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DL3 Realty: Realizing Returns and Revitalizing Communities Through Venture Development


Leon I. Walker, managing principal of the real-estate development firm DL3 Realty, purchased a former Target store in Chatham, an underserved, predominantly Black neighborhood on Chicago's South Side in March 2019. DL3's development strategy, which Walker called "venture development," sat at the intersection of entrepreneurial and mission-based investing. The firm targeted properties in neighborhoods that rarely attracted unsubsidized private equity capital--places where others saw poverty, blight, and risk, but where Walker saw great opportunity. He hoped to reposition the vacant Target as a grocery-anchored retail center, as he had done in other successful development projects on the South Side.

By the summer of 2020, however--in the midst of the COVID pandemic and civil unrest sparked by the murder of a Black man by Minneapolis police--three potential retailers had gotten cold feet and reneged on their letters of intent to lease space in the Chatham property.

Walker was anxious to get the property leased--not only for his investors and to help stave off a rapidly declining economic environment in Chatham but also because he realized that one failed development had the potential to derail corporate and private investor interest in his venture development revitalization strategy.




William Towns

Date Published



Towns, William. DL3 Realty: Realizing Returns and Revitalizing Communities Through Venture Development. Case 5-421-754.


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