DealBook: Golaski Labs
By Evan Weiss and Bruce Katz
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The Nowak Metro Finance Lab created the Dealbook as a product to deeply analyze the capital stacks and incentives required to execute innovative urban development projects, with a goal of helping practitioners adopt and adapt national strategies for capitalizing projects with positive community impact. Know of a deal we should examine? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Golaski Labs is the first project in Accelerator for America’s and Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab OZ DealBook series, which takes deep dives into the nuts and bolts of the first— as well as the most illustrative and interesting— Opportunity Zone deals. Not all these deals will be pretty: some will be within the spirit of the law, achieving significant impact and genuinely benefiting the community, but others will not. With Golaski Labs, we can see how a great project, a great community, and a great team came together to make a long dreamed of project a reality— all while realizing impact and equity, significant community benefits, and meaningful financial return. Although Golaski Labs was well on its way before the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University’s Opportunity Zone Reporting Framework were published, the project meets the core standards of those guidelines. While Opportunity Zone capital made this deal happen (and happen faster), it didn’t make it possible—more important was an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), one of the nation’s most inventive economic development agencies that represents a true partnership between government and business. Golaski Labs’ Opportunity Zone equity didn’t come any cheaper either. But what it did do was create a new source of equity for the developer to tap into, jumpstarting a deal that could have taken much longer to get off the ground without it, and ensuring Mosaic could become the senior partner in the project. Capital that probably never would have made its way to a less than $8 million deal in an outer ring neighborhood in Philadelphia was able to find that deal, changing Golaski Labs from another transaction to a transformative project.
“Even at its height”, said John Golaski, the former owner of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania site that is set to become Mosaic Development Partners’ 40,000 square foot Golaski Labs mixed use project, “this was just a 9-5, Monday through Friday neighborhood. Everything was locked up on the weekends.” Today, and for the last thirty years, the Wayne Junction neighborhood has been one of the many across Philly that was hit hard by deindustrialization and racially-biased lending practices like red lining. In the past few years, the Northwest Philly neighborhood is just starting to see some momentum. Many people in the Philadelphia real estate industry told the Golaski’s they should tear down their father’s now vacant factory and build a big box store; it would just make the most financial sense to do it that way. But the dream of Mosaic’s Golaski Labs project, now finally underway, is to turn the Golaski’s former chemical factory in a formerly industrial neighborhood into one of the premier 24/7, 365 mixed-use green projects in Philadelphia, hosting amenities like a co-working space, a restaurant led by a celebrity chef, the first black-owned brewery in the city, advanced modular construction, and smart rooms with features like voice-controlled appliances. It is now one of the first Opportunity Zone projects in the United States.
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This DealBook was produced through the collaboration of Drexel's Nowak Metro Finance Lab and Accelerator for America.