A Decade of Change: Capital Impact's Detroit 10th Anniversary

Capital Impact Partners Celebrates A Decade In Detroit and $300 Million in Investments for Social and Economic Justice

(DETROIT, MI/ARLINGTON, VA – October 21, 2021) Capital Impact Partners, a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is celebrating 10 years of working with Detroit. The company also marked a milestone of $300 million in investments to expand economic, social and racial justice for underestimated communities through an inclusive growth strategy.

These investments include affordable, mixed-use housing projects, high-quality health care, education, and healthy food efforts as well as community development enterprises. Through these efforts Capital Impact has:

  • Served more than 4,000 Detroiters—of whom 31% are living with low-to-moderate incomes
  • Financed the creation of nearly 2,000 homes in Detroit to support increased density and affordability. Nearly 800 of these homes are maintained for individuals and families earning low incomes. 
  • Supported Detroit’s next generation of leaders by serving more than 2,000 students, of whom 1,695 identify as Black and 731 live in households earning low-to-moderate-incomes. Students supported have achieved a 100% graduation and post-high school attendance rate. 

Capital Impact came to Detroit at the invitation of the Kresge Foundation as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative. Capital Impact was the only national lender joining with a broad array of local partners, including the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc., Skillman Foundation and Vanguard Community Development Corporation. In the wake of the Great Recession and massive population decline, the goal was to drive reinvestment along the Woodward Corridor and generate benefits for area residents. 

Now, with an office in the heart of Detroit and a local team of 11, Capital Impact continues to manage a broad array of financing efforts and programs that support inclusive growth and generational wealth building.

“In the beginning, Detroit chose us due to our national expertise in driving financing into disinvested neighborhoods. Over the past decade, we have learned as much from Detroit as we have contributed,” said Elllis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact and CDC Small Business Finance. “Working closely with Detroiters, local nonprofits, CDFIs, government agencies and investors has taught us what it truly means to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the community to create trust and uplift their solutions. We’ve learned what it means to invest in people and address systemic barriers to success.”

Capital Impact’s strategy evolved as a result of its experience in Detroit to create a holistic approach that involves financing affordable, mixed-use housing projects, providing capacity building to emerging Black developers and creating tailored loan products for those individuals and partnering with local organizations, supporting small business entrepreneurs and engaging with government agencies. 

“Capital Impact has been in a leadership position in the city for a while because of their very early success and their willingness to plant a flag here and be very committed to the work in the city in a very city-based context as opposed to being a delivery mechanism for sort of like national tools,” said Aaron Seybert, managing director of the Social Investment Practice at The Kresge Foundation.

Below are a few highlights of Capital Impact’s work over the last decade.

Mission-Driven Financing that Supports Inclusive Growth

The Auburn

The Auburn represented Capital Impact’s first catalytic, mixed-used development as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative to encourage revitalization of the Woodward Corridor. This new construction 56,000 square-foot facility on the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in the heart of Midtown Detroit is just one block from the (then proposed) M-1 rail line and just a few blocks from area anchor institutions including Wayne State University, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Medical Center. 

It includes space for 11 businesses, such as the iconic Source Booksellers owned and operated by a Black female entrepreneur. Twenty percent of the residential space was reserved to ensure affordability for local residents. Project partners included Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc., and the Roxbury Group.

You can learn more about the Auburn project in this story and this video.

Argonaut Building | A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education

Built in 1928, the 12-story Art Deco-style building known as the Argonaut in Detroit’s New Center has had several lives, including General Motors’ Research Lab. After sitting dark for 10 years, Capital Impact provided New Markets Tax Credit financing in support of a larger $145 million renovation. 

Rechristened as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, it now houses the College for Creative Studies, a leading institution for art and design education; University Prep Art & Design, a charter middle school and high school with design-focused curricula; and Shinola’s Detroit manufacturing operation. The transformation has been hailed as one of the most important downtown redevelopment projects in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

You can learn more about the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in this story, and meet one of the Henry Ford Academy (now known as University Prep Art & Design) students in this profile.

