David and I discussed Detroit all the time for over 6 months while the City was in bankruptcy, planning the approach and strategy of what would become Century Partners. Still, when it all started at full speed in February 2015 – and furthermore when David moved here in May that year, those initial months were incredibly intense and filled with uncertain moments.
It was not until we leased our first house in August 2015 that I felt confident our plans would succeed.
~ ANDREW COLOM
The Spring of 2015, I was riding high. I was preparing to close a successful 8 year run as a Wall Street investment banker and was excited to begin my next chapter in Detroit, MI, working to build Century Partners with my friend and mentor, Andrew.
All the boxes were checked: we had years of research on the city, a mission I strongly believed in, a compelling and financially sound investment strategy, some friends and family capital in the bank and already owned a few beautiful historic homes on Atkinson Street. All was good, better than good.
But as I gazed out the window while my plane descended upon the tarmac at DTW, my sky high vision was grounded with feelings of anxiousness and doubt as the unknowns began to pile up: Will this venture succeed? Will Detroit residents support us? Could we find reliable and cost effective contractors?
However, this journey worked out, the one, and perhaps only, thing I was 100% confident about at the time was that our lives would be changed forever.
I was ready to get to work.
~ DAVID ALADE
“When David and I first visited Atkinson street in 2014, we believed there was clear value on the street. We could see that the homes on Atkinson had a higher vacancy rate than Boston Edison, the occupied homes were more in need of external repairs and were slightly smaller with more duplexes than other historic neighborhoods in Detroit. However, we were undeterred because we believed the fundamentals of the area were strong. The location was close to a historic neighborhood and there was a highway providing quick access to Midtown and Downtown Detroit. We had confidence that the vibrancy of Boston Edison could spread to Atkinson because other neighborhoods adjacent to historic neighborhoods had captured the momentum from their more prominent neighbors. And we talked to the people that lived there and could see it was a street where families had lived next to each other for decades.
7 years later in 2022, Atkinson street is renowned throughout Detroit for its many assets and attractions. Many Detroit residents enjoy its beautiful, remodeled Gordon Park. Lots of homeowners on Atkinson have seen the funds invested by investors like us into formerly abandoned homes and fixed up and repaired their own homes. The dynamic nature of the street with its legacy homeowners intermingled with a younger, more diverse generation has created the opportunity for a commercial business like The Congregation to thrive and become a major and unique asset for our neighborhoods.”
~ ANDREW COLOM
“The North End captured our imagination when we first visited the neighborhood during the summer of 2014. We had read about the history of the famous jazz clubs where local singers would perform on their way to international stardom. We were aware of the pioneering urban farming innovation in the neighborhood led by Jerry Hebron. Majestic, beautiful homes lined its northern boundary across the Arden Park neighborhood. We recognized the potential of the catalytic commercial investment along John R. street led by Steven Harris and the buzz around the rehab development in the southern part of the neighborhood. We were ecstatic to roll up our sleeves, get involved, and get invested. And that we did. We have now developed over 25 units of housing in the North End. Our Co-Founder, David Alade, called the wonderful neighborhood home for two years.
Now the North End is on track to become a special part of Detroit’s revitalization. National arts organizations, building upon its rich artistic history, have commissioned stunning murals, led by local artists, that are spread throughout the neighborhood. The Black Food Security Network has picked this neighborhood for its own ground-breaking cooperative owned grocery store with an equity model centered around food sovereignty to address past injustices. There are several new construction mixed use developments under way in the area.
When we decide to invest in a neighborhood, we do so expecting to become part of its history. We believe in identifying neighborhoods that feature strong fundamentals and a rich culture and legacy. Going forward we are confident the North End neighborhood will continue its legacy of development and cultural innovation, leading Detroit boldly into a bright and more equitable future.”
~ DAVID ALADE