For Immediate Release

Detroit Food Entrepreneur Receives First Better Buildings, Better Blocks Prize

Detroit, Michigan, 8/23/2017 - After three months of participation in Building Community Value’s Better Buildings, Better Blocks program, Chalonda Mitchell-Boykin was selected by her peers and by a panel of real estate development professionals to receive an award of $1,750 to be used toward professional services and development costs for a proposed real estate project in the City of Detroit. This award includes contributions from First American Title Insurance Company, PM Environmental, Inc., and The Platform LLC.

After receiving the award, Chalonda explained, "Before participating in Better Buildings, Better Blocks, I had a strong desire to invest in real estate. This program has increased my confidence by providing a thorough explanation of the ins and outs of neighborhood real estate development.  I learned that, while financial success is important, an investment's success is not solely based on the amount of money to be made but also on the value and betterment that you are offering to your community. "

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and selected as one of 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge, Better Buildings, Better Blocks is a program held at the U-M Detroit Center and open to any adult resident of Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck, Michigan. Over the course of three months, the community-based education program, taught by Dietrich Knoer, CEO of The Platform LLC, guides participants through the basics of small-scale real estate development, including identification, acquisition, financing, leasing, and project management.

In addition to regular coursework, which requires attendance at six in-person sessions, engagement with a standard textbook, and review of additional online video lectures, the program requires each student, individually or in groups of two, to present a capstone project proposing a residential or commercial real estate development in one of the target geographies.

On Saturday, August 19, 2017, in front of a packed room of her peers and guest judges, Chalonda, a food entrepreneur and member of FoodLab Detroit, presented her proposal for a mixed-use project along the Woodward corridor in NW Detroit, which would include two market rate apartments on the top floor and two commercial venues on the building’s first floor. One such commercial space would house Basil Eatery, a soul food fusion concept, which she currently operates as a catering business and would like to expand into a dedicated brick and mortar space.

One of the guest judges, Melinda Clemons, a senior loan officer at a national community development financial institution known as Capital Impact Partners, explained that she “was impressed by the level of detail included in each presentation. It is exciting to see the passion of these future developers."

From this process, David Baker and Megan McGreal, presenting as a team, emerged as the runners up, receiving an award of $750. Each being employees of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, their project focused on a residential rehabilitation project in the LaSalle Gardens neighborhood, just west of Henry Ford Hospital’s Detroit campus. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of our students and the results of this summer’s course,” said Chase L. Cantrell, founder and director of Building Community Value. “To see many students go from having a vague notion about development to being able to present a polished qualitative and economic analysis of a proposed project is both inspiring and why we continue to scale this program model.”

For additional information regarding the program, which is currently offered twice each year, please visit www.bcvdetroit.org/programs or contact program staff at speakup@bcvdetroit.org.

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 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.