Urban Synergy in Action

Urban Synergy in Action OFFERING OPEN

A renovation project to support and incubate urban entrepreneurs in Bridgeport, CT.

About the Project

Urban entrepreneurs face a difficult challenge when financing both residential housing and commercial office space to meet the demands of their growing business. The rental fee for one’s personal residence coupled with the lease fee for commercial office space can be upwards of $3,000 per month combined. This expense can quickly become overwhelming while in the start-up stage. According to Forbes, 80% of entrepreneurs fail within the first eighteen months largely due to a lack of cash.

One popular alternative to this dilemma is coworking space. However, coworking space limits the amount of dedicated square footage as well as privacy. To counter the obstacles presented to developing urban entrepreneurs, 47-53 Crescent Ave LLC (the ”Company”) will offer affordable lease options to fuse the life of the urban entrepreneur – working and living all under one roof! Often referred to as live-work units by the industry, The USA Building (the “Project”) refers to these as ‘Entrepreneur Units’ and ‘Solopreneur Units. 

The Company is proposing to purchase and convert an historic two-story building to accomplish this. The funds raised through this offering, in conjunction with owner financing, will be used to purchase the building and to fund some pre-development expenses to complete the renovation. The Company intends to raise additional funds to fully complete the renovation within 30 days of purchase of the building, and to complete the renovations within a year. 

The 1930’s industrial building is located at 47-53 Crescent Avenue in Bridgeport, Connecticut, within the Historic East Side Neighborhood of Bridgeport, a designated Enterprise Zone, and less than one mile from interstate I-95 and Route 8. The Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority operates four bus routes in a three-block radius of the building, and the Metro-North train station is within a short walking distance.

The building contains approximately 18,200 square feet; 7,000 square feet on the first and second floors, and 4,200 on the basement level. The first floor will be converted into four ‘Entrepreneur Units.’ Each unit will provide a 500-square foot residential studio and a 1,000-square foot commercial office space. The site is currently zoned as Office/Retail which will allow for residential uses by special permit. The second floor will be occupied by the anchor tenant, VCL Consulting Group, Inc., along with four ‘Solopreneur Units,’ and two business event spaces. The basement level will serve as a storage area for Urban Synergy in Action, LLC (the ”Manager”).

Each of the proposed four Entrepreneur Units will consist of a 500 square foot residential studio plus a 1,000 square foot office space, to lease at a proposed rate of $1,700 per month, with a minimum three-year lease. Each of the four Solopreneur Units will be an approximately 64 square foot private furnished office space leasing at a proposed rate of $300 per month with a flexible lease period. The Solopreneur Units are expected to serve as feeder units for the Entrepreneur Units as they become available.

The business community at large will also benefit. Two business event spaces are planned, each consisting of approximately 1,000 square feet. These are expected to rent for $125 per hour.

Marketing efforts to attract initial tenants will include: 

  • in-person presentations at area community colleges, business groups, and nonprofit organizations that support small business development;
  • launching multiple social media campaigns with special emphasis on the LinkedIn community. Currently, VCL Consulting Group’s social media reach is in excess of 1,600 direct contacts;
  • Attracting tenants from existing coworking spaces in Bridgeport. Entrepreneurs who presently occupy coworking spaces, in most cases, have existing clients and are actively operating their businesses in a shared community workspace. Currently, there are five companies offering coworking spaces in Bridgeport for a daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly fee, but none of these spaces offer a residential component.

The Company intends to restore this south-facing building to a premier green restoration project while maintaining its historic charm. This will be achieved by utilizing a combination of energy-efficient and environmentally safe products including solar panels, triple-glazed/low e-rated windows, and other energy-efficient products and methods. The anticipated project timeline is as follows:

05 2019        Secure and purchase building

06 2019        Pre-development work begins

09 2019        Pre-development work ends

09 2019        Raise funds for renovation of building

12 2019        Restoration begins

14 2019        Restoration complete

05 2020        Tenants move in

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About the building
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About the Change

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About the Developer

Kim Bianca Williams is the principal of Urban Synergy in Action, LLC (the “Manager”), and the president & CEO of VCL Consulting Group, Inc. which currently leases space in the USA Building as its only tenant. Kim Bianca is a native New Yorker who relocated from Georgia where she lived for over twenty years. There she served as a community advocate and professional development consultant. In addition to the advocacy work done on her own, Kim Bianca worked collaboratively with several grassroots organizations to provide a wide array of services to underserved communities. These services included financial literacy training, personal and family management training, community policing and blight eradication. For her work, she was awarded the City of Savannah’s Mayor’s Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Service in Neighborhood Development. As a consultant, her clients included Georgia Center for Nonprofits, IKEA, and YWCA Women’s Leadership Institute. 

