Our Work on The Ground | Neighborhood Allies Builds Relationships Through Real Estate

Dec 1, 2021

Recently, we provided technical assistance and supporting funds to Ms. T’s Restaurant and The Galaxy Lounge to supplement a $36,500 forgivable façade loan from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The funding and time spent has resulted in refreshed storefronts for both Homewood businesses!

At Neighborhood Allies, we promise to create pathways of opportunity that lead to healthy neighborhoods. We know that the first step to carrying out that promise is building trust. That’s why, in all of our work, we collaborate with existing community leaders, organizations, and small businesses to ensure that they are not only heard, but actually benefit from present and future investment in their communities. By deepening these partnerships, with small business owners in particular, we are supporting them in securing a permanent place in their neighborhood as a thriving and successful community staple.

When the owners of Ms. T’s Restaurant and The Galaxy Lounge sought out a forgivable loan from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to improve their joint building’s outer appearance, Demi Kolke, our Senior Program Manager for Corridor Revitalization, jumped in to help the small businesses apply and prepare for the opportunity.

Demi serves as an important and trusted point of contact in Homewood and is a resident there herself. She has spent much time working alongside community members and organizations in the neighborhood and has most recently helped many small businesses in the community (and in other communities!) adapt to online sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic through our Get Online & Grow Online program, as well as personally assisted business owners in applying for the federal Paycheck Protection Program at the height of the pandemic.

Working with URA staff, Demi helped Ms. Carla and Big D (owners of The Galaxy Lounge and the building as a whole) through a design charrette process with a local Black architect. She was also able to fill in the gaps with additional funding from Neighborhood Allies.

Before and After Photos of the building

Ms. T’s new sign!

We even forged a new partnership with theatre company Quantum Theatre on their NearBuy initiative, which partners with local businesses in communities where they perform to provide gift cards or meals to neighbors experiencing food insecurity.They were looking for restaurants in Homewood to partner with, and so Neighborhood Allies connected them directly to Ms. T’s. In addition to this new partnership, Quantum Theatre also provided Ms. T’s with a new logo, fresh branding, new signage, and social media promotion to add to her new façade!

“I would recommend this program to anyone,” said Ms. T. “They [Neighborhood Allies] helped me with the struggles of being a small business owner; they helped me achieve goals that I would have never reached without their assistance. I want to thank them for their help and time.”

The new branding has certainly given Ms. T’s Restaurant a boost. In October, Wiz Khalifa himself stopped in to grab some lunch!

Ms. T with Wiz Khalifa at her shop.

“Small businesses are absolutely vital to having thriving, resilient and equitable neighborhoods,” said Demi. “The small business owners we work with have so many unique talents, products, and services to offer; we’re simply here to highlight their work, provide them with the resources needed to take their businesses further, and serve as a trusted partner whenever and however they need us.”

Located in a joint building on Kelly Street in Homewood, Ms. T’s serves breakfast, sandwiches, pizza, dessert and more, while The Galaxy Lounge is a well-known bar and entertainment center with a full dinner menu and daily specials. Check them both out at 7246 Kelly Street in Homewood!

We are honored to support our neighborhood small businesses as we work towards our vision for all neighborhoods to be resilient, thriving, and equitable!

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA