As the Buccini Pollin Group prepares to build more housing in Wilmington on the former Humble Park, I’ve overheard more than once that the city is living up to its reputation as a “one developer town.”
There’s another Wilmington housing development breaking ground in Hedgeville and challenging that: Truth in Action Holdings, led by CEO Donald J. Thompson III, is rebuilding on the vacant lot where the Jackson Street Boys and Girls Club once stood.
Heart of Hedgeville will be a row of six new four-bedroom homes, all claimed and under contract, each with a garage and front and back yards. The $299,000 starting price for the homes puts it above the range of what the FHA classifies as affordable housing, but they’re not out of reach for middle-class families.
Not that Thompson, who grew up in the neighborhood and spent much of his childhood at the Jackson Street Boys and Girls Club, doesn’t want to build affordable housing. It’s just more complicated, requiring government subsidization, something Thompson has not been able to secure, at least not yet.
Getting shut out when trying to get ahead was something Thompson had long experienced. He knew he was interested in real estate even as a kid, but his life got off track, and getting back on was a challenge.
He landed a government job and thought for a while he might move up to a high-ranking position, but it wasn’t happening.
“I was very ambitious, but there’s only so high you’re going to climb when you look like I look,” Thompson told Technical.ly. “And that door slamming in my face wasn’t subtle. So I decided to do something else.”
One day after deciding to pivot to real estate and development, frustrated by the challenges of getting subsidies and high market prices, he drove by the vacant Boys and Girls Club. This time, he decided to go see the then-owners of the lot, who knew him from the neighborhood. They worked out a deal below market prices, allowing Thompson to build the middle-income housing and make a profit, he said, while adding value to the neighborhood.
“It adds equity into the surrounding homes,” Thompson said. “In that way, we enrich the people in the neighborhood.”
The new project also honored the Boys and Girls Club during its groundbreaking ceremony, complete with the presentation of a plaque that will be installed at the site when it’s finished.
With this project underway, Thompson said he’s always looking for more spaces to develop.
“I’m not looking to buy homes to live in, I’m buying to sell to people for a reasonable or affordable price,” he said. “We’re definitely looking to continue our development aspirations and stay in the game.”
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