New York

Minority developers convene to discuss construction equality

NEW YORK – The Developers of Color Convening conference took place Wednesday at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture in Harlem. Minority developers are working together to achieve equal opportunity in construction.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, hosted this inaugural summit to bring together more than 100 leaders in real estate and redevelopment.

“All that you have accomplished is amazing, yet we’ve all done it individually,” Ken McIntyre, CEO of the Real Estate Executive Council, told the crowd.

As Black and Brown communities like Harlem fight to maintain their identity, these executives want to ensure new developments are designed by those who know the neighborhood best.

“That money gets invested in a community, but the developers may not be developers of color,” said Valerie White, senior executive director of the New York City branch of LISC.

In fact, LISC reports minority firms were awarded just 2% of construction contracts in the city in the first two quarters of 2022.

The conference also featured developers of the proposed $3.5 billion Affirmation Tower project. The minority-led team aims to build one of the tallest buildings in the world in a vacant state-owned lot across the street from the Javits Center.

They have dedicated 35%, or more than $1 billion, to minority and women-owned business enterprises.

“This is an opportunity to have an inflection point and change the paradigm,” said Craig Livingston, managing partner at Exact Capital and member of the Affirmation Tower team.

In December, though, Empire State Development rescinded the request for proposals under the guidance of Gov. Kathy Hochul, saying in a statement, “to reassess development priorities and solicit more input from the local community and other stakeholders.”

“There seems to be a misalignment with the aspirations of the core part of the Democratic constituency and the leadership of the Democratic Party,” Livingston told CBS2’s Jessi Mitchell.

The Affirmation Tower developers are still hopeful the project can move forward, in one location or another.

Other hopeful developers are applying to LISC’s second summer cohort program to gain free access to valuable resources.

“Developers who had their project and had it refined during the time of the cohort were able to actually make a pitch to financial investors,” White said of the pilot class.

LISC will accept 24 developers for the cohort. Applications are open through May 25. To learn more, click here.

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