In 2011, Kim Bianca relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut where she resides in the East Side community. Continuing her passion for community development, she currently serves as President of the East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust, and Board Member of Bridgeport Regional Business Council.  Launching her Georgia-born consulting business in Connecticut, VCL Consulting Group, Inc., Kim Bianca was awarded the Dorothy Allsop Entrepreneur Award by the Greater Bridgeport Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. in 2018.  She has provided professional and organizational development services for clients such as International Institute of Connecticut, Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc., and Coller Capital. Additionally, Kim Bianca is an Adjunct Professor at Housatonic Community College (Humanities and Business Department), University of Bridgeport (Ernest C. Trefz School of Business) and Monroe College (School of Social Sciences)

Kim Bianca earned her undergraduate degree in Leadership and Administration, from Beulah Heights Bible College; her graduate degree in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement from Capella University; and is a Ph.D. student studying at Capella University in the School of Public Service Leadership with a specialization in Management of Nonprofit Agencies.
VCL Consulting Group, Inc. provides individual, team and organizational performance improvement training. On-site programming includes weekly lunch and learn sessions, four-part personal performance improvement sessions, and individual coaching for professional performance improvement. Off-site programming includes staff development training, staff retreats and, strategic planning sessions. Additionally, VCL Consulting Group, Inc. provides free community programming throughout the year.

Vincencia Adusei will act as project/construction manager for the USA Building. Vincencia was born in Ghana, West Africa and earned her Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. As the President of VASE Construction Services, a private construction management organization based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, she brings over 16 years of experience in the management, consulting, and development of housing and community development program experience.

VASE Management delivers construction management services throughout the entire state including construction services for affordable housing projects, academic buildings, municipal agencies, private sectors and more.  The company is a leader in the construction industry with a commitment to quality service, and dedicates itself to providing excellent construction management, consulting, and general contracting services.

Vincencia has been recognized by the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes, the Caribbean World Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield County Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Connecticut Against Violence, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: Southern Connecticut Chapter, The Workplace’s Southern Connecticut’s Regional Workforce Development Board, National Association for Women in Construction: Connecticut Chapter, Heroes’ Villages, and the Matt Jones Foundation, for her strong community relations, business support, and advocacy.    

Vincencia serves on the Board of Directors of Fairfield County Community Foundation, HCC Foundation Inc., and the Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises. She is a recipient of the Rising Star Award and has been recognized for her work and community contributions by numerous other local organizations.

Photo of Vincencia by Hearst Connecticut Media, Erik Trautmann, Photographer 

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About the Market

Based on a study by the State of Independence in American Workforce, there were 17.8 million entrepreneurs in the United States in 2015. According to the Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, as of 2015 there were 8 million minority-owned businesses in the United States, an increase of 38% since 2007. Consistent with this trend of increased entrepreneurship, Bridgeport experienced a 30% growth of minority-owned businesses from 1997 to 2012. As entrepreneurship continues to explode, innovative, flexible and affordable space options must be made available, particularly for urban entrepreneurs.

Most live-work units are associated with artists, as is the case in Bridgeport with Read's Art Space. However, across the country more and more live-work units are being filled by service professionals. One such example is Habersham Marketplace in Beaufort, South Carolina. This live-work design houses lofts above ground floor commercial spaces. In addition to traditional retail businesses, service professionals in industries such as consulting, real estate, construction, dentistry and life-care management are located on the ground floor commercial spaces.    

