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Adrian Wells-Lucas rallies investors for affordable home rehabs in Gary – Crain’s Chicago Business

“This city suffers from a broken heart,” says Wells-Lucas, 53, who grew up in the lakefront Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary and now lives in Atlanta. “I want to be part of fixing it.” 

Game Changers is hardly the …….

“This city suffers from a broken heart,” says Wells-Lucas, 53, who grew up in the lakefront Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary and now lives in Atlanta. “I want to be part of fixing it.” 

Game Changers is hardly the first or only effort to revive the onetime steel boomtown now rife with vacant downtown blocks and crumbling landmarks, a city with a rapidly declining population and per capita income of $19,100, about 28% of the national figure. The difference is that Game Changers is relying on small individual investments, about $80,000 at a time, to improve the city’s housing stock. 

If Wells-Lucas accomplishes all she hopes, she’ll have harnessed house flipping, a fun and often profitable mainstay of reality television, as a tool for turning Gary’s dilapidated housing into affordable homes for people of modest means. It may show that a depressed city can attract capital for rehabs from outside its borders, and set the stage for similar projects in other troubled industrial towns. 

Her plan entails getting small investors to buy eyesore homes, generally from absentee owners, and finance upgrades. In the past 18 months, Wells-Lucas and 8 investor groups have bought 17 homes, for under $50,000 per house. The investors in each house also fund its rehab; each home is separately funded. Wells-Lucas says the average cost of purchase and rehab is in the $80,000s. 

The rehabbed houses go on the market in the $120,000s and $130,000s, a price range that should bring a monthly mortgage payment of less than $950, appealing to households that typically pay over $1,100 for rent. When houses sell, the investors who funded purchase and rehab are required to give 1% of the sale price to an approved community-improvement nonprofit in Gary.  

That last part, Wells-Lucas says, shows that her group “wants to make money, but we want to do good in Gary.”   

On April 6, the first rehabbed house, a three-bedroom 1950s ranch on Montana Street, sold for $132,000, 13 months after Gary Game Changers bought it for $29,000. A second sale is expected to close by the end of April. 

If Game Changers can improve and sell all 17, “they change the narrative, breathe some hope into the city,” says Anthony Mayo, pastor of Gary’s River of Life Church.   

While Wells-Lucas has support from government officials, homeowner groups and others, she has also faced hard slaps. In the course of a month, one of the homes was burglarized, its copper pipes and wall art hauled away before police responded to the alarm, and somebody got inside another and set a fire that caused extensive damage. 

“I knew what Gary was like when I took on this challenge,” Wells-Lucas says. “You’re not going to have any victories without losses.” Also potentially …….

Source: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/residential-real-estate/adrian-wells-lucas-rallies-investors-affordable-home-rehabs-gary

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