The Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund, SPC (LTCIF) has received final approval from California regulators to receive investment funds directly from California residents as it moves to become a community-owned and managed real estate fund.
Through a direct public offering (DPO), LTCIF can offer shares of stock directly to potential investors.
Proceeds will be used to purchase real estate in and around Little Tokyo, allowing community investors to have a say in what happens in the community and potentially benefit from LTCIF’s success.
A public meeting to announce the DPO and to provide the next steps for potential LTCIF Investors and supporters will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Union Church, 401 E. Third St. in Little Tokyo. A special session in Japanese will take place at 11 a.m., followed by a meeting for English speakers at 1 p.m. Parking is free.
LTCIF was launched by a group of Little Tokyo community advocates who were concerned about the increasing number of closures and relocations of heritage-based business in Little Tokyo largely due to gentrification.
To work towards preserving and protecting the historical legacy of Little Tokyo from the impact of gentrification, they formed a real-estate investment fund that would seek to purchase and manage properties for the purpose of supporting heritage-based businesses and properties in Little Tokyo.
On July 30, after careful review and negotiation, the commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight issued a permit for LTCIF to sell two classes of shares directly to California residents.
“The state process is complex due to the important consideration of protecting investors, but we have now passed that important milestone,” said Bill Watanabe, LTCIF’s chairman and president.
Attorney Brett Heeger, of the law firm Gartenberg Gelfand Hayton LLP, led LTCIF’s legal team through the months-long permit application process.
The LTCIF has held a round of public informational workshops to inform people of the intention to start a socially responsive real estate investment fund.
“This fund could assist mom-and-pop, and heritage businesses that have been operating in Little Tokyo for many years, and that are now vulnerable to the encroaching gentrification,” according to LTCIF interim board member Miya Iwataki. “Response to outreach meetings have been favorable, because many people share a desire to defend the unique cultural history of Little Tokyo.”
Steve Nagano, another member of the LTCIF Interim Board of Directors, said, “My wife Patty and I are longtime residents of Little Tokyo. In our 10 years of living at Teramachi, we have seen some of our favorite restaurants and mom-and-pops forced to close or relocate due to rent increases brought about by gentrification. Real estate in all of downtown Los Angeles continues to escalate rapidly. And therefore, we have to take action now!”
“It all comes down to who owns the land,” adds Watanabe. “The only way to combat this is to own the land and thereby control how rents can be mitigated and mom-and-pop businesses can be sustained. Little Tokyo Service Center has provided a model for how this can be done.”
Mark Masaoka, another LTCIF board member, explains, “People need to understand that we are not asking for donations, but that this is an investment into the community. If successful, we hope to deliver financial return on that investment in addition to having a social impact.”
An update on Little Tokyo and the mission, structure, and operation of the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund will be presented at the Aug. 24 meeting, with time for extensive question and answer.
Further details on the fund are available on the LTCIF website, www.littletokyocif.com.