Welcome to The Mariposa Project! My name is Isaac and I created this blog to document my quest to transform and revitalize the urban neighborhoods of my hometown, San Antonio, Texas.
Where It All Started
In 2001, I worked in a law firm – my first paralegal job. One of the partners who was very well off had cash to burn and not really any family to speak of. He was a pretty eccentric person (which by the way means crazy for wealthy people). One day he mentioned he was going to buy a second home near the office so he wouldn’t have to go so far if he worked late (he lived about an hour away). He purchased a small house within a block of the office and had a few cosmetic things done just to spruce it up like paint and landscaping. After only six months or so he found that he wasn’t spending as much time there as he thought, and he had no interest in becoming a landlord, so he put it back on the market. He made a very nice profit by accident! It was then that I realized the wealth-building potential of rehabbing real estate.
Although the prospect of getting rich from real estate sounded great (as advertised by 2am television real estate gurus), I had a different perspective of the value of real estate.
I grew up in an inner-city neighborhood on Mariposa Drive. There’s a little corner store (we called it “The Little Store”) about a block away that I used to ride my bike and walk to at least once a week for candies and cucumbers con chile (mmm..). There’s also “The Little Park” nearby where I used to play football and basketball, badly. My little neighborhood holds a lot of treasured memories, not the least of which were the neighbors who could always be found outside their homes painting, sweeping their sidewalks, mowing their lawns, or working in their little gardens. The little 800sf house I called home was nestled in a friendly, caring, and proud neighborhood, and I can remember happy I was living there.
I left home and got married when I was 24. My mom and brothers still live at the Mariposa house and I frequently return to the old neighborhood to visit. Over the years I have become increasingly disappointed in how the old “hood” has deteriorated. What was once a great neighborhood of proudly-owned houses has become depressed and blighted as the houses have aged. Many of the houses have been turned into rentals which only adds to the number of poorly maintained properties in the area. Turning the situation around would be difficult. In order to do so we would need to introduce new homeowners into the area; but fewer homebuyers are willing to buy these fixer uppers and instead opt for a newer home in the suburbs, creating less demand for the inner-city and making it a more fertile ground for additional rentals – a self-perpetuating cycle.
My mission is two-fold: to revitalize the neighborhood of my youth, and to become debt-free and financially-independent in doing so. Eventually I plan to expand this mission to the other urban neighborhoods of San Antonio one house at a time to once again make them desirable areas to live and work. The challenge is great and I’m sure to make some missteps along the way, but I am eager to take the journey and see what one little rehabbing company can do. It promises to be quite an adventure and I welcome your thoughts and comments.