Really? A New York City Real Estate Cooperative?

The Toren luxury condos in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: jqpubliq/Flickr Creative Commons

With rents rising in every direction and high-rise condos being built on a seemingly endless basis, one wouldn’t necessarily look to crowdfunding as a way to ameliorate the real estate market’s growing expensiveness. But if you look at the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative–an organization dedicated to preserving the city’s cultural and retail businesses that might not have a fighting chance against the growing tide of rent increases–you might want to think again.

The terms “real estate investment” and “cooperative” are an unlikely match–one signifies an economic category that’s been driving the cost of living up in Brooklyn for over a decade, while the other represents institutions that have a hard time surviving amid surging rents. But the REIC aims to blur the lines between these two concepts, and to use crowdfunding models to ensure “that community-serving spaces, both retail and cultural, remain affordable in perpetuity.”

Here’s how their business model works, according to their website:

We want NYC to become a national model for civic crowdfunding and affordable commercial space. NYC REIC fuses patient crowdfunding (crowd equity) with political will, supporting municipal and private transfers of commercial property to support permanently affordable workspaces for a local NYC. We are an early-phase, unincorporated association with over 200 members, and we are looking to be incubated by an existing organization with expertise in real estate finance, urban planning, and/or economic justice.

Still a small organization of about three hundred members, the REIC hopes to “inject capital into projects that turn vacant municipal properties into sustainable community resources and work with private owners to stabilize the existing businesses and community spaces we love.” The REIC is off to a good start, as it’s already partnered with Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, Spaceworks, and a variety of other community organizations

Check out this informational video below and feel free to sign up for the organization here.

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