While working to reinvigorate blighted neighborhoods, Kevin Newell, founder and CEO of Royal Capital Group, discovered he was also improving the mental and physical health of those living there. UnitedHealthcare recognized the benefits to improved living environments and is now a major investor in Newell’s venture and holding company that’s focused on urban development and innovation.

For example, when Royal Capital Group started construction on The Flats at Grandview Commons, a 94-unit, $20.3 million affordable housing community designed for working families in Madison, WI, UnitedHealthcare became the largest private investor, providing $5.4 million in equity funding.

“A person’s ability to be healthy is largely tied to what goes on outside the hospital and the health care systems,” Newell says. “So, what they (medical experts) basically determined is that, ‘In order for us to treat our patients, we need to make better investments into what their overall living environments are.’”

He gave an example of a child who received a liver transplant, but follow-up appointments with the doctor did not show a healthy recovery process. By digging a little deeper, it was discovered the child and mother were homeless.

“If a person is coming from a background where they don’t have the quality housing and they’re going back to environments where they have poor food access, poor living conditions and higher stress levels, no matter the magnitude of the surgery or the level of treatment they’re not going to be successful because they’re not being put in a position where they can be stable,” Newell says.  

Although investments from the health care industry are novel, Newell is no stranger to real estate development. He is a real estate partner with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, as developer/owner for the new $1 billion Live-Work-Play Entertainment District. He’s the first African American to build and own a multifamily-commercial development in downtown Milwaukee, and the first to build and own a multi-family commercial development in Madison. He has been recognized by The Milwaukee Business Journal as a 40-under-40 recipient, National Top Real Estate Executive, Business Top 75 Power Broker and Top 48 Most Influential African Americans in Wisconsin.

Most recently, Newell was presented with the 2022 Dealmaker of the Year Award in Milwaukee for his social impact on the community.

Newell spoke on The Smart Business Podcast about his efforts to improve the quality of living in the community he grew up in and other blighted neighborhoods. Hit play to catch the full conversation.