The Coe

As part of its then $100 million commitment to Detroit, JPMorgan Chase supported Capital Impact’s Detroit Neighborhoods Fund. The goal of this effort was to work across a variety of Detroit neighborhoods to return vacant properties to productive use, underwrite “missing middle” projects that fill gaps in the neighborhood fabric, increase access to neighborhood retail and provide housing for residents across the income spectrum.

The Coe represented a significant project for Capital Impact’s strategy to support smaller-scale projects embedded in neighborhoods. The once vacant lot was turned into a 12-unit, mixed-use development with both retail and affordable homes. Located directly between the Kercheval and Agnes Street commercial areas, the Coe supports a larger vision to revitalize the West Village into a mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable neighborhood.

The project was led by Woodburn Partners’ Clifford Brown, a Black developer with strong relationships throughout Detroit. The company has a mission of “Building Lives, Communities, and Wealth” in neighborhoods that have historically been overlooked for development. Brown also played a key role as a mentor in Capital Impact’s Equitable Development Initiative.

Invest Detroit, Broder & Sachse Real Estate and Sachse Construction also served as key partners.

“As part of JP Morgan Chase’s Detroit initiative, we committed $40 million in flexible, long-term capital, and 10 million in grants to two leading nonprofit CDFIs; one of those being Capital Impact Partners. Capital Impact was already a longstanding client and partner and had the local market presence and know-how, along with the critical community based financing expertise and products to bring more flexible development financing for affordable housing and mixed use projects in Detroit like the Coe and other projects financing through their Detroit Neighborhoods Fund,” said Michael Rhodes, Vice President of Equity Capital Markets for JPMorgan Chase. “Capital Impact is also a mission-driven organization committed to equitable inclusive community development and social and economic justice.”

The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood

A first of its kind, The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood provides integrated care in a community setting. This innovative project created a national model by offering integrated service delivery including: Program for the All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE), expansion location for The Center for Senior Independence (CSI); affordable assisted living (AAL) apartments with home health services; affordable senior independent living apartments; and Green House® permanent supportive housing with 20 nursing care professionals.

Capital Impact’s financing helped to complete the final phase of the project, which serves a number of seniors living with low-incomes and those eligible for Medicare. This first-of-its-kind partnership between PACE and a Green House® operator expects to save approximately $130,000 a year over institutional nursing care.

Located along the Detroit River just east of Detroit, Thome Rivertown residents are able to live in a vibrant area close to shopping and restaurants. 

This unique project included a variety of community partners, including Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan’s Detroit Neighborhood Fund, Detroit Housing Commission, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, City of Detroit, Wayne County, The Kresge Foundation and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Northern Initiatives

Direct financing of projects that support equitable access to critical social services is a key strategy of Capital Impact. Through its participation in the Michigan Good Food Fund, Capital Impact also invests directly in intermediary lenders who help amplify support for healthy food systems and enterprises across Michigan. 

One key example of this strategy was an investment in Northern Initiatives to administer loans less than $250,000 to grocery stores, food growers and entrepreneurs. In addition, Northern Initiatives used the investment to increase its technical assistance capabilities. As part of Capital Impact’s support, Northern Initiatives has made a number of high impact loans to small businesses run by individuals of color, including Placita Olvera – Supermercado Mexico, Forty Acres and Abeshi Ghanian Culture.

The Michigan Good Food Fund core partners include Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Programs Driving Equity and Opportunity in Detroit

Equitable Development Initiative

In 2017, Capital Impact conducted an analysis that revealed much of their lending, while achieving positive outcomes, was not serving real estate developers of color. In a majority-Black city, Capital Impact recognized the need to develop solutions to see the kind of developer level outcomes it had hoped to achieve.

With local guidance, the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) was created to provide emerging developers of color with training, mentorship and connections to secure financing. Since inception, the EDI program has trained 86 developers, many who have gone on to create their own organizations, build local projects and develop peer-to-peer networking circles.

JPMorgan Chase was an instrumental financing partner to help build the program.

