Terrica Smith, Real Estate Developer and Investor Determined to Reshape the North Lafayette Landscape

Managing partner for Salt Capital Equity Group, owner of Cache Real Estate, and broker with Real Broker, LLC, Terrica Smith Joins Discover Lafayette to teach us how to not only survive after trauma, but thrive. Smith shares details about her affordable housing project in North Lafayette, Madeline Cove. She also sheds light on her survival story and how God, determination and pure grit led her to her bright future.

Smith is the driving force behind the Madeline Cove project, a 15-acre mixed-used development planned for Madeline Avenue in North Lafayette, in the University Corridor between downtown and I-10. The community was originally started almost 10 years ago, by out-of-state developers, right after Hurricane Katrina. The original developers spent money and time installing all of the ‘hard costs’ such as utilities, drainage, etc.

Ironically, Smith was slated to be the listing agent for homes to be built in Madeline Cove as she was newly embarking on her career in real estate after earning her real estate license in 2006. After the Madeline Cove project went bankrupt, the property was left vacant; in the ensuing years, it became a dumping ground for old tires, furniture and mounds of garbage. “It was disgusting…..you couldn’t drive through without running over garbage,” Smith said.

After successfully building her career in the real estate world, Smith wanted to tap into the possibilities that North Lafayette had to offer. She mentioned that not many people were interested in the area due to its lack of schools and healthy grocery options. “I know what it’s like to feel abandoned, I know what it’s like for people to walk away from you and act like you don’t even exist. I know what it’s like for people to not believe in you” Smith said.

Terrica Smith, the youngest Black female real estate developer in the state.

Madeline Cove became Smith’s passion project. “I realized very early on that we had to be able to change the hearts and minds of people because if people instantly think that the North side is the bad side, then nobody’s going to want to invest any money over there,” Smith said. She noted how so many commercial establishments have closed down in North Lafayette, leaving a shell of its former self in the midst of a food and healthcare desert.

Smith turned to her trusted investors from around the world to invest in Madeline Cove, but they were all hesitant. She had over 100 rejections when soliciting investments, but that only lit the fire of this determined young woman more. She kept a notebook of tally marks of all the rejections she experienced, along with the name of the very first investor who told her yes.

Smith had thought that the newly developed Opportunity Zone Act established under the Trump administration would attract investors who were looking for solid ways to defer tax obligations on capital gains, but it was not so. “The issue for investors was not so much them deferring their capital gains of 30 to 40%, it was really that they did not see the vision for Madeline Cove,” Smith said. The first “yes” from an investor is what kept Smith going. “Of course it wasn’t time to throw in the towel, it was time to turn up the fire and start making more things happen, Smith said.

After countless late hour meetings and persistence, Smith finally got the investments that she needed to make Madeline Cove a reality.  While she hopes the project appeals to those who want to live in the heart of Lafayette in decent and affordable housing, she also dreams of the possibilities that will open up for commercial businesses, grocery stores, etc. when people can see that it is possible to make the community better. Replace the liquor stores and Dollar Generals with fresh fruit stands and commodities that people need to live healthy lives.  Smith noted that she serves on the Plan for North Lafayette task force, chaired by Dr. Geoffrey Stuart of UL-Lafayette, and the ideas being developed look to build upon the strengths of our culture and community.

Madeline Cove’s goal, for Smith, is to make affordable housing accessible to people making $30,000 to $40,000 per year. This is not a federally subsidized housing development. “The goal here is not to put people into more debt, but to teach people good financial tools in regard to home ownership so that they can sustain their investment,” Smith said.  Along those same lines, Smith started Salt Capital Equity Group to allow individuals to invest under the Jobs Act of 2012 (Reg 506 B) that attracts investors to opportunities that can make a difference in local communities.

