On holograms, stabilizing neighborhoods and the wolf you feed

On holograms, stabilizing neighborhoods and the wolf you feed
Local investor Jerald Gary bought the iconic New Regal Theater when he was just 30

On a whim, I recently attended a workshop on ways to strengthen my long-term financial profile.  What I learned was more than just the factual info slated on the agenda.  It reminded me that we all have “glass-half-empty” and “glass-half-full” elements to our personalities.  The side which is likely to grow and guide your life and your actions is the side you feed, my twist on the old parable.  If you need to feel positivity and possibility in your life, sometimes all you need to do is look for it. It might be much closer than you think.

Nicole Wheatly poses in middle of two unknown men

Real estate investing mentor and Chicago neighborhood advocate Nicole Wheatly

Instead of running away from our beloved city currently plagued by violence, the event’s primary host, Nicole Wheatly, encouraged attendees to think of investing in promising areas which have challenges but continue to improve.  A Chicago real estate investing mogul in her own right, she told the story of how she decided she would not let growing up poor define her life.  Buying her first rental property before the age of 23, she had amassed a portfolio of dozens of investment properties before the age of 30.

Her message was not directed to representatives of huge investment companies with deep pockets.  Many of these organizations already see the value of buying in certain areas and are putting it into practice.  She was speaking to a room full of neighborhood residents and other individuals who have an interest in seeing our own communities thrive. She stressed that she shares her story not to give herself credit but to demonstrate the options available to average people who want to create a different quality of life for themselves and their families. “Let’s buy and stabilize our own neighborhoods—block by block,” she urged.

“The Micro Market Recovery Program is a neighborhood stabilization initiative targeting small geographic areas that are experiencing higher-than-normal problems with foreclosures.  In each area, the City of Chicago is working with sister agencies and community partners to re-occupy vacant residential buildings and to help existing residents remain in their homes…The City also has forgivable loans available to help current owner-occupants make home repairs.”  –City of Chicago website

And if you think our great city can’t recover from the turmoil we read about in the papers every day, just grab a history book (maybe I’m dating myself).  Or I guess you can just do a Google search.  Am I the only one who remembers what a shit bin New York City was in our lifetime?  Any young person watching a movie from 1970s New York might be confused by the context.  New York now is not the same as New York then.

Now, I know, I know.  We’re talking about two different cities with two different profiles.  My point is that it’s hard to envision that things can get better when you’re living in the fishbowl and just trying to survive, but large urban areas can recover from crippling and seemingly insurmountable problems.  NYC saw 1,814 homicides in 1980.  In 2016, they saw fewer than 350– possibly the lowest in modern history.  Chicago is struggling in this area.  But there is value here and there are still a lot of people who care about the city’s future.  Is your glass half empty, or is your glass half full?

Wheatly represents a platinum resource known as the City of Chicago’s “Micro Market Recovery Program.”  The City’s website says, “The Micro Market Recovery Program is a neighborhood stabilization initiative targeting small geographic areas that are experiencing higher-than-normal problems with foreclosures.  In each area, the City of Chicago is working with sister agencies and community partners to re-occupy vacant residential buildings and to help existing residents remain in their homes…The City also has forgivable loans available to help current owner-occupants make home repairs.”

My neighborhood of Chicago Lawn is on the list.  What does this mean?  After years of getting my ass kicked by economic factors affecting my slow-to-recover area (but still holding on and fighting tooth and nail to maintain and retain my home and my rental units), help might have been available that I didn’t even know about.  All this time I’ve been dying of thirst when I could have stepped around a corner to find a cool and refreshing mountain stream.  Okay, so I’m not a poet, but somewhere in that story I think Alanis Morrisette might be able to add another verse to that song.

jerald-gary-regal-theater-picWe heard another presentation from Jerald Gary of Community Capital Investment who, at the ripe old age of 30,  recently purchased the super-beloved and historic landmark New Regal Theater , or Avalon Regal Theater, in Chicago’s south side Avalon/South Shore area.  The Avalon Regal Theater has a storied past and traces its roots to the original Regal Theater built in 1927.  The theater is a treasure to black music not just in Chicago but across the country and around the world.  Gary’s interest in The New Regal dates back to a visit to see the Chicago Sinfonieta when he was a child growing up on 79th and Evans.  Gary was chosen by Crain’s Chicago Business for their “Twenty in Their 20s” list in 2014.

Gary plans to upgrade the facility into a hologram theater to show performances by performers both living and dead (similar to the Tupac’s 2012 Coachella performance more than 15 years after his death).  Now that’s what I call fighting for your neighborhood.

Tupac's "performance" 15 years after his death

Tupac’s “performance” 15 years after his death

All of this got me thinking.  It made me remember that I attend various workshops and presentations like this not only for the information presented by the facilitators.  I also attend to step into an atmosphere where my own thinking is transformed and expanded to see opportunities BEYOND the challenges.  I have literally gone to workshops where the presenter covered one particular topic but the positive energy they generated unlocked my own mind to remember some long-forgotten helpful piece of info I learned elsewhere.  Or the good vibes helped me to decide to take action and seek out a solution to an unrelated issue I was having with running my rentals.  Add to that the networking with other attendees who are willing to think outside of the box of just going for the 9 to 5 and I’m reminded of how I NEED to regularly attend events like this to keep my entrepreneurial batteries charged.

The majestic Moorish Revival-style auditorium of the Avalon Regal Theater

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of neighborhoods served by the City of Chicago’s “Micro Market Recovery Program”

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