Mixing it Up

Changing the Game for updating our cities.

In reading the 2012 article about Fundrise, the Kickstarter of Real estate development, I was intrigued with where their model has grown and the potentials it presents in cities like Seattle. Place-based investment by those that can touch, experience, or benefit from the improvement is a wonderful idea that may move us away from creating generic urban projects and allow us to craft synergistic projects that really reflect our cities.

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The Fundrise website is slick, easy to navigate, and modern— embodying all the necessary elements to appeal to the tech-savvy millennials, a great source of investment into their model. The Miller brothers have branched out to work with a larger investor network that has links in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.  There are three Fundrise networked investors in Seattle, all of them have a  focus in mixed use.

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Exploring the larger network I was intrigued to find the option to sort their investors by type.

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Given the current interest in affordable housing in Seattle that was the first sector I looked into. While there are no partners in the Seattle area working in the affordable housing arena there are three partners on the Fundrise site that work in that area. The three cities with affordable housing connections are Austin, Chicago, and San Francisco.

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MPP Realty Group LLC, in Austin, presents a third unique approach to developing affordable housing in urban settings. MPP markets their focuses on ‘value creation though the innovative reuse of shipping containers’ as a selling point for their approach. Their model that takes a waste product and turns it into a necessary item has been utilized in Austin, Detroit, and Vancover, BC.

The Handbuilt City is a project that focuses its resources on Gary, IN and St. Louis, MO. Their blog, linked to the Handbuilt City page on Fundrise, goes into detail the potentials for decentralized investment solutions to both create social capital, increase knowledge, and share investment risks. The Handbuilt City focuses not just on the traditional economic capital but starts to reinvest in the long ignored social capital of our cities.

The San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) focuses on maintaining rental affordability through creating an opportunity to residents to own part of the building they occupy while SFCLT maintains ownership of the land. SFCLT takes on the majority of the financial responsibilities and fosters the longterm health of the project through monitoring, education, and assessment.

These new options for funding development of affordable housing could inspire citizens and developers in Seattle to look at a new way to create affordable or mixed income housing that meets the demands of the city and the desires of the people in it. While I’m unsure of the best way to go about changing the way the development game is played in Seattle, I do think decentralized funding could be a tool to change it.  I’m personally going to keep an eye on what the Fundrise network is doing here in Seattle, it would be interesting to have a stake in the future of the city.

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