Dahntay Jones was part of basketball history as a member of the LeBron James-led 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the first pro team from that city to win a title in any sport since 1964¹.
In his post-playing career, the Trenton, NJ native is starting out on a history-making journey of a different sort — as the newly minted Managing Partner and Vice President of Pearl Homes. The real estate development company is looking to disrupt the housing market by bringing LEED Platinum, net zero energy homes — previously limited to high-end customers — to the affordable end of the spectrum.
“We plan to build eco-friendly, net zero energy, high quality homes that are affordable for most buyers.”
That is Pearl Homes’ audacious unique selling proposition, according to Dahntay Jones, its new Managing Partner and Vice President.
Developer Marshall Gobuty launched Pearl Homes in 2015, when he broke ground on the award-winning Mirabella, a 55+ community of 158 LEED Platinum certified homes in Bradenton on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The development was one of the first in the U.S. to achieve LEED’s top certification level on a production scale, lowering the cost of Mirabella’s single- family homes to within five percent of a conventional new home.
Mirabella’s success led Gobuty to double down on Pearl Homes green building ambitions, specifically to build bigger, greener, lower cost developments.
Several years earlier, his varied and successful business career — he founded, in partnership with J.C. Penney Co., Arizona Jeans in the 90s — drew Jones to Gobuty.
“I was introduced to Marshall about 15 years ago, early in my NBA career,” Jones recalled. “Always focused on finding a way to make a positive difference through business once I retired, I found his pioneering, ‘don’t accept the status quo’ approach to real estate interesting from the get go. As he evolved to building high quality, green, healthy, technologically-advanced homes —and as I saw that those homes could be priced for everyday people of average means — my interest level ratcheted up several notches. Marshall and I kept talking and that led me to coming on board.”
Jones joins Pearl Homes in what promises to be a busy — and potentially breakthrough — 2019. Construction will begin in the middle of this year on the company’s first community, Hunters Point Pearl Homes & Marina, with 86 solar-powered and zero energy rated smart single-family homes available in the historic fishing village of Cortez, FL. Hunters Point is expected to earn LEED Platinum certification.
“Each home will have rooftop solar that will be connected to a battery from sonnen, a leader in residential energy storage,” shared Jones. “The units are constructed and situated to take maximum advantage of natural light as well as the breezes in the area. A Google Home system will allow the battery to ‘talk’ to the unit. Oh yeah, and every home will have an EV charger.”
One of Gobuty’s aforementioned breaks from the status quo was to design Hunter’s Point’s homes to be smaller — and of course more energy efficient — than is typically seen in that part of Florida. According to Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, Gobuty’s instinct was spot on. “A lot of people are looking for smaller houses now,” Poston told the Business Observer of Florida last September. “I think it’s going to be a great project, appealing to retiring baby boomers and millennials alike.”
Later this year, Pearl Homes will embark on a much bigger, state-of-the-art green home building project that will consist of 720 single- and multifamily, zero energy rental units. The development will feature co-working spaces for those in the 55+ bracket looking to start businesses, another example of Gobuty zigging when most of the market zags.
Jones, whose cerebral, see-two-moves-ahead style of basketball mirrors that of his mentor’s approach to business, is all in. “Marshall has a strong vision about where the world needs to go, green-building-wise. I’m going to help him turn that vision into an affordable reality for people who probably would have only been able to dream of something like this a few years ago.”
His primary role with the company is to help integrate Google Home technologies into the Pearl Homes and ensure all of these technologies work harmoniously together to ensure comfort and energy efficiency. Many consumers today want to be environmentally conscious and tech-savvy, but using a piecemeal approach to put these components together can be costly. By standardizing smart home, energy and storage technology within the Pearl Homes, Jones believes that sustainable living will also become more comfortable and convenient.
Another aspect of Jones’ job will be to generate investment in Pearl Homes that will allow the company to scale. His former NBA teammates and competitors would seem like a ready target market. Problem is, athletes have been relatively slow to gravitate towards the environment and climate change.
Jones, a forward-thinker in his own right, believes the climate among athletes on climate change is, about to, well, change.
“Education is key — we gravitate to what we know and understand, after all,” asserted the former Rutgers and Duke star. “While most pro athletes may not know or care much about climate change now, they do have capital. My plan is to share the incredible investment opportunity that Pearl Homes offers with them, and, in so doing, I will educate them about climate change and how their money can start to make a dent.”
GSB’s Take: Dahntay Jones and I have two things in common: We both are committed to the climate change fight and both attended Rutgers. Because of our shared Scarlet Knights connection², I followed Jones’ NBA career closely and was thrilled when he won a championship ring with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But I am even more excited to follow his sustainable business career with Pearl Homes. If he can help the company disrupt the “housing development market” by making it greener and affordable, he will be a Green Business Hall of Famer³ in my eyes. One road to success for Jones will be to garner investment from his former NBA teammates and rivals. Come to think of it, one of his former Cavs mates has since moved on to the Los Angeles Lakers. If he hasn’t done so already, Dahntay Jones should call his friend LeBron James
¹ The 1964 NFL Champion Browns was the last Cleveland team to win a championship before the 2016 Cavaliers came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit vs. the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals
² Despite Jones’ decision to transfer to that school in Durham, NC, he’ll always be a Rutgers Man to me
³ There is no such thing as a Green Business Hall of Fame — yet