Anthony Fullard, president of West Powelton Development Corporation, has dedicated his life to all things construction. He’s owned his own company for 10 years and before that, worked 30 years in the industry, starting out as a union ironworker.
“I started from the very bottom of the construction industry and then began to learn the industry,” the Germantown native said. “It’s all about following the money and margins of success is at the ownership level of the project.”
Fullard was the developer behind the Osage and Pine redevelopment project. It’s the site of the MOVE bombing that destroyed 61 homes. The city eventually rebuilt many of them but they were poorly built.
Despite his decades-long history of working in the industry, he acknowledges that he could still use some resources. Now, he is one of the Philadelphia entrepreneurs in The Collective, a Black-led capital network group that launched publicly last week. With a vision to “provide access to resources and capital that will elevate Philadelphia communities of color and generate wealth for neighborhoods victimized by systemic racism,” The Collective felt like the answer to a problem no organization or institution had been able to solve for him and his peers.
“It’s important for us to band together and bring our resources together,” Fullard said.
While developers in the newborn Collective represent all segments of the real estate industry, Fullard brings a focus on residential homes, usually single-family. He purposely shies away from housing that would be for more temporary residents, like student housing. He said his focus has always been Black families.
“It’s the largest investment that they will probably ever make in their life,” he said. “This family will be in this community for at least 20 years and will be a stakeholder because of this investment. That’s vital to me.”
Owning is power
Sandra Dungee Glenn, a founder of The Collective and a West Philadelphia native, said she’s doing this simply because “somebody has to.” She is one of three principal founders including Tayyib Smith of S&R Holdings and Steven Sanders of Beltraith Capital.
Like Fuller, her goal is ultimately about building property ownership among Black families in Philadelphia.
“We’re looking to ensure that the ownership of Black families and residents is much more significant than what it is now,” Glenn said.
Black homeownership in Philadelphia has dropped over the last 20 years, 47% compared to 55% in 2000, according to the Housing Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Over the same period, property values in many parts of Philadelphia have increased. In historically Black neighborhoods, such as Mantua and Cedar Park in West Philadelphia and Point Breeze and Graduate Hospital section of South Philadelphia, the jump in value has been significant.
That concerns Glenn, who wants that homeownership figure to be about two-thirds. In Glenn’s eyes, it all comes down to building wealth.
“I believe very strongly in the power of ownership,” she said. “When you are the owner, you are in control. Increasing ownership for businesses, country, [and] homes is very important to me.”
Caretha Jones is a Black Philadelphian that sees the value of The Collective’s mission. It was a lifelong goal for her to own a home and she was finally able to make that plunge last year after over a decade of living in a two-bedroom apartment in public housing.
In many ways, Jones’ story is a reflection of what The Collective represents.
“I’m the first of my grandmother’s grandchildren to have a home and it’s definitely independence,” she said.
She describes feeling a sense of pride that she has something completely on her own.
For Glenn, The Collective is about creating that economic independence based on support networks in communities that were divested from and stripped of opportunities for wealth building.
“I don’t have an uncle, a cousin, or a business relationship that has that kind of capital,” Glenn said. “And that’s the problem of many Black developers disproportionately that they don’t have those personal networks.”