When Anthony Ivy suffered recurring injuries while trying to make the big time as a cornerback with the National Football League, he knew he had to come up with an alternative plan for career success.
A football player with the University of Tennessee at Martin and then with the Canadian and Arena football leagues until injuries sidelined him, the 31-year-old resident of Chicago’s Garfield Park tried working in a factory, making sales calls and becoming a commodities trader before settling on the idea of doing good as a real estate developer.
“My grades weren’t great because I’d put all my eggs in one basket in college, which was football. Roosevelt’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate gave me a chance, and I’ll be forever grateful,” said Ivy, who receives a Master’s of Science in Real Estate from Roosevelt on May 5.
Entering Roosevelt’s real estate program on probation in 2015, Ivy worked hard to keep his grades up, and took what he had learned to start a real estate company, African Community Builders, LLC, which has a goal of uplifting low-income communities through redevelopment.
“There are not a lot of companies out there willing to invest in dilapidated properties that won’t easily turn a profit,” said Ivy. “My idea is to engage members of low-income communities in investing in these properties and in turning around their communities.”
Ivy was the recipient of a Northern Builders Scholarship, supported by Jim and Brenda Grusecki, who also provided the Roosevelt student with mentors. With the help of University of Chicago’s Institute of Justice and Chicago’s Winston & Strawn law firm, Ivy also is in the process of setting up his company to take investments from community members using a crowdfunding platform.
Enlisting help from Yves Lafontant, who also graduates this month from Roosevelt’s real estate program, and Immanuel Howell-Bey, a Roosevelt MBA student with a concentration in marketing, Ivy is beginning to look for properties in low-income areas that have potential for community redevelopment.
“We’re going to go out and involve people at block clubs, CAPS meetings, neighborhood association gatherings and will be using phone apps like 'Next Door' and 'EveryBlock,'” said Howell-Bey. “Something has to change in areas that are rundown on the city’s south side, and it has to start with people in communities who are willing to step up and get involved with redevelopment.”
Ivy, who will be leading the charge as president of African Community Builders, also plans to continue as a Roosevelt student in the new Master of Arts in Community Development and Action program that begins in the fall.
“I’m interested in linking community development with real estate and crowdfunding. I’m in love with the idea of turning around communities just as much as I once loved football,” said Ivy.
His new company already is beginning revitalization on properties in south suburban Riverdale, Ill. and in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood, using conventional investment methods. He believes it will take at least a year to position the new company with enough successfully redeveloped properties and potential investment opportunities before crowdfunding is introduced as an investment tool.
“We are proud that Anthony is incorporating social justice work, which is at the core of a Roosevelt education, into his plans for his own real estate development company. This is just one of the many ways that our real estate graduates are excelling,” said Jon DeVries, director of Roosevelt’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate.