155: Derek Fleming (MSDG, LLC)

Derek Fleming on Innovation City

“It’s really about allowing the culture that exists to remain.” – Derek Fleming

Welcome to Season 3 of Innovation City, a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Derek Fleming, Managing Partner at MSDG, LLC. MSDG is responsible for such community projects as the multi-layered entertainment venue, Red Rooster Overtown. Derek is a real estate developer with a specific focus on hospitality, and he’s known for bridging different worlds and being a mentor to others. In this episode, Derek sits down with the team to discuss different perspectives in real estate development, the “cultural bottom line,” celebrating cultural heritage in development, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Derek’s most interesting development projects
    • The Mission Bay project in San Francisco area, which brought affordable housing, as well as, commercial and open space to an otherwise fallow community
    • Rooster project in Harlem
  • Characteristics of a successful project
    • Economic revitalization
    • Creating jobs and opportunity, but in a different way
    • Being authentic
    • Having a true purpose
    • Getting to really know and celebrate history of the community
    • Public/private partnerships
  • Finding the right team
    • Members have to be aligned with the vision of true development
    • Finding the right business partners
  • Meeting the marketplace and the labor force where it is
    • Building affordable workforce housing
    • Projects like this might not have the best financial output but it would have maximum impact
  • Weighing the quandary that developers have
    • To make bottom line fatter
    • Or to make the cultural bottom line more important
  • Developing a master plan
    • Allowed the community to weigh in
    • A different perspective for developers
    • Inclusion of people who already live in the space
    • Addressing gentrification by enfranchising the people who are there
    • Community space
    • Listening to what people want and need
    • Allowing the culture that exists to remain
  • Developers have a responsibility to invest conscientiously in affordable housing, retail, and culture for all
  • Development as a catalyst
    • Collaboration-first mindset
    • Derek’s positive experience with his own mentors inspires him to “pay it forward”
    • “The rising tide lifts all boats” – collective upliftment
  • Find out what Derek’s up to at RedRoosterOvertown.com or thecreamery@redrooster.com, on Instagram @DFleming7, on Facebook @Derek Fleming, or online at derekfleming.com

Lightning Round:

  1. Where did you grow up?
    • In South Central Los Angeles
  2. What makes you lose track of time?
    • Daydreaming
  3. What is something new you recently tried and loved?
    • Take a step back and be reflective. Having a moment, deep breathing, journaling, etc. It’s really powerful.
  4. Who are your heroes?
    • My grandmother. Bayard Ruston. James Baldwin. Influencers, people who led from behind, not always the ones in the spotlight.
  5. What makes you feel loved?
    • Being listened to, heard, respected.