The overarching goal of the Company is to create a supportive environment for urban entrepreneurs to build their businesses, and stimulate growth in an economically distressed area. To accomplish this the ‘Entrepreneur Unit’ will have a proposed three-year lease period per unit. Through supportive services provided by the anchor tenant, VCL Consulting Group, Inc., and access to additional small business development resources, the ‘Entrepreneur Unit’ tenant will be positioned to expand his or her business by the end of the lease term, ideally purchasing an underutilized building in a similar community.

The ideal tenant for the ‘Entrepreneur Unit’ is an urban entrepreneur who provides professional services in fields such as health and wellness, social services, education, legal, financial, technology, or architecture. Additionally, the desirable tenant will have a social enterprise component embedded in their business model to strengthen the Urban Synergy community. This concept provides a significant advantage, not only for the community but for the entrepreneur and City of Bridgeport as well (see figure below).

Within the Greater Bridgeport area, there is only one direct competitor, Read’s ArtSpace which is located in downtown Bridgeport and provides 61 live-work units specifically for artists. There are five known indirect competitors who provide coworking space for entrepreneurs of all types. However, they do not include a residential component:

Competitor   Square feet    Monthly rent  Amenities
Read's Art Space 1,100    $318 - $780   Artist community, income-based
Bridgeport Trade & Technology Center  2,117 $1,200 Taxes, heat, insurance, building maintenance
Bridgeport Innovation Center 1,100 $1,100 Financing, fiber-optic internet, some utilities, 24-hour security guard service
305 Knowlton Varied  Starting at $225  Artist community, wi-fi, parking, utilities
B:Hive  Shared open space  $175 Wi-fi, workstations, kitchen, supplies, presentation equipment, conference room, mailbox
The Ctech Incubator Varied  Starting at $500  Supports tech businesses, fully furnished, shared support services, access to faculty & interns

The USA Building will have several advantages over our competitors. Most importantly, supportive business development services will be available to each tenant through the anchor tenant, VCL Consulting Group, Inc. Additionally, the units will be available to any service-type entrepreneur; not limited solely to artists.

  USA Building Read's Art Space Trade & Tech Innovation Center 305 Knowlton       B:Hive       The Ctech Incubator
Residential Units

Supportive Business services

Private furnished offices

Service professionals

Private commercial space

Parking

 

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About the neighborhood
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About the Offering

The Company is engaged in a Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) offering. We plan to use the proceeds of this offering, with a maximum goal of $50,000, together with owner-financing, to purchase and explore redevelopment of the building located at 47 - 53 Crescent Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut, into a mixed-use work-live facility. 

In an offering under Regulation CF the issuer is required to state a “Target Amount,” meaning the minimum amount the issuer will raise in the Regulation CF offering to complete the offering. Unless the Company raises at least the target amount of $20,000 by the target date of April 23, 2019, 11:59 pm, EST, no Securities will be sold in this offering, investment commitments will be cancelled, and committed funds will be returned.  

The minimum investment amount is $500, and investments above $500 may be made in $500 increments (e.g., $1,000 or $1,500, but not $1,136). Investors can cancel their commitment up until 11:59 pm on April 23, 2019. After that any funds raised will be released to the Company and Investors will become members of the Company. The Company may decide to change the offering deadline but will provide at least five days’ notice of such a change to all Investors. And Investors will also be notified and asked to reconfirm their commitment if any other material changes are made to this offering.

Each Investor will receive an annual preferred return of 8% on their investment, which will accumulate but not be compounded. In addition, equity will be returned to Investors upon refinancing along with a 100% bonus on equity invested. If, for example, an Investor was to invest $1,000, they would receive $2,000 back at refinancing. The Company plans to refinance the loans in 5 years’ time and anticipates that there will be sufficient cash flow to refinance the outstanding balances on the loan plus $100,000. (See “About Investor Return” for a description of the return of equity to Investors.)

The full disclosure documents, which include Form C can be downloaded here and viewed on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website here.

Please note that for this offering, no foreign investors will be accepted.

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Key deal points
  • Business incubator.  Business support services with work space opportunities for startups
  • High impact. Urban, under-served entrepreneurs targeted
  • Housing option. Entrepreneurs can graduate into a work-live space
  • Historic renovation. Repurpose and renovation of historic, largely vacant building
  • Diverse team. Minority and all female led development and construction team
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About the Finances

Total acquisition and development costs of approximately $912,012.93 will be financed through a variety of non-traditional financing sources.  

