12th & Broad

Feb. 25, 2014 12:06 PM

Real estate developer brings new hope to Nashville neighborhoods, African orphans

Britnie Turner Britnie Turner, front, with her Aerial Development crew. Louisa Wells

"Whatever we do, we do it big," CEO Britnie Turner told me confidently.

Turner, at only 25, is making headway in the real estate world as the only female developer in the area who is under 30. She bought her first house at just 18 and started flipping houses soon after that, in 2009. "One day I thought, How can I impact everything I touch in a positive way?" Turner said. "Then I built a business around that."

"The idea is to flip houses and make a percentage of what we turn around," Turner said. The team is finding beauty in the broken, inviting us to the crossroads where the old meets new.

Aerial Development Aerial Development's offices are located in a historic space that had fallen into disrepair. Louisa Wells

Statement of purpose

One prime example is the company's recently renovated office space, a once-historic home turned burned-down shack turned creative headquarters. It's a humble yet powerful statement of design and purpose.

"We wanted to create something that stood for who we are. We all have a special love for historic things, but the challenge comes with putting a fresh spin on the inside. Everything is built to make you think, from the foyer to the light fixtures." Turner has an eye for the little things, weaving messages and inspiration through every last detail in her unique flair, which she dubs "princess industrial."

Aerial Development The Aerial Development office will soon be open to the public as an space to house community meetings and other small gatherings. Louisa Wells

The office will soon be open to the public as an space to house community meetings and other small gatherings.

Turner's team, now numbering 16, was "dropped in my lap by God," she says. Today, they don't just salvage old properties; they build up communities.

With 107 houses in Davidson County under their belt, 67 properties revitalized on three neighboring streets in Salemtown and ongoing projects in 12South and East Nashville, Aerial Development is sprinting at lightning speed to transform the neighborhoods and communities of Nashville to bring growth, business and safer streets.

Aerial Development Aerial Development has its own construction company, design department, acquisition and sales team, in-house real estate agent and special apartment division. Louisa Wells

With their own construction company, design department, acquisition and sales team, in-house agent with Village Real Estate and special apartment division, Aerial is able to tackle 50 to 60 houses at a time while also buying hundreds of apartment units.

"We have a passion for seeing the inner city revitalized," Turner says.

As real estate developers, the Aerial team will buy a lot and renovate the structure, often leading to a change in the entire community. "We never buy anything nice. We find a struggling community and pick the worst houses to tear down and build something new."

Aerial Development Aerial is able to tackle 50 to 60 houses at a time while also buying hundreds of apartment units. Louisa Wells

The goal Turner started out with, though, was not one of financial or industry prowess or even personal fulfillment. She says that serving others is her motivation, and serving alongside her staff keeps her pursing that goal. "It's like a family. We've got each other's backs and we're all on the same page — purpose-driven. We're living and breathing what we talk about."

"There's been plenty of stressful days when I want to throw in the towel, but I don't quit because it's not about me."

Aerial Development Aerial Development focuses on revitalizing older properties and neighborhoods. Louisa Wells

Global vision

The name "aerial" refers to the recurring theme of keeping the big picture in mind. Turner likens it to an army general strategizing his next move by first looking at a map of the whole battlefield.

Even as it builds structures from the ground up on new foundations, Aerial Development is helping the less fortunate build new lives through its charitable giving. The company has partnered with Horizon Initiative to sponsor orphans in Africa. With each house sold, a percentage is sent back to the area where Turner was first moved to action while on a mission trip. The sponsorship is made in the name of the homeowner — Aerial pays the first year — so that each family has the option to continue giving on their own.

Turner's first trip to Africa awakened her to the needs of children there without homes. As she built orphanages and learned the ins and outs of the system, she decided the best option for instigating lasting change was to establish sustainable businesses.

Aerial Development Aerial Development was started by 25-year-old Britnie Turner. Louisa Wells

By building additions to the orphanages and purchasing cows, chickens and several other animals, her team has been able to jump-start a revenue for each orphanage, which cost an average of $11,000 per month to maintain. The homes first provide for their children, and by selling extra resources at the market — such as milk and eggs — they produce an overflow.

Going one step further, Turner made sure that the children who "graduate" from orphanages are not pushed out of the door with empty hands, but receive a small inheritance to sustain their transition into the working world.

"These kids we've been able to help will not leave their orphanage with the mindset of an orphan, but they get to experience a real family model with our partners overseas."