Memphis teens buy local apartment building

Published on: November 16, 2017

Meagan Nichols, Memphis Business Journal

“Becoming an owner changes the way you see yourself and your value to the world. You are not a victim anymore; you are a participant in change.”

That is what Cedric Bobo, co-founder of Project Destined, told the Memphis Business Journal in June when he brought his nonprofit that teaches minority teenagers how to be real estate investors, to the Bluff City. Fast forward to today: the group just closed on its first local property.

An investment banker by trade, Bobo — now a D.C. resident — grew up in Whitehaven. He and his Project Destined co-founder Fred Greene launched the program in Detroit in 2016, followed by Memphis in 2017. In early November, the nonprofit’s leaders — in partnership with Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez— added Miami to the Project Destined list.

The name of the program stems from the 2016 movie "Destined," and it is designed as a multiday event in which students learn real estate and investment fundamentals directly from industry experts. After a few days of instruction and networking, the students make bids on actual properties in their given cities.

If and when offers are accepted, Bobo and Greene purchase the building. They prefer to buy buildings with existing tenants, and profits generated from those buildings are then placed in a 501(c)3 where money is evenly distributed — typically on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis — to the teens who put the deal together.

The Memphis property purchased Oct. 12 by the project is located at 233 N. Bellevue Blvd. and cost $142,500, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds. The Shelby County Assessor of Property website lists it as a nearly 6,200-square-foot apartment building constructed in 1961. M&M Enterprises will manage the building.

According to a release highlighting the acquisition, Project Destined worked with Memphis-based Financial Federal Bank on the purchase of the eight-unit apartment complex. The bank “financed 50 percent of the acquisition debt at a nonrecourse with all fees waived.”

The remaining balance was funded by equity from Bobo and Greene, and a Project Destined Founders Fund was also established. Investors who take part in the Founders Fund “will see a preferred return, half of which will be directly donated back to Project Destined for future student scholarships.”

Project Destined is now working to schedule another four-week program in Memphis next February.

“What we try to do [is], within two days, we give you the basic building blocks to understand real estate,” Bobo told MBJ in June. “But, what we really do is give you these things so you can now try and go apply outside of that classroom.”