Group working to connect investors to Portland neighborhood infill projects
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
The developers behind the Eco Flats building in North Portland said it took them two years to raise money for the project but only 30 days to lease the building. Guerilla Development Capital would like to shrink the time it takes to fund good projects.
A group under the working name Guerilla Development Capital is hosting a meeting this week to stoke interest in a new kind of investment platform that would connect individuals who have money to invest in real estate with community-minded developers looking to build innovative infill projects.
Tom Osdoba, a consultant who was recently named vice president of green initiatives with affordable housing company Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Community Partners, is leading the effort.
"We've been working on this for over a year," Osdoba said.
Guerilla has half-dozen neighborhood-oriented developers lined up who are looking to raise money for community-scale projects that mix housing with retail and other uses. Now the group aims to find investors to connect with those developers.
"There should be a platform for investors interested in community development," said Osdoba, who is the former director of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon.
The idea for the effort began when MBA students Osdoba was working with at UO collaborated on a project with Mercy Corps NW which became a neighborhood real estate investment trust focused on the Lents neighborhood and launched earlier this year.
The idea crystallized further when Osdoba heard the story of the Eco Flats project, a bike-friendly, mixed-use apartment building on North Williams.
The developers behind that project, Jean-Pierre Veillet and Doug Shapiro, told Osdoba, "It took us two years to get our financing in place. It took us 30 days to lease the building."
Osdoba said that other similarly scaled projects, which are often deemed to risky for more traditional financing, stay on the drawing board due to a lack of cash. He argues that these projects are important for sustainable city development and are positive additions to their neighborhoods. He cites Kevin Cavenaugh's Ocean building, which made use of an old tire center to create a space for bigger-than-a-food-cart but smaller-than-a-restaurant businesses.
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