It is anticipated that Phase 1, in which the building will be purchased and some pre-development work completed, will be financed through a $155,000 loan from the current owner of the building and through the $50,000 raised in this offering. Phase 2, the renovation phase, is expected to be financed through a mix of federal and state historic tax credit equity and, a LISC loan specifically to support MakerSpaces.  

In the fifth year after the Project is stabilized, the Company expects to pay down the acquisition and construction loan with a permanent loan of approximately $675,000. Each Investor will receive an annual preferred return of 8% on their investment, which will accumulate but not be compounded. In addition, equity will be returned to Investors upon refinancing along with a 100% bonus on equity invested. If, for example, an Investor was to invest $1,000, they would receive $2,000 back at refinancing. The Company plans to refinance the loans in 5 years’ time and anticipates that there will be sufficient cash flow to refinance the outstanding balances on the loan plus $100,000. (See “About Investor Return” for a description of the return of equity to Investors.) For more detail about the operating budget, click here.  

The financing assumptions to purchase and develop the project are as follows:

ANTICIPATED SOURCES  
Small Change Offering 50,000.00
Owner Finance 155,000.00
Conneticut 25% historic tax incentive 123,046,88
Federal 20% historic tax incentive 98,437.50
DECD Conneticut loan/grant for job creation 50,000
LISC loan (MakerSpace) 435,528.55
TOTAL SOURCES 912,012.93
   
ANTICIPATED USES  
Building acquisition 175,000.00
Closing costs 1,750.00
Financing fees 12,387.93
Legal (incorporation etc.) 1,000.00
Renovation - floor 1 (7000) 525,000.00
Renovation - floor 2 131,250.00
Project management and architactural fees 65,625.00
TOTAL USES 912,012.93
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About Investor Return

Under the LLC Agreement, all distributions will be made in the following order of priority, after bank loans have been repaid:

  1. First, the Available Cash shall be distributed to the Investor Members until they have received their Preferred Return of 8% for the current year.
  2. Second, the balance of the Available Cash, if any, shall be distributed to the Investor Members until they have received any shortfall in the Preferred Return for any prior year.
  3. Third, upon refinancing or sale, the balance of the Available Cash, if any, shall be distributed to the Investor Members until they have received a full return of their Unreturned Investment.
  4. Fourth, the balance of the Available Cash, if any, shall be distributed to the Investor Members as an additional bonus until they have received an amount equal to their original investment.

The table below illustrates our estimate of how much an Investor would receive for a $1000 investment If repaid in 5 years.

ANTICIPATED INVESTMENT RETURN  
5 years of 8% return on $50,000 $20,000
Return of investment in year 5 $50,000
Bonus on investment made in year 5 $50,000
Total anticipated investment return $120,000
   
Anticipated return on $1,000 investment $2,400


Caution: This table is merely an illustration based on current assumptions and estimates as of the date of this offering and may change at any time based on market or other conditions and may not come to pass. All investments carry risk of loss and there is no assurance that an investment will provide a positive return. Many things could go wrong with this offering, including those listed in "About the Risks".

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About the Risks

A crowdfunding investment involves risk. You should not invest any funds in this offering unless you can afford to lose your entire investment. 

In making an investment decision, Investors must rely on their own examination of the Companies and the terms of this offering, including the merits and risks involved. These securities have not been recommended or approved by any federal or state securities commission or regulatory authority. Furthermore, these authorities have not passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this document. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does not pass upon the merits of any securities offered or the terms of this offering, nor does it pass upon the accuracy or completeness of any offering document or literature related to this offering. These securities are offered under an exemption from registration; however, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has not made an independent determination that these securities are exempt from registration.

There are numerous risks to consider when making an investment such as this one and financial projections are just that - projections. Returns are not guaranteed. Conditions that may affect your investment include unforeseen construction costs, changes in market conditions, and potential disasters that are not covered by insurance. You can download a more expansive list of potential risks here.

Unless otherwise noted the images on this page are used to convey the personality of the neighborhood in which the Project is planned.

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