Greg Shron and Dan Magder from Center Creek Homes, Richmond, VA, featured real estate investors

Building Dreams and Communities: The Center Creek Story

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Curious about how some urban spaces transform from forgotten to flourishing? Let's dive into the incredible journey of a developer who’s turning those spaces into vibrant communities. Meet Dan Magder and Greg Shron, the co-founders of Center Creek Homes, which offers an innovative market-driven approach to housing development at scale.

Imagine this: two men, once middle school friends, cross paths unexpectedly after 25 years apart, this time at their children’s elementary school orientation. This serendipitous reunion was the spark that ignited Center Creek five years ago. Today, this real estate investment company revitalizes communities in the Richmond, VA, area with a creative and unique approach to building affordable, high-quality housing for today’s families.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dan and Greg to hear the compelling story behind Center Creek, the hurdles they've navigated, and how their collaboration with Kiavi has been a game-changer in their mission.

Are you ready for a dose of inspiration mixed with practical insights into real estate development? Join us as we dive into the incredible story of their partnership.

Coincidence or fate? Center Creek Homes is born

Imagine transforming the forgotten corners of our cities into thriving communities. That's precisely the magic Dan Magder and Greg Shron set their sights on. Their journey began with a vision to revive these underutilized spaces, calling for creativity and collaboration every step of the way. And just when things were getting interesting, an unexpected reunion with an old friend turned out to be the catalyst for an innovative urban revitalization project.

With a solid background from his time at Lone Star Funds, where he gained firsthand experience in the distressed debt market, Dan recognized a golden opportunity. He realized that certain rundown properties held untapped potential beyond mere fixer-uppers, offering a chance to truly impact local communities. This realization propelled him into real estate investing, and he hasn't looked back since. By transforming these types of properties or vacant lots, Dan aimed to breathe new life into languishing neighborhoods, making them places people are proud to call home.

The timing was perfect when Dan unexpectedly ran into Greg, his buddy from junior high whom he hadn't seen in years. Greg had a successful career as an architect and developer, with a knack for designing homes that enhance neighborhoods. This reunion wasn't just a trip down memory lane—it sparked a collaboration that would soon redefine urban renewal.

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A spark of inspiration struck as they caught up, sharing stories of their respective career journeys. Dan, who had recently acquired a vacant lot and was still determining his plans for the space, found the missing piece to the puzzle in Greg. Enthusiastic and brimming with ideas, Greg offered to design a house for the lot, setting the stage for a partnership leveraging their combined expertise in real estate and architecture. Dan sums it up beautifully: "I walked into a new parent orientation, and there was Greg. We hadn't seen each other in 25 years. I mentioned I had a parcel of land I didn't know what to do with, and Greg said, 'I'll design you a house.' That's how our journey began."

Together, they launched Center Creek Homes to transform underutilized urban land into lively, desirable places. Their strategy? Infill construction. By filling vacant lots, they revitalized whole neighborhoods in Richmond, VA, maximized land value, and created beloved homes. "We're repairing a smile in the city," muses Dan, "filling in those gaps with homes that not only enhance the urban fabric but also serve the needs of the community. That's been our vision from the start."

Dan and Greg's approach was about more than just building houses; it was about thoughtfully integrating new, affordable homes into existing communities—rejuvenating and uplifting entire neighborhoods. Their story is a testament to the power of partnership, innovation, and the shared dream of crafting spaces where life thrives in every corner.

The mission and model

Under the leadership of Dan Magder and Greg Shron, Center Creek Homes has set a new standard in infill construction, turning overlooked parcels of land into vibrant, livable spaces. But what exactly fuels this innovative machine? Let's dive in.

A mission grounded in community and creativity

At its core, Dan and Greg's business is driven by their mission: to see value where others see vacancy. It's about peering beyond the present state of an unused lot or a rundown property and envisioning what could be—a home, a neighborhood, a community. Through their unique partnership, these two blend expertise in real estate, architecture, and finance to not only fill the gaps in urban areas but also enhance the very essence of these neighborhoods.

Their approach is refreshingly straightforward yet impactful. Center Creek Homes strategically targets underutilized land within the city's existing framework by focusing on infill construction. This isn't about sprawling new developments on the outskirts of town but rather about revitalizing the heart of the city itself.
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At the heart of Center Creek Homes' philosophy is a simple yet profound quote by the company’s co-founder, Greg Shron: "Our mission is to create houses people love in places people love to be." This statement beautifully captures the essence of what they strive to achieve with every project they undertake.

