Dabar’s housing development projects are revitalizing neighborhoods throughout New York City. NP is proud to work with Dawanna and team on the 1921 Atlantic Avenue transaction in Brooklyn, which will help transform the area from a food desert to a thriving multiuse district. We are also working with Dabar on matters related to a National Urban League-led project. As the relationship has grown, so has the NP team, which now includes Darren Miller, Ruben Ravago, James Allen, and many others.
Working with clients like Dawanna, who are making a positive impact in communities, is one of the highlights of practicing at NP. Please read on to learn more about Dabar’s important work.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company.
I am Managing Principal of Dabar Development Partners. My career started as a commercial real estate lawyer, spending most of my practicing years at Sidley Austin. When I decided to leave the practice of law and pursue my entrepreneurial interests, a natural shift for me was to real estate development. I had already acquired and renovated a few small buildings and enjoyed the process. Initially, the development firm started out as a simple idea—to create property developments with services and amenities in my emerging Brooklyn neighborhood similar to what I saw in more upscale communities in New York City. Eventually, the firm’s geography expanded, and we focused on establishing equity throughout communities in large metropolitan cities. Today, we own and/or have developed thousands of apartments throughout NYC.
What impact is your company making across your industry?
Dabar has been making inroads in many types of communities with a diverse array of projects—both market rate and affordable mixed-use projects. It’s clear that when we complete a project, the development becomes an economic engine and a source for growth. Data shows that every investment we make is an investment that will be felt by residents at the project and the larger community. For that reason we are excited to deliver new projects, as they result in life-changing improvements to the community and the city.
Are there any specific projects or recent successes you’re particularly proud of that you would like to share?
Recently, we completed a project known as 1921 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, which includes 236 apartments, along with vital retail and commercial space. Situated at the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant, this area was a known food desert and somewhat derelict of services and amenities. Beginning in 2023, tenants started moving in and they will enjoy the benefits of having a bank, medical office, and a grocer at the ground level of the building. These are services and amenities many of us take for granted. However, in the further reaches of the Boroughs, such services have not been historically readily available.
Why do you do the work you do?
Quite simply—to help others. My mother being a single parent was hugely inspirational to me. She worked three jobs—full-time, part-time, and weekends—in Atlanta, GA, and managed to provide me with everything I needed to succeed. It was clear to me that not all single parents were as capable as she. I felt immense gratitude to her for the sacrifices she made. I attended great schools in great communities and was rewarded with a great career, family, and loved ones. I aspire to pay it forward and bless others.
Are there shared goals and values that drive the successful relationship between you and Nixon Peabody?
My experience as a commercial real estate lawyer has been hugely impactful on my close connections with legal counsel at Nixon. I have worked closely with numerous attorneys, including Joseph Lynch, Meghan Altidor, Dana Roper, and Darren Miller. It’s clear that we share a mutual goal of excellence in every deal. Whether we are faced with negotiating, deal structuring, or navigating complex legal documentation, we share an understanding about professionalism, expedience, and getting it right. Because of this awareness, I am also able to trust my counsel is doing what is best for our firm as a client at all times. This is a privilege and one of the core tenets of our successful relationship.
What do you see as a major opportunity or challenge for the real estate/affordable housing market in the year ahead?
Since we develop both market rate and affordable housing, we are deliberate in our efforts to create more equitable and sustainable communities in urban neighborhoods. With respect to affordable housing, our strategy is to ensure that naturally occurring affordable or restrictive affordable housing remains economical long-term, even following capital improvements. These are trends gaining ground in the industry overall.
Also, I am elated to see there are more people of color and women coming along in the profession. Historically, we have been hugely underrepresented in the development profession. I previously served as board chairperson of the New York Real Estate Chamber, which is a group that advocates for increased minority representation in New York real estate commerce. It gives me hope to see the incremental increase in awards of projects to minority developers in recent years.