Brooklyn doesn’t need your ass…

12 x 22 garage converted into a serviceable studio cottage. The Cotton District. Starkville, MS

“Find a place that you love that needs you.

(You may love Brooklyn, but Brooklyn doesn’t need your ass. Go somewhere that does.)”

-Ryan Terry

Ryan Terry‘s statement has two parts and you might stop at the evocative  opening; “Find a place you love…” The second half is just as critical “–that needs you”. Places that need you will need a lot of work. That is why they need someone like you that is willing to do a lot of frustrating and unappreciated work (because you care about the place and the people in the place. Swell places with high barriers to entry don’t need you.

If rents are low, you may need to limit yourself to picking up trash and doing careful serviceable rehabs like the cottage shown above.  Don’t forget that the project is the neighborhood not just the building.  That little garage has been rented since Dan Camp renovated it 30 years ago as part of his effort to transform a part of town nobody cared about.  

Be disciplined in what you are willing to spend in total project costs.  If rents are low or high, you still need to limit your project costs to what can be supported with the likely rents.

Do not expect to be welcomed or appreciated. Keep your head down. Under-promise and over-deliver. If you are a developer it will be hard to build trust in a place where people doubt or casually mischaracterize your motivation and methods. Do the work anyway. Any recognition or support you see from your neighbors along the way is a bonus. Take the long view and outlast critics who don’t have anything resembling a genius plan of their own. Be smart. Run the numbers on multiple projects before you launch. Start small. Find and support local champions and colleagues. Few resources are as important as Stubborn Hustle in a person hungry to learn their craft.

If you are passing through Bryan, Texas, look up Ryan Terry and have him show you his project on the edge of the downtown.  He is walking the talk.