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New OZ Fund Will Bring Investment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities



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The opportunity zones (OZ) incentive is a community development tool that provides tax incentives to help unlock investor capital to fund businesses in underserved communities.

In the case of the Renaissance HBCU Opportunity Fund, the specific communities served are neighborhoods surrounding historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The fund is a partnership between the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition and community economic development advisory firm Renaissance Equity Partners, with Calvert Impact Capital providing professional advice. The fund is expected to raise $50 million. Robert K. Jenkins Jr., senior managing director of Renaissance Equity Partners, said there have been some tentative commitments from investors at press time.

“Almost half of the HBCUs across the country are located in OZs,” said Jenkins.

The fund will finance mixed-use developments on or near HBCUs. Potential developments include bringing grocery stores to food deserts and health care facilities to medically underserved communities, along with creating housing for various populations.

“Many of these schools are in very distressed neighborhoods,” said Ron Butler, CEO of the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition. “The fund will have a tremendous impact. This new capital will attract additional capital to bring in other needed developments.”

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D.C.-Area Business Leaders Launch $1B Affordable Housing Challenge



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Housing affordability has become an increasingly urgent concern in D.C., and a group of business leaders is challenging the region to invest $1B over the next two years to help solve the issue.  The Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington launched the Capital Region Housing Challenge, an effort to spur the D.C. region’s public and private sectors to each add $500M in affordable housing investments above their current baseline by the end of 2020.  Housing Leaders Group co-convenor David Bowers, also the market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, announced the challenge at Bisnow’s Metro D.C. Affordable Housing Summit Wednesday morning in a rousing call to action.  “The challenge is the call to work collectively, across sectors and geographic boundaries, to fundamentally move the baseline of thinking and investment and connect capital to solutions,” Bowers said. “Those of you that are already investing, we’re challenging you to do more.”

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Anacostia Homes

Cheers at the Big Chair closing | Business owners ask ‘is it a sign of what’s to come?’



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Punjab Grill opens in DC with mirrors, marble and modern menu



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Opening Punjab Grill was a decades-long dream for Karan Singh.

“Ever since I started coming to the U.S. and saw that Indian food wasn’t so well represented here, I’ve been wanting to do something to make Indian food more of a mainstream cuisine,” said Singh, co-owner of the Tysons Corner restaurant American Tandoor and CEO of Punjab Grill US, which has locations in India, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

And planning for that dream was no small feat. Unlike other restaurants that take about a year to build out their space and open their doors, Singh spent five years planning the design and development for Punjab Grill, located on 11th Street NW, just a few blocks from the White House.

Permits and construction are often to blame for opening delays, but Punjab Grill’s source of slowness had a lot to do with its aesthetics. Nearly everything in the 5,000-square-foot restaurant — from the marble floors, to the sandstone walls, to the 3-ton faceted ceiling — was built in India and shipped to the U.S.

“The floor that you’re standing on right here, it was cut and pieced together painstakingly then taken apart, numbered and sent to us. And we actually put it back together here like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Singh, who sent his American contractor to India to spend time with the artisans and builders to “coordinate everything down to the last screw.”

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