James (Monte) Montague, president of F7 International Development,a community developer celebrated for opening of Elder’s Peak, an independent living community for senior citizens ages 62 and older.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you set aside your differences and focus on the greater good and the people who stand to beneﬁt,” Monte said.
Years before the land was assembled for construction of Elder’s Peak, Monte and his consulting team began chiseling away at the cumbersome process associated with a project of this magnitude. “I appreciate the support of the many individuals and community-partners who showed dedication and believed in this endeavor,” he said. A noted partner in the project was the City of Raleigh Community Development Department, which oversees and implements the City’s efforts to increase and improve the housing stock for underserved populations and neighborhoods in Raleigh. Also joining the collaboration was Community Affordable Housing Equity Corp (CAHEC), a non-proﬁt Raleigh organization that acquires and manages investment funds for low-income housing tax credit projects throughout the Southeast and mid Atlantic region. Elder’s Peak is CAHEC’s ﬁrst tax credit project in Southeast Raleigh. Yolanda Winstead, CAHEC Project Development Ofﬁcer said, “It is important for us to seek out relationships with small local based community developers who are making an impact right in our backyard.”
Elder’s Peak is not Monte’s ﬁrst and only venture. Completed over ﬁve years ago, Statue Side Business Park located in Southeast Raleigh on Rock Quarry Road, stands as Monte’s initial entrée into the world of commercial development. Farther along Rock Quarry Road is The Cultural Commerce Center, recently approved for an additional three phases. Travel to Apex, Fayetteville and Greensboro and you will see Monte’s other Cultural Commerce Centers either occupied or under construction.
As Monte grows in experience and conﬁdence, so do his business ventures and supporters. Monte recently joined with Charlotte-based Wachovia Bank to launch construction of the Mid-Town Shopping Center in Greensboro. The $40 million dollar mixed-use development will offer housing, ofﬁce space and hotel. With community development posted as one of Wachovia’s top priorities, the partnership with Monte will augment Wachovia’s investment initiatives designed to support small businesses and build stable and safe neighborhoods.
A son of Southeast Raleigh, Monte recalls what it was like growing up in Southgate. “Years ago, there was a stronger sense of community and willingness to care for your neighbor. Today, neighbors don’t know one another and people have forgotten about youth and seniors,” he said. His passion for people was cultivated as a child. He watched his mother take time out for youth in the community, eventually earning her the appellation “neighborhood mother”. “She would load the neighborhood kids into her van and take them to the park,” he said. And as insigniﬁcant as this may seem, Monte believes that this kind of concern and involvement is what’s missing today.
Monte, a graduate of Broughton High School, obtained his barbering and cosmetology license in the late 1980s. “The idea of using my artistic ability to transform looks was intriguing,” he said. He eventually opened his own barbershop/salon and made a name for himself offering unisex services. He was good at what he did and the industry recognized his talent through features in trade shows and industry magazines.
As Monte’s business aged, he found himself servicing older clientele, who often times talked about the shortage of services in the community. His attentiveness eventually became an idea – an idea that would ultimately be his vision to impact the community through building and design.
Monte believes that his passion, determination and faith in God equipped him to venture into unfamiliar territory – carrying with him a mission to build lives and communities. And for James Montague, it all started in Southeast Raleigh.