Brownsville Land Deal

That is what Diversity Program Advisors’s purchase of the dilapidated Brownsville Middle School is. George Hawthorne, founder of DPA, has exciting plans for the property, which will work if he convinces other agencies and non-profits to lease space or buy some of the buildings. However, at its core, this is a land deal and Hawthorne should be commended for trying to put it together. It’s really brilliant.

1. DPA buys the school property “as is” for $1 million. DPA doesn’t have a $1 million, but will bring in investors that will put up the money or guarantee a bridge loan. Superintendent Malcolm Thomas gets the money he has wanted and doesn’t have to worry about busted water pipes or any warranties. There is nothing in the contract that requires DPA to build the proposed one-stop facility. Whatever happens to the property, the School Board has no responsibility or liability. On the surface, they can claim they sold to a group on the same level as Friendship Missionary Baptist…or at least it will help the Brownsville community in a similar manner. They can do a Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of whatever happens next.

2. DPA sells 10 acres to Habitat for Humanity and recovers most or all of the $10 million. maybe makes a profit. No one has polled the neighborhood on whether they want a HFH subdivision, but there is a need for housing and HFH has grant it must spend by 2012. Investors get their money back, bridge loan gets paid and maybe some of the investors stay in DPA.

3. DPA now has a the rest of the land and all the buildings with now debt or costs. Anything done with the remaining land is pure profit. If no agencies want to be part of the one-stop facility. DPA and its investors are free to sell to whoever they want. The new owner is obligated to serve the public good, only meet zoning requirements.

4. If DPA succeeds in getting buy-in from government agencies and scores a few grants, DPA builds or renovates to suit the tenants and charges rent, creating a nice revenue stream.

There is nothing illegal here. DPA is for-profit and this is a for-profit venture. The one-stop facility isn’t guaranteed and doesn’t have to happen for this deal to be profitable for DPA, especially if Habitat buys the 10 acres.

The Brownsville community needs to decide does it want a the HFH subdivision and the one-stop facility. The other non-profits and government agencies have to decide is the one-stop facility something that they want.