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In the green – Creating incentives

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two local entrepreneurs have combined their business and philanthropic interests by creating a charitable foundation to clean up and recycle contaminated real estate – and as a byproduct generate new philanthropic dollars.

Owners of polluted sites can donate them to the new Cherokee Property Foundation, which will arrange for cleaning up and reselling the sites.

Donors can deduct the sites’ full market value as charitable contributions, and will advise the foundation on contributing the net proceeds from the resale – after cleanup costs and foundation handling fees – to support charitable causes.

The foundation is the brainchild of Tom Darden, managing partner of Cherokee Investment Partners, a $250 million private equity fund that recycles polluted sites.

Cherokee Partners is providing office space and staff for the foundation, which will hire Cherokee Partners’ environmental arm to do the cleanup work, and will indemnify donors.

The foundation initially will focus on sites in North Carolina but likely will expand.

“We think it could be a national entity ultimately,” says Jim Anthony, chief executive officer of AnthonyAllenton Commercial Real Estate and Darden’s philanthropic partner at the foundation.

Anthony, who will help the foundation identify potential donors and assess the resale prospects of sites, estimated that the market value of contaminated sites in North Carolina alone totals hundreds of millions of dollars — and billions of dollars throughout the United States.

“We haven’t identified it all, but it’s out there,” he says.

The ability to deduct the full market value of dirty sites deeded to the foundation offers property owners an incentive to donate sites that otherwise probably would remain abandoned, he said.

In addition to cleaning up and reselling those sites, he said, the foundation will generate new philanthropic dollars and keep projects in the pipeline for Cherokee Partners, which is launching a new fund that could double the size of its current one.

PHILANTHROPIC PHILOSOPHY

Anthony talked about his personal philanthropy at a recent luncheon of donors and estate-planning advisers organized by eight Triangle independent schools and colleges.

Anthony concluded he couldn’t control his income but could control his charity by using a donor-advised fund.

Since then, he said in an interview, he has donated roughly $1.25 million in stock, real estate and cash — mainly through funds he has created at the Triangle Community Foundation and the National Christian Charitable Foundation in Atlanta.

He now contributes more than 20 percent of his income to charity, he says.

In addition to his real estate business, Anthony has invested in ventures such as Market Integrity in Raleigh, which provides security services for retailers; Regency Housing, an affordable housing firm that Raleigh developer Gordon Blackwell sold two years ago to SunTrust Bank in Atlanta in a deal ultimately worth more than $20 million; and Iredell Data Communications in Fairfax, Va., which provides telecommunications services in Indonesia.

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