Places all over the country are experiencing rapid gentrification. Once this dynamic takes hold and picks up speed it is very hard to reverse.
New London, CT is a small shoreline city halfway between Boston and NY currently on track to follow this trajectory.
It has soft market with speculation beginning to pick up. Property is incredibly cheap for the shoreline (median home price is $158,000) and developers are buying hoping to capitalize on the coming national museum for the Coast Guard and massive hiring by Electric Boat over the next few years. It’s a transportation hub with 4 higher educational institutions and great quality of life.
The potential for gentrification is a perfect storm. Now is the time to get in front of unhealthy economic development outcomes with a plan to create opportunity for local residents to be the drivers and beneficiaries of revitalization.
RD86 is a year into operations as a business development group with a goal of fostering regeneration instead of gentrification. We have started with foodservice and hospitality operations designed to make the place more vibrant while making money to underwrite impact. These operations create a pathway to equity ownership for the people we employ and local residents who can invest through recent innovations in crowd funding. Read our most up-to-date strategic plan here.
Our first project is a pop-up restaurant and event space in the center of downtown that we call RD86 Space. In year one we grossed over $300,000 and currently employ ten people. Check out the 5 star reviews on yelp and a sampling of feedback cards. Next year we forecast revenues of at least $750,000.
This landing page is an ask to support the restaurant operation to secure it with working capital.
We believe that the key to regeneration instead of gentrification is centering impact-based operations around developing people into strong leaders. We have an applied learning model that complements employment with education in business management, personal/professional development, and one-on-one coaching. We are also part of and connected to the emerging next generation of leaders in southeastern CT and have plans to support their/our development into the leaders needed to respond to climate change and a shifting economy.
We also know that to get in front of gentrification we need to make plays in the real estate market to safeguard and maintain a healthy mix of land use for affordable housing, green space, and community space. In addition to aspirations to acquire, responsibly develop, and hold real estate for our projects we have been part of starting the New London Community Land Trust.
New London is rich in beautiful old buildings that are falling apart. We take on projects that are brick and mortar businesses to add tangible value by transforming neglected eyesores into vibrant spaces. We have our eyes on specific properties directly adjacent to RD86 Space to activate the Green & Golden St. corridor with food, art, and music.
One of the reasons why we have chosen this fundraising route is because we are looking for values-aligned financial partners. We are passionate about people, community, climate change, and genuine transformation that follows the arc of justice.
It has been difficult to get the seed capital we need to bridge through to profitability. We are going into the slowest period of the year and need investment or loans to get us through. Local banks will not lend to us because we have not been in operation for a year. Foundations won’t fund us because we are not a nonprofit. There is no angel network in southeastern CT, this state with a motto of “land of steady habits.” And, many of the local people here with discretionary wealth do not have a problem with gentrification - they think this outcome would be great.
We have the human, social, and built capital to make this happen. We just lack financial capital.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 to provide working capital over the winter and funds to make additional capital improvements to our building (HVAC, awning structure for outdoor patio space, classroom and media lab on 2nd floor) so that we can be ready when the busy summer season resumes.
We are working with our legal team to structure equity investment opportunities in $5,000 increments for shares in the restaurant business. Until this paperwork is in place we are taking on loans that we will convert into equity using this promissory note.