For Immediate Release
June 12, 2017
Building Community Value Named Knight Cities Challenge Winner for a
Project to Empower Detroiters to Equitably Develop Their Communities
Detroit, MI, USA - Building Community Value is honored to announce that, out of more than 4,500 applicants, it has been selected as one of 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge for its collaborative project Better Buildings, Better Blocks. Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Cities Challenge seeks ideas that help make cities more vibrant places to live and work, focusing on one or more of three drivers of city success: keeping and attracting talent, expanding opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.
“Creating new opportunities for Detroit’s diverse communities to contribute to city-building is vital to advancing more positive change in the city,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “This project seeks to do just that -- opening avenues for homegrown talent to thrive and helping to create more of the kind of neighborhoods where people want to live and work.”
Through Better Buildings, Better Blocks, Building Community Value will implement a community-based education program to empower residents of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park to execute small-scale, residential and commercial real estate projects in their neighborhoods. By utilizing a curriculum adapted from a course developed and taught by Peter Allen of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and previously piloted by U-M’s School of Social Work Technical Assistance Center, Building Community Value is endeavoring to provide the knowledge, tools, and support necessary for community members to actively influence development within each of their neighborhoods.
“We are all experiencing a very unique moment in Detroit’s history,” said Chase L. Cantrell, founder and executive director of Building Community Value. “At a time when investment and interest in real estate development within the city’s Central Business District and select historic neighborhoods are escalating, we have to ensure that Detroiters who remained dedicated to the city during its turbulent years not only have a voice in its redevelopment but also can play an active role in redeveloping vacant or underutilized spaces, preserving the cultural heritage of their neighborhoods, and building wealth for themselves and for their families.”
To empower Detroit residents to lead neighborhood-based residential and commercial development projects, the program will teach participants the basics of identification, acquisition, financing, leasing, and project management. Through six class sessions taught by an expert instructor with real-world development experience, fifteen online video lectures, a reputable textbook, and weekly office hour sessions, Better Buildings, Better Blocks will assist in removing barriers to the development ecosystem and will expose a broader, local, more diverse population to the world of neighborhood-based real estate development.
Dietrich Knoer, the instructor of the course, is the President and CEO of The Platform, a Detroit real estate development firm dedicated to the rebuilding of Detroit. “I am excited to be given the opportunity to work with Detroiters who are aspiring real estate developers. Giving Detroit residents the tools to pursue development opportunities in their neighborhoods will create opportunities to participate in Detroit’s resurgence and the recovering real estate market.”
The class, which begins this month at the U-M Detroit Center, has attracted applicants from every district within the city. With ages ranging from 22 to 77 years old, applicants for this summer’s class represent a pool of candidates across many categories, including gender, race, sexual orientation, and academic and real estate development experience. With the goal of creating classes that are both inclusive and diverse, program administrators hope to foster a learning environment where participants are encouraged to share their varied life experiences and expand their professional networks for potential future partnerships.
This distinctive collaboration between a local nonprofit, for-profit enterprise, and academic institution provides a strong model for community-based training that each organization hopes can inspire other such partnerships across the state. “The Technical Assistance Center works to empower resident-led changemaking and to develop innovations that promote equity and opportunity for Detroiters,” said Sonia Harb, the director of the Technical Assistance Center. “We are thrilled with this partnership and confident that under Building Community Value’s leadership this initiative will grow and be taken to scale in the city.”
Building Community Value and its implementation partners firmly believe in the transformative ability of strong partnerships across sectors to instigate catalytic local neighborhood development.
About Building Community Value: Building Community Value is an organization inspired by the rich history embedded in Detroit's many neighborhoods. Its primary goal is to spur catalyst real estate developments outside of the city's central business district to provide residents in predominantly African-American communities greater access to service and product offerings that reflect their needs.
About The Platform: The Platform was established in 2016, when the acquisition of the iconic Fisher Building brought Peter Cummings and Dietrich Knoer together. With more than 60 collective years of experience—and a legacy of successful development projects in Detroit—they made a conscious decision to build a platform that would contribute to the city’s resurgence. They assembled a team of young professionals poised to be the next generation of developers through ongoing mentorship and hands-on experience. The Platform’s vision includes developments that create quality residential and retail opportunities along the Woodward Corridor, as well as the neighborhoods that embrace the whole of the city in equally vibrant and sometimes unexpected ways.
About the Technical Assistance Center: The University of Michigan School of Social Work Technical Assistance Center (TAC) is an 11 year old initiative that is dedicated to promoting socially just communities and supporting Detroit residents and stakeholders as they work to strengthen and improve their neighborhoods. Typical activities of the TAC include community-campus partnership building, individual and organizational technical assistance, community based research, evaluation, and the implementation of pilot interventions.
About the The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.
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