Phase One of Madeline Cove will include single-family residences, while Phase Two will focus on townhomes and/or more residential housing depending on how many homes the market will absorb. “We have a lot of interest so far from buyers,” Smith said. With home prices starting at $149,900, the area is ideal for those wanting to downsize or purchase their first home inside Lafayette. The homes will be anywhere from 1100 to 1500 square feet. The property is not situated in a flood zone, a big plus. Salt Capital Equity Group will serve as the builder for the project.

Terrica Smith developed a generational wealth building board game called “Developers” that teaches people how to build equity through passive income revenue streams. Visit her website http://www.terricalynnsmith.com/ for more information.

“Having an early start in life feels like you’ve lived an eternity…you’ve seen a lot and done a lot,” Smith says. Terrica Smith’s mother was addicted to drugs and would leave Smith and her siblings home alone with no food or lights for days at a time. Starving, alone and scared, Smith had to fend not only for herself, but her siblings.

One memory that Smith has from the time when she was five years old is graphic, but exemplifies her strength. Her mother sold her to her drug dealer, to pay for her drug debts. “I had seen her having a conversation off with him and she called me in…she needed me to be a big girl, I didn’t know what that meant at the time,” Smith said, “She told me to go with him and literally everything in my body left my soul because I knew something was not right about that situation.”

Smith went through her early life with anger, but quickly had to turn that anger into hope. Smith ended up in foster care, where she endured even more violence and trauma from her foster parents. “I was told that I would end up as a statistic…well I had an issue with that” Smith said.

By the time Smith was 16, she was emancipated from the foster care system, and was pregnant with her first child. By 17, she was homeless under a bridge in New Orleans. Broken, hurt and tired, Smith knew she needed to take action to provide for herself and her baby, Tyreek. She was tired and broken, and had been treated badly her whole life. “When I had Tyreek, I made him a promise that he would never end up in the system like I did,” Smith said, “We may have been homeless at that time under the bridge, but this was not gonna be forever. She promised him: “As long as I have air in my lungs I will fight….to get out from under this bridge, to fight to give my son a better life.”

Smith not only kept her promise to her son, but she named the entrance street in Madeline Cove after Tyreek. “A lot of times when you’re surviving, you forget how to dream,” Smith said, “Just because you’re surviving does not mean you cannot dream.” When asked if Smith had family here, Smith replied, “Lafayette is my family.” Smith has four children today and is married. Her oldest son, Tyreek, turned 18 this year.

Smith’s message is that when you’re barely surviving, it is hard to know how to have dreams. For children in communities that struggle with generational poverty and traumatic home lives, they go through what Smith did but they keep it a secret. They don’t know how to dream. She wants them to know that just because you are barely surviving, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream. You can dream. You just need someone to dream for you. That’s what Madeline is, it’s a dream for the community, a reason to give people a “why” as to why you want to be on the Northside.

Starting when Smith was five years old and sold off to settle drug debts, she learned how to bury the horror by escaping off to “Terryland” in her head, a place where children were all happy, they had their parents, where mothers would give their children lollipops in a beautiful place. It brought back the light to me that I was missing.” Terry was her father’s name. She knows that God protected her from trauma by giving her this mental release from her physical and emotional abuse.

Lack of access to healthcare for people living in North Lafayette is one of Smith’s biggest concerns. “I want to know if a train is passing and you’re on the opposite side of the train that you can still get healthcare.”

A favorite quote shared by Terrica Smith, “Just as we pass on generational curses, we can pass on generational blessings.” A strong woman who has overcome great obstacles to build a safe and sound life that she can pattern for her own children, Terrica Smith is a force to be reckoned with!

In 2018, Terrica Smith wrote a book about her life journey called “Frightened, Scared and Alone No More!!!”  Visit http://www.terricalynnsmith.com/ for more information.

Terrica Smith developed a generational wealth building board game called “Developers” that teaches people how to build equity through passive income revenue streams. In 2018, she wrote a book about her life journey called “Frightened, Scared and Alone No More!!!”  Visit her website http://www.terricalynnsmith.com/ for more information.