Diversifying real estate with new classes that let participants network with industry professionals

A new industry-supported program designed to educate and mentor the next generation of Cincinnati real estate professionals will start in October and end in May of 2020.

Thanks to the Urban Land Institute Cincinnati (ULI) and LISC Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky, The Real Estate Accelerator Lab (REAL) will offer eight months of classes designed to expand diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender identity in real estate development, and give participants the chance to network with industry professionals. Classes will be held at the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber on Gilbert Avenue.

It’s open to anyone in the industry or people with an entrepreneurial spirit looking to break into real estate, according to Kim Fantaci, the district council coordinator at ULI.

“There are great folks, for instance, even with the community development groups, who know enough about real estate development but they’re not quite there,” she says.

So ULI and LISC partnered to figure out how to help them gain more knowledge. After looking at similar programs run by both organizations throughout the country, they sat down with their volunteer board to design the courses.

Each one will focus on a different area of real estate development.

“We’ll have one where we actually go out and see a mixed use — a residential and a commercial project — so the participants in this class will actually go out and do a field trip, get to see those, and get to hear from the players within those projects,” Fantaci says.

“They’ll get to hear from those that financed the project, those that helped design the project, those that are helping to sell it,” she continues. “All of that will be a kind of hands-on experience and they’ll get to see it.”

There also will be classes on different financing tools, design, and other phases of the real estate development process, which is perfect for people looking to broaden their knowledge on topics outside of their areas of expertise.

Some students, for example, are being sent by employers — like architects and landscape architects — to give them a broader exposure to the whole process.

There’s also a class dedicated to interacting with communities that might be resistant to development.

“They’ll get a better understanding of what the developer’s thought process is, what’s behind all of that, and, hopefully, in most of these cases, they’ll learn that the overall intention is not to push anyone out, it’s to work with them,” says Fantaci.

“Hopefully,” she continues, “we can continue to build that awareness and how they can work with the development projects that are coming into their area as well.”

One way they plan to accomplish this is through something called mTAPs, or mini-taps (technical assistance panels). ULI runs TAPs throughout the country, which involves bringing in people with experience — like architects and city planners — and helping communities solve issues. Locally, TAPs have covered everything from housing to downtown districts in places like Glendale, Walnut Hills, and Clifton, among others.

With the mTAPs, program, participants will work with mentors from ULI and LISC over the eight-month period to solve small community issues. The work is free, which will help communities that might not have the funding for this kind of assistance. (Community organizations can apply to have an mTAP done here.)

“We want to connect these participants with as many mentors and folks that are in the real estate development profession as we can,” she says.

Participants will be able to request scholarships — up to 80 percent of tuition — thanks to generous sponsors.

“We’re committed to making sure this is a diverse class,” says Fantaci. “So we want to make sure that’s going to be done throughout the entire process on our selections.”

Classes will be capped at 22–25 students, but will be offered again next year. For more information, or to apply by August 30th, click here.

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Read more articles by Jessica Esemplare.

Jessica Esemplare is the managing editor of Soapbox Cincinnati and a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Shortly after completing her degree in magazine journalism, she began covering local and regional topics at The Cincinnati Herald and, later, as an editor at Ohio Magazine. Her writing has also been featured in U.S. News and World Report.