“In addition to creating ‘developers,’ Capital Impact’s EDI program has created people who are more knowledgeable within the real estate space,” said Cliff Brown, a managing partner at Woodborn Partners and mentor in the EDI program. “The program has taken an underrepresented population and taught them how real estate development works, how capital works, how equity works and how wealth works. The EDI program has brought different voices to the table.” 

“Capital Impact’s focus on helping us and up-skilling us Black and Brown developers, is actually paying off because you’re seeing a lot of the participants from that program being a part of these newer developments that are happening across the city,” said Edward Carrington, founder of Flux City and EDI cohort graduate.

Diversity in Development – Detroit Loan Fund

With feedback from EDI participants who still felt there was a barrier to accessing capital due to stringent underwriting standards, Capital Impact developed the Diversity in Development – Detroit Loan Fund. This initiative is designed to increase access to flexible and low-cost construction financing for real estate developers of color spearheading multifamily and mixed-use projects throughout Detroit. Nearly $100 million in applications were received with announcements forthcoming by Capital Impact on projects it intends to support.

Michigan Good Food Fund

Capital Impact Partners is one of the founding members of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a statewide loan fund that invests in good food enterprises working to increase access to healthy food and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most. 

Since inception, this initiative has provided more than $17 million in loans and grants supporting over 300 Michigan-based food businesses that grow, process, distribute and sell healthy food. Fifty-three percent of the loans went to businesses led by people of color and 61% went to businesses led by women.

Some of the businesses the Michigan Good Food Fund have supported include Torti Taco, North Flint Food Market, Zilke Vegetable Farm and Country Style Marketplace. Key partners include the Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Stay Midtown

Capital Impact joined with Midtown Detroit, Inc. in to launch Stay Midtown, an initiative designed to address the housing supply gap for long-term residents living in Detroit’s rapidly redeveloping Midtown neighborhood. Due to the economic status amidst the growth of the city, these residents were at risk of displacement. The objective of Stay Midtown was to help Detroit residents maintain housing security during this period of high demand and limited supply, which was anticipated to lessen given increases in affordable housing options across all income levels.

The program provided up to $1,500 annually in rental assistance for three years to help reduce housing cost burdens and help reach targeted levels of housing affordability for that area of the city. An evaluation of the program found that it provided rental assistance to 152 households and supported an additional four households with relocation services. Stay Midtown helped participants reduce their average housing costs from 42% of household income to 37%. Twenty-two percent were able to reduce their housing costs to 30% of their household income.

Restore North End

With support from Capital Impact and The Kresge Foundation, Vanguard Community Development Corporation and Michigan Lending Solutions launched the Restore North End: Owner-Occupied Home Rehab Program. The goal was to offer financial assistance to homeowners in Detroit’s North End neighborhood to repair and rehabilitate their residences with the main purpose of eliminating blighted conditions by increasing the attractiveness, marketability and viability of the neighborhood’s most stable residential blocks.

A Powerful New Enterprise for Communities and Small Business

Most recently, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance, the nation’s leading mission-based small business lender to innovate how capital and investments flow into historically disinvested communities. This new enterprise expands Capital Impact’s traditional offerings to include support for small businesses to develop and implement high-touch, scalable solutions that support economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation. Detroit is one of three place-based pilot locations where the organization will actively engage with community members to understand regional barriers to opportunity and work together to create tools, programs, and services that are strategically customized to address those high-priority issues. 


To learn more about Capital Impact Partners, please visit www.capitalimpact.org.

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About Capital Impact Partners

Through capital and commitment, Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. We work to champion key issues of equity and social and economic justice by deploying mission-driven financing, capacity-building programs, and impact investing opportunities. 

A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $2.5 billion since 1982. In 2020, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance under one leadership team and national strategy to reinvent traditional and mainstream financial systems. Our goal is to ensure these systems equitably serve communities of color to drive community-led solutions that support economic mobility and wealth creation. 

Our leadership in delivering financial and social impact has resulted in Capital Impact being rated by S&P Global and recognized by Aeris for our performance. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Austin, TX, Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA.

Learn more at www.capitalimpact.org and www.investedincommunities.org.

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