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Philly Developers Get $10M Infusion of Cash on Toward Goal of Creating Largest Black-Owned Real Estate Development Firm on East Coast

A Black-owned real estate development company in Pennsylvania received a $10 million boost in funding last week from a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The $10 million from Josh Harris will be used to help create the largest minority-owned real estate development companies on the East Coast, Mosaic Development said. Mosaic’s founder and co-owner Leslie Smallwood-Lewis told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the $10 million will also help the firm hire more workers for real estate projects outside of Philadelphia.

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis, Mosaic founder and co-owner/One of the company’s projects Sharswood Development (both images from www.mosaicdp.com)

“It’s going to enable us to do more of what we’ve already been doing,” Smallwood-Lewis said. “When we, as the developers, are making those decisions as to who the professional service providers will be in our projects, we’re able to reach out to those who have really not been selected to be parts of teams of these impactful projects.”

Mosaic, whose is also co-owed by Gregory Reaves, specializes in mixed-use developments mostly in Philadelphia. The company’s work is noteworthy because the company it is one of the few Black-owned real estate developers in the U.S. Although no official statistics exist, an August 2020 report from the Urban Land Institute estimated that only 5 percent of real estate companies are Black-owned compared to more than 80 percent that are white-owned.

Harris was inspired to invest after seeing a project Mosaic redeveloped at Sharswood Ridge, ABC News’ Philadelphia affiliate reported. The project is expected to finish in October 2022 and include a senior care facility, the station reported.

The Philadelphia area will demand more than 11,000 new rental units between 2019 and 2022, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development predicted. A handful of apartment complex projects launched in 2019 and 2020 — including The Hamilton in Center City Philadelphia — to help meet that demand, HUD noted.

Mosaic is also a lead company on a new $2.6 billion residential complex underway at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Mosaic and the other development partners told the Inquirer that 35 percent of the construction staff will be workers of color. The project is scheduled to break ground later this year and finish in 2024.

Harris, who co-owns Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment with David Blitzer, said the $10 million is aimed at “long-term change for all Philadelphians.”

“Mosaic is one of Philadelphia’s most innovative developers and a leader in pioneering a model for community development that truly engages residents, expands local hiring and furthers opportunities for equitable wealth creation,” Harris told the Inquirer. “I am proud to support Mosaic’s ambition to expand their work.”

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