ST PETERSBURG—St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Rev Clarence Williams, Pastor of Greater Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, and other elected officials and community stakeholders will celebrate the launch of the city’s first Venture House as they swing the first demolition hammers, marking the beginning of the renovations of the flagship house on Wednesday, May 18th. Tours will begin at 11am; the ceremony will start at 11:45am. Additional tours and interview opportunities will be available afterwards. The whole community is invited to take part.
“The strategy of Venture House is to take boarded vacant houses, those in foreclosure and other problem properties, one small cluster of 5-10 houses at a time within a target neighborhood in need of fresh energy,” said Frank Wells, creator of the Venture House project. “Then, we’ll rehab [the houses], including a big sweat equity contribution, to provide affordably-priced housing for local entrepreneurs and artists who will commit to live there and create jobs and uplift the culture in our City and be involved in their community.”
Venture House, a program of Bright Community Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community land trust, is designed to retain and attract entrepreneurs and artists by providing affordable housing, in neighborhoods needing revitalization, specifically in the City’s South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), in exchange for a commitment to creating local jobs and impacting the community.
“The Venture House project will be transformative for neighborhoods, housing, and jobs in our community, and it positions St Pete as a national leader in innovative solutions to these problems that cities throughout the country face,” said Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Councilmember, City of St Pete
Venture House serves as a conduit to align the interests of the City of St Petersburg to create jobs in the City and to revitalize a neighborhood that has twice the poverty, unemployment and foreclosure rates of anywhere else in the City.
“Frank Wells understands the importance of being a stakeholder in the community in which he serves,” said Rev. Clarence Williams, pastor of Greater Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal church. “He is not just an investor but a part of the community.”
The next event scheduled for Venture House is a Community Open House, where Venture House volunteers and all of its neighbors and community supporters are invited to come out and celebrate this important first step, tour the first Venture House, and find out how to get involved. Venture House will host a free cookout with lunch and refreshments and local live entertainment. The Community Open House is Saturday, May 21, 11am-3pm.
“Venture Houses are designed to be a positive addition to and a seamless part of the community, so it is very important to us to be great neighbors, welcoming and receptive to the needs of the community,” said Wells.
While this may be the launch of the first Venture House, planning for the project has spanned the better part of an ambitiously successful year. Overall, it has been met with enthusiasm, support and curiosity, being the recipient of national attention while being highlighted in Fast Company magazine: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3037288/this-man-is-buying-up-a-florida-neighborhood-to-bring-in-entrepreneurs-and-artists .
For more information on Venture House, please visit: http://venture-house.org/