PACDC Equitable Development Conference 2020
On July 29, our partner, PACDC, virtually hosted its annual Forward Equitable Development Conference which featured a session from PIDC titled Real Estate Strategies for Neighborhood Preservation. PIDC’s Director of Business Development, Art Gimenez, moderated a panel discussion with PIDC clients Rich Olaya, owner of Olaya Studio; and David Simms, owner of Eatible Delights Catering.
In this session, we addressed how providing commercial mortgages to small businesses and community development organizations will drive the growth and renewal of Philadelphia’s commercial corridors, build and preserve stronger neighborhoods, and expand access to economic growth and opportunity for a broader segment of our population — especially for people of color, women, and others with high barriers to accessing financing. Our clients joined us to explore the impact of PIDC’s Commercial Mortgage Loan and other PIDC loans as a prime example for real estate strategies for neighborhood preservation. The impacts of COVID-19 on their respective business was also a part of the discussion.
David Simms, owner of Eatible Delights Catering
Eatible Delights Catering is a black-owned full service off-premise caterer specializing in classic American cuisine with a modern flair. With the help of PIDC’s Commercial Mortgage Loan, David purchased a building at 1540 Wadsworth Avenue where the business relocated in November 2019. During the panel discussion, David admitted he was a tenant for 13 years and never thought about buying a building until he found out the building he was considering buying would be the same amount of money that he was paying for rent. Plus, David unfortunately faced multiple legal challenges with his landlords over the building maintenance at his previous Ridge Avenue facility. After consulting with his accountant, he decided to begin the process of buying a new building. “I went to a few lenders and I landed at PIDC, and I’m very happy to have made that transition from Ridge Avenue to Wadsworth Avenue,” said David. His biggest advice to business owners is to “make sure you get a good inspector before you buy.”
In regards to the benefits of buying, David said, “Rental situations are ok, but learning what I’ve learned from the person who rented this building, when you’re a tenant, you don’t really have the same care and capacity of what the owner does.” When you own the building your business is in, and prices are rising due to gentrification, you have equity and a stake in the neighborhood and are less likely to be displaced,” said David. “There is equity in me, my brand, my credit, [and] my business.” David shared that, for the long run, he wants to improve his community as a business owner.
David also shared that, like many businesses, COVID-19 had an impact on Eatible Delights Catering as many of his customers cancelled catering orders at the start of the pandemic due to canceled events. However, David has been able to keep his business afloat since he prepared his business operations early for unexpected challenges. David also found it helpful to regularly attend PIDC’s free Business Builder Workshops and our PIDC/Clarifi Bootcamp — a financial coaching and credit counseling program for entrepreneurs. “If I knew what I know now months ago, would I change being a business owner? Absolutely not! Business owners don’t need COVID-19 to pivot. As a business owner who loves what they do, I don’t need COVID-19 to figure it out. I like to create fail-safes. In these COVID times, yes, it’s challenging. I’m looking at this as I’ve been taught to prosper. [I’m thinking about] not only how to survive, but how can I thrive?” Eatible Delights Catering currently provides pick up and catering for clients all over the region as well as curbside restaurant service.
Rich Olaya, owner of Olaya Studio
Olaya Studios is an immigrant-owned architectural design studio now in its 14th year in business. PIDC’s Capital Project Loan helped Rich acquire and renovate property for an architectural studio. “The building was abandoned. It sat dormant for 28 years. The building was on the verge of collapse. I was happy to bring it back to life, and inject our piece of design into it,” said Rich. He expressed that owning and rehabbing his building has become a major showcase for his business, their design aesthetic, and skill of the firm. Rich also says that, as an owner, it is beneficial that he can sublease space to bring in revenue as well.
Rich shared that every project came to a halt in March due to COVID-19. Tremendous uncertainty hit his design & architecture firm hard. “When you see a project and you see the cranes, those designs were done a year ago,” said Rich. “When a developer has an issue, they’re going to tell us to stop. We’re one of the first ones being affected by that. We feel like the ability to have PIDC as a partner has actually helped us. The ability to have a forbearance certainly helped us. I think it’s fortunate that we are where we are to be able to adjust as we get to the next phase.”