Philly real estate developers receive multi-million dollar investment from 76ers' Josh Harris

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "From a real estate perspective, we realized when we attended meetings, conferences, consortiums, we just didn't see people that look like us," said Leslie Smallwood-Lewis. "Our community was really missing out and that's why it was almost a call to action for us to go out and start Mosaic."

Smallwood-Lewis and her business partner, Gregory Reaves, founded Mosaic Development Partners in 2008. It has since created over 200 construction jobs and developed over $120 million in real estate projects.

"We go into neighborhoods that most people are afraid to go into," said Reaves. "But we know the elements of the community are good, the people are good, and they need investment."

Starting with limited capital, Mosaic relied on the Reinvestment Fund and PIDC to provide the initial dollars for their projects. They team targeted food deserts, replacing vacant lots and buildings with facilities such as grocery stores and affordable housing units. Their hope is that investors follow their lead and contribute to the construction of services where they are most needed.

Fortunately, their latest investor was right around the corner.

Josh Harris, Managing Partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Co-Founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, has invested $10 million into Mosaic's initiatives. The funding will be used to increase participation in minority-owned and women-owned businesses, create mentorship opportunities, and drive up capital in communities of color.

In addition, the partnership pledges an investment into the $2.6 billion development at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which is expected to be completed in the year 2036.

Harris' contribution was inspired by the work he witnessed taking place at the Sharswood Ridge redevelopment at the intersection of Jefferson and Ridge Streets in North Philadelphia. The project was conceived by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, whose new headquarters are located across the street. They tapped Mosaic to act as the project's developer.

"This shopping center is something that the community has been asking for and needing for years," said Smallwood-Lewis. "It's anchored by a supermarket. We also have Santander Bank, we have an Urgent Care, we've got restaurants, and then we have the 98 residential units."

Several of those units will be priced with the area median income of the community in mind. This is designed to extend an invitation to those already living in the neighborhood instead of pushing them away.

The complex is also expected to include a senior care facility. The estimated time of completion is around September or October of 2022.

For Smallwood-Lewis, it represents another huge step in the greater goal to reach the potential of the city where she was born and raised.

"You know, my heart is here," she said. "And we think if we have like-minded people like ourselves and the support of local government and key stakeholders, there's a lot of good work that can be done in Philadelphia."

To learn more about Mosaic Development Partners, visit their website.

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