A business model that builds more than homes

Center Creek does more than just build houses. It builds communities. This commitment is reflected in their business model, which emphasizes thoughtful, design-forward construction that respects and enhances the character of existing neighborhoods. Each project is a carefully considered addition to the urban landscape. It is designed to fit seamlessly into its surroundings while offering modern, affordable living spaces.

Their work isn't confined to a single archetype. From entry-level homes that offer a stepping stone to homeownership to luxury dwellings that cater to more established buyers, this business covers the full spectrum of the market. This diversified approach meets a wide range of housing needs. It fosters diverse, vibrant communities where people from many different walks of life can find their place.

The magic of Center Creek Homes lies in its transformative ability. By turning single lots into multiple homes with smart density strategies or rejuvenating entire blocks through thoughtful design, Dan, Greg, and their team not only boost local housing markets but also contribute to the economic and social revitalization of neighborhoods. At the same time, they create move-in ready homes designed for today's families.

2000 Block, R St, Richmond VA

Center Creek built five houses on this site where only one stood previously – showcasing their ability to build smart and attractive density that provides lower-priced housing options.

Navigating the infill terrain

While expanding into infill construction, Dan and Greg encountered a few roadblocks typical of city building projects. Each project came with its own custom obstacle course, from figuring out zoning laws to building around historical spots and even making it work in tight spaces. Simply knowing how to build a house wasn't enough for the nuanced challenges presented by infill construction. They had to learn the ins and outs of regulations and permitting, including what the community needs and how to play by the city's rules. "Navigating the complexities of urban infill in Richmond was a steep learning curve,” says Dan. “From zoning laws to engaging with the community, each project had its unique set of challenges. But with each obstacle, we found new ways to innovate and push forward."
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One big challenge? City regulations. For example, Center Creek wanted to split one large lot into several homes, making the most out of every inch of space but still keeping true to the look and feel of an established neighborhood. While this type of land planning helps create more housing (and more affordable housing at that), it wasn’t common practice in Richmond, VA. They quickly learned that this project was all about finding that sweet spot: being creative with their designs, ensuring they checked every box for zoning, and keeping things historically on point.

This project really showed what Dan and Greg were all about. They weren't just filling in empty spots on the map but were keeping the neighborhood's history alive while adding new chapters. Through this large project, they proved they could play by the city's rules and still create fresh, desirable, and affordable places for people to live.

Getting through these challenges wasn't just about being tenacious. It required talking with city officials, listening to what people in the neighborhood had to say, and sometimes, getting a bit creative with the solutions. Their team showed that they could respect the past and build for the future at the same time. Their story is a blueprint for how to get things done right—with heart, smarts, and a solid partnership.

Spotting the hidden gems in the city

At the heart of Center Creek lies a knack for spotting diamonds in the rough—those neglected or overlooked parts of the city that most just walk past and immediately forget. Dan and Greg saw these urban gaps not as empty spaces but as canvases for something beautiful and meaningful.

Their efforts have led to some pretty amazing transformations, like breathing life into a once-dilapidated block in Richmond, VA, by creating 12 new homes. This project didn't just change the neighborhood's face. It boosted the whole area's energy and economic health.

But building homes was only part of the equation. Dan and Greg knew that truly successful infill projects required a strong bond with the local community. They dove into understanding the needs and dreams of the neighborhoods they worked in, shaping their projects to offer everything from affordable housing to luxury digs. They even tackled challenging rebab projects to keep the local history alive.

Choosing Richmond as a launchpad

Richmond, VA, caught Dan and Greg's eyes as a perfect place to achieve their mission. The city was full of untapped potential, with plenty of spaces just waiting for a touch of Center Creek’s magic. Richmond's rich history, combined with its vibrant community and hidden pockets of space, made it an ideal setting for their work. Here, they found their stride, weaving their vision into the city's fabric and connecting with communities to create spaces that mattered to those who lived there. “We saw potential in Richmond as a vibrant yet underserved market,” reminisced Dan. “This was about more than just making a profit. It was about contributing positively to the communities we were working in.”

Their approach was flexible, aiming to meet the diverse needs of Richmond's residents, whether it was young professionals looking for modern living spaces or families wanting to plant roots in a tight-knit community. Dan and Greg's work in Richmond became a blueprint for making a real impact through thoughtful construction and community collaboration.

