The New Crowdfunding: Where the Neighborhood Owns Local Businesses

This social enterprise is making commercial real estate ownership a reality for local residents in Chicago and Baltimore.

A shopping plaza in Chicago

(Photo courtesy Chicago TREND)

For a long time, the only people who could invest in commercial real estate were those with deep pockets. But with securities law changes that went into effect in 2016, access to these types of investments and developments has widened. 

The Chicago TREND Corporation (TREND), a social enterprise funded by prestigious impact investors to catalyze urban retail and commercial corridor development, was founded around the same time as the changes in securities law and it’s become a big beneficiary of them. TREND has helped numerous community-based investors become property owners. 

Next City’s Oscar Perry Abello reports about the scale of these investments: “For its two Baltimore properties, Chicago TREND used the online platform SmallChange.co to raise a combined $780,000 from 33o investors who primarily live near or have some strong connection to either shopping plaza in predominantly-Black West Baltimore — an average of $2,363 per investor.”

In this episode, we also hear from Lyneir Richardson, CEO of TREND, which at the time of reporting had raised and deployed over $25 million of capital, owned four shopping centers, and assisted numerous Black retail operators and community real estate developers in cities across the country. 

To learn more about Chicago TREND, how it works with community investors and its goals for the future, listen to this episode below or subscribe to the Next City podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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