A real estate developer committed to accelerating the equitable transformation of emerging communities poised to pivot from a history of economic stagnation to a promising future of inclusive growth. 

The Organization

Founded in 1999, DL3 Realty, LP (DL3) is a real estate development and advisory firm that transforms emerging communities through high-impact commercial real estate projects. DL3 pursues new developments that yield both attractive financial returns and positive social impact. Its efforts are guided by a proprietary “venture development” model that analyzes opportunities on three levels– financial returns, local wealth creation, and transformational impact on the neighborhood.

DL3 works with anchor institutions, major employers, and municipalities to revitalize communities through dynamic development projects, including grocery stores, mixed-use housing, retail, office, hospitality, and health care facilities. The venture development process results in projects that provide neighborhood residents with new opportunities to build wealth while stimulating positive economic and social activity. Achieving these inclusive outcomes is what allows DL3 to create an economic “ripple effect” beyond the four walls of any one project.

DL3 Team Discussion

The Challenge

While many Chicago areas attract real estate development to meet existing and future demand, some South and West Side communities of our city have few private developers actively investing in new high social impact projects. Woodlawn is one of those communities that has historically lacked high social impact commercial real estate.

Located just south of the University of Chicago, Woodlawn is in the midst of a resurgence driven by the organic expansion of the University, excitement surrounding the building of the Obama Presidential Center, and the nascent increase in market-rate residential rental and for-sale housing. Despite these encouraging signals, there remains a lack of sufficient resources from private investors to pivot the community from a 50-year trend of economic stagnation and drive the development of new businesses, jobs and neighborhood services.

The Solution

DL3 has formed DL3 Realty Advisors, LLC, a new impact investment company that will target projects designed to sustain and accelerate revitalization efforts across Chicago, beginning with Woodlawn. The company’s primary objective is to invest private capital in new commercial projects that help an emerging community make an equitable transition to one that is socially vibrant, economically diverse, and poised to attract much-needed services and jobs. As an example of the types of developments that can foster these desired changes, DL3 and its partner, Terraco, recently opened a new Jewel-Osco, the first full-service grocery store in Woodlawn in more than 40 years. The presence of a large, high-quality, fresh food supplier is sparking enthusiastic interest in the area from employers, families and other retailers.

DL3’s existing and future pipeline of projects will help create a new market in Woodlawn for private investment in community-centered office, retail, hospitality, housing, and service businesses necessary to meet the needs of this growing community.

The Impact

DL3 through its new special purpose company is leveraging a $3 million initial investment from Benefit Chicago to help capitalize new projects, fund predevelopment costs and provide working capital. The company plans to continue partnering, developing and investing in high impact commercial real estate projects in many of Chicago’s most promising emerging communities, with a focus on Woodlawn.


Leon Walker - photoLeon Walker, Esq. Managing Partner of DL3 Realty, LP
“We are excited to partner with Benefit Chicago to extend DL3’s Venture Development approach to community revitalization to other communities in Chicago.”