3200 Block, Hanes Ave, Richmond, VA

A transformative glimpse into Richmond, VA, through a project completed by Center Creek Homes.

Expanding their vision

Armed with Richmond's successes and lessons, the partners began to set their sights on new horizons, scouting other cities with potential for transformation. They took the wisdom they'd gathered in Richmond and applied it to new communities, learning the unique rhythms and needs of each place they visited.

Growth and success

From day one, Center Creek has been changing the game in real estate and making a real difference in communities across the board. Through their forward-thinking projects, they've turned empty lots into welcoming homes, given old neighborhoods a new lease on life, and helped countless individuals and families find their perfect place to call home. But for Dan and Greg, it's always been about more than just the numbers. It's about the real impact they're making—on the affordable housing crisis, on communities, and on individual lives.

Greg says, "We're not just building houses; we're building communities. Every project we take on is an opportunity to address the housing shortage head-on, providing quality homes that are accessible to everyone." This commitment to building – and building right – has been a cornerstone of their philosophy.

Center Creek's work highlights its dedication to creating diverse housing options that cater to a wide range of needs. Diversity and restoring the vibrancy of neighborhoods is at the heart of everything they do. This approach has brought hope to residents and contributed significantly to tackling affordable housing challenges by increasing accessibility and options.

900 Block, N 25th St, Richmond, VA

Highlighting the revitalized spirit of Richmond, VA, through a project brought to life by Center Creek Homes.

As they continue to grow and take on new projects, Dan and Greg are focused on amplifying this impact. They're not just looking to expand their portfolio—they're aiming to reshape the housing market itself. By focusing on underserved areas and working closely with communities, they're opening doors to new possibilities and laying the foundation for a future where every development they undertake is a step toward inclusivity.

Their success story is a prime example of how addressing the affordable housing crisis requires innovation, compassion, and a deep understanding of the communities served. Dan and Greg's vision for the future is clear. It's to keep building on their successes, one home, one neighborhood at a time, ensuring that their work continues to be a powerful force for good in the housing market and beyond.

The Kiavi partnership

In this tale of Center Creek Homes, a pivotal chapter was written when Dan and Greg sought a lending partner capable of understanding and fueling their vision for transforming urban landscapes through infill construction. Enter Kiavi—a trusted lending partner that didn't just see the potential in Center Creek's mission but fully embraced it, marking the beginning of a powerful collaboration set to reshape neighborhoods far and wide.

The search for a synergistic partner

Center Creek's leap into infill construction was bold and complex, needing more than just funds—it needed a partner who “got it.” Dan and Greg were on the lookout for someone who could see beyond the blueprint and understand the transformative impact of converting neglected spaces into bustling community hubs. They needed someone who shared their dream of building homes and fostering community-wide revitalization.

Kiavi: A meeting of minds

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When Dan met Arvind Mohan, Kiavi's CEO, at an industry conference, everything clicked. Unlike other lenders who were hesitant about the unconventional path of infill development, Kiavi saw an opportunity to make a real difference. It was the beginning of a beautiful partnership driven by a mutual passion for community improvement and making housing more accessible to all.

Kiavi brought to the table a readiness to explore new territories, offering financial support to projects that traditional lenders often passed over. Our flexibility, innovative spirit, and commitment to solving real-world problems resonated with Dan and Greg, providing them with more than just capital—a partnership that truly understood and supported their vision.

Dan reflects on the significance of this partnership: "Meeting Kiavi was a turning point for us. They were willing to step into this unconventional space of infill construction financing. This partnership has been crucial in allowing us to take on larger projects and make a more significant impact." This collaboration not only enabled Center Creek to expand its scope but also affirmed the transformative power of aligning with a lender that shares a vision for innovative urban renewal.

The partnership flourishes

With Kiavi's backing, Center Creek Homes was poised to take on bigger, bolder projects, transforming not just plots of land but whole blocks into vibrant, living communities. Our customized lending solutions, designed specifically for the intricacies of infill construction, gave Center Creek the edge it needed, ensuring projects moved forward smoothly and efficiently. Greg shares about this symmetry, “Kiavi has been fantastic. It's a really great collaboration. It helped us get financing that made sense, while Kiavi created an infill product that made sense for developers like us.”

