth, determining what the new buildings would look like, how upscale the condos and apartments would be, and whether existing residents and businesses would be accommodated.

But the lack of diversity among developers has often translated into a lack of diversity in the product, observers say, with real estate projects overwhelmingly targeted to middle- and upper-income groups.

Statistics for developers are difficult to come by, but Urban Land Institute (ULI), a national real estate and land use industry association, says 5 percent of its members identify as Black or African American.

The Washington Post spoke with more than 15 Black people working in real estate development about their experiences. The developers, many of whom have been in the industry for years and hold degrees from Ivy League universities, agreed that their opportunities have been limited by racism, institutional bias and a lack of connection to powerful networks.

“It’s a fraternity environment in this niche filled with so much wealth,” says Anthea Martin, a senior vice president at Bellwether Enterprise, a mission-driven mortgage bank that aims to increase the supply of affordable housing. “This limits the money that minorities can tap into.”

“It’s multiples more difficult to get loans,” says Diarra McKinney, a D.C. native who runs Rosewood Strategies, a company that has constructed multifamily buildings in the D.C. neighborhoods of Takoma and Ivy City. Before starting his business, McKinney says he worked for White-led companies. “Banks would say, ‘Oh, we love you guys!’ and they’ll have a term sheet in a day. For [me and other Black developers], we might have significantly more experience than many of those companies, but we still get all kinds of questions.”

As McKinney points out, the loans do usually come through. “It’s not the 1950s,” he says. “I can go through the process and get a loan offer. But the terms are not the same; the interest rate will be much higher. And you don’t know why that is. It’s all behind the scenes.”

Developers also need equity, in the form of investments from friends, family or private firms, to close their deals. And that can be even harder for Black developers to procure than bank credit. The asset management industry, which includes institutional investors and private equity groups, is overwhelmingly White. And family and friends, even well-off ones, simply may not have the extra funds to invest in a real estate project.

“I think more than anything, it’s a function of the wealth disparities in this country,” says Curtis Doucette, a managing partner of Iris Development, which has renovated several apartment complexes in and near New Orleans, and is building a $19 million mixed-use, multifamily development there. “We have far less net worth in the Black community. We’re less likely to have it ourselves, our families are less likely to have it, our networks are less likely to have it.”

Doucette, who has been in the real estate business for 18 years, has partnered with White developers and says the contrast was like night and day. “It was a different socioeconomic environment. It was amazing to me to see how willing people were to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a project.”

There is one area where Black developers are better represented: affordable housing. Most affordable housing is built with some amount of government subsidy; although it can be difficult and time-consuming to procure, it lowers the barrier to entry by reducing a developer’s dependence on private financing.

LEFT: Bo Menkiti, left, of Menkiti Group, and Buwa Binitie, of Dantes Partners, in front of Capitol Vista in Mount Vernon Triangle.
(Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
RIGHT: The developers, along with two other Black-led companies, built Capitol Vista, an affordable-housing development.
(Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

“The African American developers that I know, they’re in that niche,” says Martin at Bellwether Enterprise. “Most multifamily developers don’t want to play in that space where the deals are perceived as more of a hassle to finance and manage” and where the returns tend to be significantly lower.

But others say Black developers are not in the sector just out of necessity. “Minority developers are doing affordable housing because they grew up in those communities. They see that the need is there,” says Adeola Adejobi, a New York lawyer who runs the Diversity in Commercial Real Estate Conference. “When you’re looking at a deal from that lens, you’re bringing a different perspective.”

It is a perspective that is arguably a little more people-centered. Many African American developers find ways to benefit Black communities with their projects, for example. Cecily King, who runs Kipling Development in Detroit, is developing a mixed-income condo building in an upscale community; it will allow low-income residents to own property in an area with good schools and rising home values. And that, King says, could be life-changing for a family.

“It’s still a business at the end of the day,” she says. “But the perspective you bring to the table [as a Black person] opens your eyes to what the opportunities can be.”

Bree Jones, who runs Parity Homes in Baltimore, says she has experienced the microaggressions familiar to African Americans in the development field and has struggled to find financing for her project. She has a plan to redevelop 96 abandoned rowhouses in west Baltimore and sell them at affordable rates to local residents. (Open Society Institute Baltimore)

New initiatives on the horizon

Bree Jones is another developer who is hoping to do good while doing well. Her company, Parity Homes, has a plan to redevelop 96 abandoned rowhouses in west Baltimore and sell them at affordable rates to local residents. “Development without displacement,” she says.

Jones says she has experienced the microaggressions familiar to African Americans in the field and has struggled to find financing for her project. But a year ago, after months of networking and conference-hopping, she met an investor whose company had a social impact wing. The investor, she says, immediately understood the value of her plan.

“They wanted it to work — they believed in me inherently,” Jones says. The subsequent funding, $1.5 million in equity, is one of the last pieces she needed to begin the project.

Black real estate developers have long collaborated to build networks and pull each other up, and that is continuing. But today, a growing number of initiatives are helping to bring in new capital and new connections — and much of that seems to be the result of the country’s intensified focus on racial equity since last summer.

For example, Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit lender, has recently launched a $3.5 billion program to support developers of color who are creating and preserving affordable homes. Capital Impact, another nonprofit financial institution, started a program in D.C. and Detroit to give a select cohort of minority developers access to mentors, training and, in some cases, funding. And a few big banks have recently earmarked funds for minority developers.

D.C.’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development established an initiative that gives minority-run companies priority access to city-led redevelopment projects. “We’ve had a conversation since the beginning of 2019 about how we can make housing in the city more equitable,” says John Falcicchio, who leads the department. “This is a giant leap forward.”

New York City recently announced a similar initiative.

But to really address the discrepancy, developers say a multifaceted approach is needed — one that nurtures the talent pipeline at all levels. After all, at this point, “There are not that many [Black-led] development firms that have the capacity to meaningfully participate,” says Bo Menkiti, founder and CEO of the Menkiti Group in D.C. Together with Dantes Partners and two other Black-led companies, Menkiti’s firm also built Capitol Vista, an affordable-housing development in Mount Vernon Triangle.

Helping smaller minority companies grow so they can eventually take on major projects themselves might require an uptick in partnerships with established firms, or the creation of mentorship initiatives.

Some new programs are focusing on young people. “A lot of Black kids don’t know what development is,” says Mark Marshall, director of real estate at the Denver-based Urban Land Conservancy. Marshall partners with Urban Land Institute’s Colorado group to mentor and train young adults who might be interested in the field, a program that ULI is replicating in chapters around the country.

ULI’s leaders say they are taking the industry’s racial discrepancies seriously. “Since the murder of George Floyd, [racial equity] has become a top priority for everyone at ULI,” says Gwyneth Jones Cote, the president of ULI Americas.

This year, the organization’s annual Emerging Trends survey showed that 70 percent of members who responded believe the real estate industry can help address systemic racism.

That’s why this shift is so significant, industry insiders say.

“I’ve had conversations that I definitely didn’t have more than six months ago with people in the industry who want to know what they’re missing,” says King, the Detroit developer.

“Outside of the industry, I’ve seen people have interest in investing in communities of color to right the wrongs they’re now aware of,” she adds. But “how long will it last? That’s the challenge right now.”

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com

The Menkiti Group Hosts Construction Tour of Unique Residential Development in Downtown Worcester

6 Chatham

6 Chatham Street is the inaugural project in a series of revitalization efforts The Menkiti Group is actively pursuing in the Theatre District

Reported on October 26, 2020

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


(WORCESTER, MA) – The Menkiti Group was joined by City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. along with city officials and civic leaders Monday, October 26 to tour the ongoing construction of Chatham Lofts, a new, market-rate residential apartment community located at 6 Chatham Street, Worcester, MA.  The project consists of the complete rehabilitation and historic restoration of three adjacent structures built in 1892, 1915, and 1926.  From the time of their original construction, the buildings served for many decades as the headquarters of the Worcester Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).  More recently, the property served as the home of the Worcester Center for the Performing Arts. With the introduction of these unique residences, The Menkiti Group is excited to breathe new life into an architectural gem in the heart of Downtown Worcester.

