Name: Joe Chancy
Company: Black Diamond Property Developers and a licensed real estate agent
City: South Florida – Broward County
Product Types: Retail stores, quick-serve restaurants
What did you do before you were a developer?
I came from the world of retail. I’ve been in real estate most of my young adult years. When I got into real estate, I was buying up properties, fixing them up, renting them out, and putting them back on the market, and then when we went through the Great Recession that was when I went into it full time.
What motivated you to make the leap into development?
I always had something in me that wanted to impact the community. I never before knew what that desire was, but every time I exposed a property to a family, that was honestly the best thing to me. Closing days were a big “yes!” to me. I loved that feeling, and it left me feeling like I wanted to do it on a bigger scale. So I asked myself how I could do that and impact the neighborhoods and communities around me.
In dealing with the day-to-day operation of your enterprise, what do you find to be the most difficult to accomplish?
I guess, at the end of the day, going out there and finding properties in the right price point. You know, being in south Florida some of the property owners aren’t realistic, but I’ve learned over the years that there’s always a way of getting around it and working with them if they truly want to work with you. Everything else is part of the process. City officials, municipalities, the property owners—those are all issues you can work on as long as you have a vision, unless it doesn’t fit with the neighborhood.
Where do you turn to get a fresh perspective or experienced insight on a prospective or existing deal?
I typically look to my colleagues in the business to get an idea what they think the market is doing, what I should be focusing on, what I shouldn’t be focusing on. I also like to go to community outreach meetings to see what the community is actually pushing for.
One time, one of my buddies in Miami knew of a food desert. There was an article in the paper right before a storm about a woman in a wheelchair who wanted to get to the grocery store. If she wanted to get to the nearest one, then she’d have to travel two miles. I decided to put something in that area, and so instead of her having to suffer the two miles in a wheelchair to get food, it was only a ten-minute ride on her electrical scooter. Stuff like that. Articles in the paper or community meetings give you fresh perspective on what opportunities to identify.
What does being a successful real estate developer mean to you?
It means making a difference for years to come.
In looking at the next one to two years, what do you see as the biggest challenges to your business and projects?
I don’t really see challenges. I see opportunities. Being able to serve the community, especially in my area that’s growing really fast, amid growing costs, being able to bring a product to line can take years, but I really see that as an opportunity more than a challenge.
What skills or traits do you think are most important to make the leap into real estate development?
It takes a creative and passionate lifestyle. What I mean by that is that you’re going to have your ups and your downs, but you need to be able to motivate yourself around people. Surround yourself with others who are going to motivate you on down days.
Every day I wake up, my kids ask me what deal I’m working on today. Whether I’m leaving early or coming home late, I remember that what I’m working on is leaving a legacy. Eventually that will be the difference. It’s not just projects. It’s the difference I’ve left in people’s lives. It all consists of what you do with your projects, and I want to have my signature on that.
What skill or trait did you lack at one point, and how did you overcome it?
Unfortunately, we only have 24 hours in a day, so I’ve learned to leverage people’s skill sets. I’m more of a global-scale thinking person. I’ve learned to work with people who have the patience to work on the intricate parts, and the ability to talk with certain people, and push the permitting process through. I could probably do it, but I’d be banging my head against the wall. There are other people around me who can’t do what I do because they aren’t as optimistic as I am. It’s that yin-and-yang effect that works hand-in-hand.
What was a memorable mistake?
Moving too fast. I tripped through the process. I still made the money, but it could have been a lot better.
How has your involvement with ULI played a role in your career or transitions?
Actually, ULI would be my actual reason for becoming a developer. I always wanted to join ULI, and it was at that very moment that I submitted my application that I officially called myself a real estate developer.
What’s your favorite city to visit and why?
My favorite city—I’m kind of biased—but it’s right here in Fort Lauderdale. There are cranes up—yes—but to the level that they’re incorporating public transit is amazing. The roads can’t get any bigger, so they’re building a new rail line that will go from Miami to Orlando. There’s going to be a local light rail incorporated. It’s going to give people a great place to live.
About Entrepreneur Profiles
Entrepreneur Profiles are conversations with real estate development professionals who, in most cases, have recently made the leap into the industry whether as young individuals fresh out of school or as mid-career transitions.
With a focus on small-scale developers often doing incremental and transformative work, these are quick and easy to read profiles to raise awareness of these professionals. By telling their stories, the Urban Land Institute hopes to inspire the next generation of small scale entrepreneurs to transform their own communities. See all of the Entrepreneur Profiles.