Dan saw Kiavi as part of his team, so he invited them to see several of Center Creek's project sites up close. He wanted Kiavi to really understand how their construction work was making a difference. This invitation showed Dan's openness and willingness to work together, and it helped everyone see the good they were doing in cities, strengthening their shared goal of improving urban areas. Reflecting on the visit, Dan noted, "It was a bit of a turning point that really helped solidify the relationship. The Kiavi team was great. They were super smart people, very thoughtful, and very creative.”

Impact and expansion

By providing the necessary capital for infill projects, Kiavi has played a critical role in Center Creek's ability to contribute to the housing market, offering diverse housing options that cater to different demographics. Dan and Greg's success in Richmond has also opened doors to exploring other markets, leveraging the insights gained and the financial backing of Kiavi to replicate their model in new markets.
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With Kiavi's financial backing, Dan and Greg have been able to replicate their successful model in various urban settings, significantly scaling their impact. Greg highlights the significance of this partnership, stating, "The infill loan product from Kiavi helped us scale our business, going from a handful of projects at a time to multiple handfuls of projects happening all at once. Kiavi certainly helped us grow faster than we would have just on our own."

This underscores how Kiavi's tailored financial solutions have accelerated Center Creek's growth, enabling them to undertake more ambitious projects simultaneously and expand their footprint more rapidly than they could have independently.

Advice for aspiring investors

Are you interested in diversifying your portfolio with infill construction projects? Well, you're in luck because Dan and Greg have some pearls of wisdom to share from their own journey. expertise, and before you know it, you'll be dreaming big while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Embrace the Complexity

By its nature, infill construction is complex. Each project is different because it is dependent on the existing urban fabric, demanding solutions that are both creative and pragmatic. Dan and Greg emphasize the importance of understanding the challenges of urban redevelopment. From zoning laws to community engagement, they've found that success lies in understanding the unique character of each neighborhood.

Start small, think big

You don't have to dive headfirst into a massive project right off the bat. Dan and Greg advise starting small and learning as you go. Consider those initial projects as your training ground, where you'll pick up invaluable insights into the intricacies of infill construction. Take it slow, build your expertise, and before you know it, you'll be dreaming big while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground.
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Greg offers sage advice: "Start small and allow yourself to learn from each project. Infill construction is as rewarding as it is challenging. Engage deeply with the communities you're building in, and always keep the bigger picture in mind"

Seek synergistic partnerships

Remember that game-changing partnership with Kiavi? That's the kind of synergy Dan and Greg swear by. Finding the right partners—whether lenders, architects, or planners—is crucial. It's all about aligning visions and weathering storms together.

Engage with the community

You must do more than drop in a building and call it a day. Dan and Greg understand that infill construction is about creating spaces where communities thrive. That means rolling up your sleeves and getting to know the locals. Listen to their needs, involve them in planning, and watch as your project becomes a neighborhood gem.

Stay adaptable and resilient

Finally, Dan and Greg's journey underscores the importance of adaptability and resilience. Infill construction is unpredictable, with each project presenting its challenges and opportunities. Success in this field requires an ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to find creative solutions to unforeseen problems, and to remain resilient in the face of setbacks.

Their secret sauce? Flexibility and tenacity. When things don't go as planned, it's all about rolling with the punches, thinking on your feet, and bouncing back stronger than ever.

Wrap up

Looking back at what Center Creek has built, supported by Kiavi, it's clear that neighborhoods can get a new lease on life when innovative financing shakes hands with creative developers’ big, bold ideas. It's all about rethinking how we bring communities back to life, one lot at a time. With a mix of flexibility, sticking it out through thick and thin, and really listening to what communities need, the stage is set for a city makeover that includes everyone.

Real estate investors looking to get into infill construction can learn key lessons from Dan and Greg's story: know the ropes, start small, find partners who get your vision, talk with the community, and be ready to roll with the punches. The future of building better cities is all about working together, thinking outside the box, and keeping our eyes on the real prize: making a difference.

So, if you're thinking about diving into urban development or you're already in the game and aiming to make a more significant impact, this story shows there's a way to leave a lasting mark on our cities that's both smart and heartfelt. Here's to building not just houses but homes people love in places people love to be.

Note: Jonathan Spiers of Richmond BizSense is credited with the main photograph at the beginning of this article featuring Greg Shron and Dan Magder.

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