Third Ward organization empowers residents to reclaim property through community led design anchored by Emancipation Park

Third Ward organization empowers residents to reclaim property through community led design anchored by Emancipation Park

In response to the changes happening in their area a group of residents created The 3rd Ward Real Estate Council, Inc. The organization is a 501c3 development company aimed at providing more equitable opportunities in real estate through education, building capacity, and responsible development practices. Through its Do The Things That Matters campaign, the council looks to create a community of local developers as a way to manage the growing changes in communities across the country. The campaign utilizes programming, projects, and lot activations to engage local residents and business owners; empowering them to take ownership of their communities.

The organization recently welcomed residents  on site at their most recent activation for a development known as Project Griffin, located at 3302 Emancipation Street. Attendees were able to experience a mural design exhibition sponsored by Sherwin- Williams, an interactive design generator, a developer’s roundtable and go on a bike ride around Emancipation Park. The demonstration of tactical urbanism was designed to engage the community in meaningful dialogue that empowered them while highlighting the built environment surrounding the project.  The commercial site sits 3 miles southeast of downtown, 1 block away from the Historic Emancipation Park on a 5000 square foot corner lot nearby a new class A office building and emerging shops and services. 

 The mural is aimed at introducing youth to the missing middle as a way of connecting them to real estate and community development. The design marks a call for sponsors of this year’s youth program set to begin this summer. The roundtable discussion with local developers Mel Young, Donovan Adesora and commercial real estate advisor Tiffany Ryland gave attendees insight into the development process. Panelists were able to share their experiences and thoughts on generational wealth, team building  in real estate, and the importance of commercial real estate in rebuilding communities. Founders Arica Bailey and Carlos Espinoza of CGES Bailey Planning led a bike tour to connect with the history of the area’s architecture and educate attendees on current and changing development guidelines. The day was anchored by an idea generator led by VP of Real Estate Development for the Council, Greg Benjamin, AIA.Attendees were able to provide input on the future development of the site as it relates to form, function, programming, and design features. 

Campaign partners and community leaders Andre Beraud of Yes to Real Estate, Garland Harris lead architect and owner of Middle Housing Design Co, and Lloyd Ford of Creative Group Economics were all able to lead groups to collect valuable input on the future development. To gather continued feedback the Council looks to leave the survey open online for others to take (take survey). Results will be shared in the groups private Facebook group, email list, and with annual supporters before being incorporated into actual development plans.

This exercise in community led design is exactly the type of responsible practices we need to exercise more of in communities like Third Ward. Project Griffin will become a model for others to follow as it will push against parking standards, design practices, and programming context. Tactical demonstrations like this that challenge policy, raise awareness, and activate initiatives are integral to empowering communities to advocate from a bottom up approach in an actionable and impactful way.

Looking forward, Director Brittany Hyman expressed her excitement to be able to bring resources and opportunities to the area this year as they host a housing fair, youth summit, and pipeline of projects for their supporters to invest in together. Supporters of the Do the Things that Matter campaign are granted access to free educational resources on real estate and community development, provided technical assistance on projects, and are able to invest in projects led by the Council. If you are interested in learning more about the Third Ward Real Estate Council or would like to become a supporter you can visit their site at . Aside from Project Griffin, the Council is set to break ground on several residential and commercial projects that support the long term growth of Third Ward and surrounding communities.

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