Daryl Brooks, owner of Stellar Building & Construction, has been a carpenter/ carpenter contractor for the past 25 years, and he’s been involved in the rough carpentry of over 30,000 units. He has worked on many Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects, but was never involved in putting the deals together himself.
In order to do just that, Brooks became a CEDAM member and attended the Building Michigan Communities Conference (BMCC) this past May, where he was able to network and build a foundation of affordable housing knowledge.
One month later, CEDAM’s Real Estate Development Boot Camp proved to be another important catalyst for action. The four-day training, which covered site selection, legal structures, development teams, proformas, financing and more, ended with attendees pitching realistic project proposals to a funding panel comprised of people who review and fund affordable housing development projects.
“It would be nearly impossible to put together a deal that would have a chance of being approved without this [bootcamp] training,” Brooks said. “To have had so many people from the industry there, who look at projects everyday, it was invaluable. The feedback that we received and the interaction with all of the panel as well as the others attending was priceless.”
Brooks has worked hard this summer to network and gain more knowledge about the process, much of which has come from actually pursuing development projects in Flint, where his revitalization efforts are targeted. He’s making headway, closing on a new building sometime next week, and is currently working on an office space. When it comes to housing development, he is facing a few roadblocks, but he refuses to be discouraged.
“We’re not the kind of people that take no for an answer very easily,” he said.
At the end of the day, he’s pursuing the developer route because he’s determined to focus on the community. It’s important to him that projects aren’t profit driven. He wants to give weight to the community, and think about how one can impact it positively by creating jobs. He wants to create good, decent living spaces, and a nice community that will integrate well within the existing area.
In addition to pursuing development projects, Brooks and his daughter Alexandra are in the process of starting a nonprofit organization in Flint as well.
A main focus of the new organization will be a training program that leads to jobs in the Skilled Trades industry — and he’ll be pushing to get more women and minority groups that are often excluded from the trades to be a part of the program.
It’s clear to Brooks that he needs more workers, not more work, and the best way to go about that is to streamline the process and train people himself.
He wants service to be a focus of the nonprofit as well, hoping to help neighborhoods through garbage clean-up, overgrowth maintenance and sidewalk improvements.
“We’re going to try to see what we can do with partnering with the nonprofits up there to help reclaim the city, to renovate, to revive it,” Brooks said. “It’s a lot on the plate. We’re still trying to get people on our board who can see this vision of what it’s going to be and then we obviously want to meet with the community groups and we’d like people from the community… We’d like people in the community to have a voice to say you know, ‘we think that would be best’. It’s their neighborhood, we’re the new guy on the block — we just bought a place, we just moved in.”
Brooks is continuously trying to prove himself, to show people that he’s the guy to work with.
“We’re not bringing this one and done thing. We’re bringing jobs that people can have for an extended period of time. We’re bringing a totally different game that nobody has seen yet.”
It’s a busy and hard road ahead but, as Brooks said: “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”