Meet Lanre Ajakaiye, a real estate developer and investor who is the mastermind behind the largest Black-owned real estate project in the state of Rhode Island. His project, 25 Bough Street, will be a 15,000 square feet state-of-the-art center of excellence in the heart of Providence that will feature 3-D Black history exhibits, a new-age financial literacy and career center, a world-class multi-purpose function hall, innovative co-working entrepreneurial spaces, and more.
Lanre, a first-generation African-American and 2021 Who To Watch recipient, is no stranger to having a big vision and bringing it to reality. It’s a perspective he gets from his parents who immigrated from Lagos, Nigeria in the 1970s, knowing no one, working in factories to get their college degrees in business management and marketing.
The 25 Bough street development may be Lanre’s biggest project yet. He is set to turn a 15,800-square-foot, blighted building into an affirming mixed-use facility powering the community. His project specifically addresses gaps offering financial literacy education, STEAM education, and Augmented, Mixed and Virtual reality to an underserved population in a city, which are over 73% communities of color. Beyond this, the project will have a multi-purpose function hall and his state’s first interactive, immersive cultural experience museum. The museum looks to leverage technologies like Microsoft Mesh and holo lenses.
25 Bough Street sits at the intersection of culture, community, and social impact that will breathe new vigor into this historic neighborhood and power future generations.
“It’s clear that this is the moment,” says Lanre, “because investors from all over the country have identified the opportunity in Olneyville. As we speak, developers from Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, and beyond have projects currently underway. I was proud to buy the block as a native while I could get in to transform my community.”
While it’s true that Olneyville is in the early stages of a development boom, Ajakaye’s project has one crucial difference: crowd-sourced investment. Rather than relying on a few deep-pocket investors, Ajakaye took advantage of Title III of the JOBS Act outlines Regulation CF (Crowdfunding), a type of offering allowing private companies to raise up to $5 million from community investors. “All of these amenities will benefit the community,” says Lanre. “And my vision is to empower the people who live here to benefit from the growth that comes with investing.” He raised over six figures of support and investment interest in a matter of days with the opportunity for more to support what will be a transformative, one-of-a-kind space!