Community Development Activities

Sat. Jul. 20, 2024
At Cherokee, Community Development is smart and green.

Cherokee is Your Community Development Partner

Renovating Properties versus Building New

Renovating existing properties, whether they are commercial or residential in nature, helps maintain the character the neighborhoods. A rehabilitation of an existing structure is much less disruptive to the community. It does not create new drainage and infrastructure requirements. Rehab is "green" in the sense that salvaging any property is the equivalent of recycling it. There is material (from a demolition) placed into landfills, and there is less demand for new construction materials. A rehab is often faster, and it usually does not require long regulatory approvals, because it is repairing what already exists (see Grandfather Laws on Repair of Existing Non-Conforming Uses).

We also encourage you to download Smart Codes in your Community: A Guide to Building Rehabilitation Codes , a PDF document which provides an overview of the general regulatory environment governing the use and reuse of existing buildings, and provides examples of state and local efforts to reduce regulatory complexity to help spur reinvestment in the existing building infrastructure.

Rejuvenating existing properties, as opposed to tearing them down and starting from scratch, is a win for the environment, a win for community character preservation, a win for the new occupants of the property because it can be more affordable, and a win for redevelopment timelines, because renovations are usually much faster than the demolish, approve, build cycle.

We offer resources specifically for those interested in Community Development here.

To learn more, and to discuss specific ways we can help, please contact Jay Wolfkind at (732) 741-2000, or send Jay an email using our Contact Us page.

We're NOT a "Real Estate" company, We're a Community Development company.

When people first encounter Cherokee, they think we're a traditional real estate investor. It's easy to see why:

Cherokee acquires dilapidated, distressed properties, and turns them into valuable real estate. At first glance we look like other real estate developers. But we're more, much more.

Cherokee's mission is to improve the quality of the communities and people we work with, financially and socially. We do this by identifying properties that are detrimental to the community, and transforming them into productive real estate.

Some agencies benefit society by providing assistance and services. We do it by providing a reliable supply of productive, desirable real estate, which is the "safe harbor" for most families, the basic building block of most neighborhoods, and the first step for most families on the economic ladder to the American Dream.

Cherokee improves communities, one property at a time.

Our becoming involved in distress "situations" leads to a resolution. There is usually a "controlling stakeholder" whose irresponsible actions, or inactions, created or facilitated the problems. However there are also many other stakeholders, who are innocent, and powerless to distance themselves from the distress, such as neighbors, lenders, family and business associates, etc. To learn how Cherokee rescues these innocent stakeholders, please download our information sheet entitled How Cherokee Rescues Innocent Stakeholders.

Current Trends

Proactive and progressive real estate investors have begun to initiate various "sustainability" and "community development" plans. For some firms, better utilization of resources may result from "responsible" investments. For others, the benefit is a competitive advantage. No one generic strategy will fit all firms.

Some developers chant the "community development" mantra in a reactive, defensive manner, often in response to legislative compliance.

Profit and community development are sometimes (incorrectly, in our view) considered enemies.

Our Approach

"Non-performing" assets are the "raw material" of Cherokee's work. These generally include REO (Real Estate Owned) foreclosure real estate and NPLs (Non-Performing Loans) held by financial institutions. Cherokee buys these Non-Performing Assets pre-foreclosure, or after title has been obtained. We buy on an all-cash, as-is basis. We specialize in distressed properties that are difficult to market due to impairments (physical, environmental, legal, or all three). To learn more about the kind of distressed assets that Cherokee restores, please see What We Buy.

We make a change in communities because we're willing to take risks, on properties, and on people. We're not there for a quick flip … we create and own productive properties for the long term.

We're looking for you to embrace us fully, because we need to work in concert with local government and neighbors in order to make an impact.

Yes, we make a profit. So do a lot of other organizations. How we make our money, is what distinguishes Cherokee from others.

There is no inherent conflict between socially responsible community development and being a for profit real estate investor developer. In fact we believe that the long term viability of our investments are enhanced as a result of our determination that our investment activities will improve the communities within which we own real estate and related financial assets.

Just as many companies have discovered that being "green" can be profitable, Cherokee has refined a distressed real estate business model that enables us to safely expand a profitable investment portfolio, at the same time we are promoting community development. By reinforcing the long term economic viability and intrinsic desirability of the neighborhoods within which we own and manage (commercial and residential) properties, we're protecting the long term value of our own portfolio, as well as helping our neighbors.

Better neighbors protect our own property values. Better quality housing attracts more stable families, including those who will improve their own properties, and therefore the community. It's contagious. The physical condition of neighborhoods has a serious impact on residents' quality of life, and on the perception of visitors to the community. This is one reason we believe that our property rehabilitation activities are as much a "community development" activity as they are economic.

When a neighborhood becomes more desirable, and attracts stable, responsible families, the value of virtually all the properties within that community are increased. Homes sell sooner, and for more money, apartments rent faster and for greater rents, and there is less turnover. Insurance and security costs decrease, and risk is reduced. So from a strictly parochial standpoint, it's in the best interests of a real estate investor like Cherokee to do whatever it can to help stabilize and improve the communities within which we have investments.

As individuals, we all want to do the right thing. As capitalist investors, we must earn a profit, if for no other reason than needing the resources to properly maintain and manage our properties, pay our mortgages, create jobs, compensate our associates fairly for their efforts, and continue to grow. At Cherokee we've learned how to harmoniously integrate our community development goals with robust profitability.

Even though companies accepted that there were potential commercial benefits to be gained from neighborhood revitalization, there was very little evidence to indicate that managerial decisions were motivated by strategic intent or that managerial mindsets were tuned to the notion that a proactive social response could offer a competitive edge.

With Cherokee, our core business model has always involved the acquisition and renovation of abandoned properties. It's nothing new to us, and not the "business model of the moment".

Does it make legal, ethical, or economic sense for companies to participate in neighborhood revitalization programs? It's a Question often debated, but seldom answered authoritatively: Do companies have a social responsibility to improve the communities within which they develop or own commercial and residential properties, beyond legal requirements?

In the case of public companies, what can (and should) they do so within the scope of their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders? Can they do so on a sustainable basis? Should firms sacrifice profits for positive social impacts? These are big Questions, and the answer is usually "it depends".

For Cherokee, the answers are clear. And we practice what we preach. We go out of our way to document our success, hoping we can encourage other investors to undertake socially-responsible community development projects, because they can earn a fair profit, and make America a better place in the process. Examples relative to economic and community development are on our Success Stories page and visit Renovating Board-Ups to see how eliminating abandoned properties has improved the neighborhoods.

Cherokee's real estate development activities create jobs, stabilize the tax base, and stabilize neighborhoods. All this, and we earn a profit as well! How good is that?

We rehabilitate residential and commercial properties.

These transformations: (a) return properties to the tax rolls, (b) improves the value and desirability of all properties in a neighborhood, (c) reduce crime, (d) eliminate eyesores, (e) create desirable, yet affordable housing, and (f) restore commercial properties to "job-creating" capacity.

And we do it at a profit.

Cherokee increases the quantity and quality of desirable, low-density housing.

Cherokee is a not a "hit and run" speculator. We don't "flip"" properties. We hold and prudently manage these properties as long term investments ... in the community, and in ourselves. We believe the value of our investments directly relates to our ability to provide sustainable enhancements to the community and life therein.

Cherokee is committed to utilizing our resources in a way that strengthens our communities. We're passionately engaged and actively involved in the community on many levels. This is the soul of our company.

We've been embracing this unique approach to regentrifying non-productive real estate throughout New Jersey for the past decade.

The most compelling validation of the power of this unique approach to renovation of non-performing loans, is the enthusiastic cooperation of the community leaders in the towns and cities we have served.

For more information

To see specific expressions of support from your peers, please see our Raves + References page.

We encourage you to contact us, to learn how Cherokee can help your organization, your neighborhood, or your community.

If you are an organization that owns or manages non-performing assets of any kind, including banks and servicing organizations, Cherokee can help you liquidate the assets … quickly, easily, and at a high return. Please see Benefits to Banks + Institutions Selling Assets to Cherokee

If you represent a municipality, Cherokee can help you redevelop your community in a manner that is non-intrusive, by utilizing tax liens and delinquent mortgages to acquire dilapidated properties, and restoring them to safe, attractive, productive use. Please see Municipalities Benefit when Cherokee acquires REO and NPL in their community .

To learn the advantages of renovating existing properties, as opposed to tearing them down and building new, please see Advantages of Renovations versus New Construction.

If you are associated with a public agency or non-profit organization interested in community development, we'd like to explore partnership opportunities. Cherokee has the resources necessary to identify parties associated with abandoned properties, acquire the necessary interests to get the property, and then restore it to safe, tax-paying, productive use in the community. See more at Community Development .