“We are proud to be delivering this residential project in tandem with nearby neighborhood serving retail and commercial office space to continue to drive the momentum of economic development in the City of Worcester, and more specifically the Theatre District” said Bo Menkiti, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Menkiti Group.  “Chatham Lofts signifies the first step in the launch Menkiti Group’s investment committed to enhancing the existence of an 18-hour thriving, diverse and culturally vibrant neighborhood supporting local residents, small business, theatre, the arts, and contributing to the city as a whole,”

At project completion, the newly renovated building will feature a total of 24 market-rate, residential apartments comprised of ten studio units, eight one-bedroom units, five two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit.  The completed project will feature a wide array of residential unit configurations, including two-story duplex units with beautifully articulated arched masonry window openings and full floor penthouse units with expansive views of the Worcester skyline.

“We are extremely excited for this project to be part of the renaissance of downtown Worcester.  Chatham Lofts takes every opportunity to highlight the existing architecture in order to deliver a distinctive residential living experience.  In concert with other nearby investments, our overarching goal is to bring new life and vibrancy to the Theatre District in support of the City’s Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan,” said Mark Rengel, Vice President of Development, The Menkiti Group.

Project design team members include R.P Masiello as the General Contractor, Elton + Hampton Architects, Petersen Engineering (MEP/FP), John J. Murphy, Jr. Electrical Construction & Engineering, Northeastern Engineering (Structural), Graves Engineering (Civil)  and MacRostie Historic Advisors serve as the Historic Consultant. 

The project has received preliminary approval for listing on the National Register of Historic Places from the National Park Service and has qualified for both federal and state historic tax credits.  The project is also receiving state and local support through a Housing Development Tax Increment Exemption (TIE) Agreement with the City of Worcester and Housing Development (HD) Investment Tax Credits through the Massachusetts Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP).  Chatham Lofts is being financed by Webster Five and the PCI Fund and equity has been raised through The Menkiti Group’s eMpower Worcester Opportunity Zone Fund, part of the Department of the Treasury’s Opportunity Zone (OZ) program.

“This project builds on the momentum of establishing a dynamic downtown neighborhood,” said city Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “It is a critical part of bringing more folks to Worcester and generating activity in and around the downtown core. It also brings to new life a real architectural gem in Downtown Worcester. The people living in Chatham Lofts will be able to walk to nearby restaurants and stores and take in all the splendor of the Theatre District. Worcester is the Heart of the Commonwealth, and the downtown area is the heartbeat of the City. That heartbeat continues to beat stronger with the addition of projects like Chatham Lofts.”

Bo Menkiti and members of The Menkiti Group team were joined at Monday’s construction tour by City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., City Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, Timothy P. Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, and community members as well as representatives and partners of the project.

 “Our company is committed to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities and the City of Worcester has welcomed us and deployment of our neighborhood investment model into their community,” said Menkiti. “Great cities are made up of great neighborhoods and the authenticity of Worcester and the strength and support of its people and its small businesses are what drew us here and drive our long-term commitment to the city.”

ABOUT THE MENKITI GROUP

The Menkiti Group is a Washington, D.C.-based real estate services company dedicated to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban neighborhoods through the strategic development, management, and sale of residential and commercial property. Over the past 15 years, The Menkiti Group has delivered and maintained in its pipeline more than 1.5 million square feet of property, has invested over $200 million in D.C.’s emerging neighborhoods, and has assisted over 2,000 families in purchasing their first homes. For more information, please visit MenkitiGroup.com or call (202) 733-5455.

 Victoria Zelefsky | vzelefsky@menkitigroup.com