The Downing Brothers Are Building Generational Wealth In Chicago One Single-Family Home At A Time
Meet the Chicago natives, twin brothers Anton and Anthony Downing, and learn about their HGTV home renovation show 'Double Down'
At the climax of last year, we shared a story of two Chicago brothers, who were on the brink of the opportunity of a lifetime. Anthony and Anton Downing, twin brothers and Chicagoland firefighters, were given the opportunity to take their entrepreneurial efforts as house flippers and renovators to mainstream television, when they were offered a pilot for their show Double Down. Well, the pilot was eventually picked up, initially premiering on the DIY Network last December. However, now it's set to make its highly anticipated debut on HGTV.
Like what you're reading?
Get more in your inbox.
“Our show is a renovation show. Sometimes people think that renovation and flipping are the same thing. The thing about flipping is, once you finish renovating the property, you immediately sell it for a profit. A renovated property can be kept, housed with tenants and used as cash flow,” Anton told Blavity.Anthony and Anton Downing are no strangers to doing things as a team, both graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pledging Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., and also joining the Chicago Fire Dept. serving inner city and surrounding suburbs. True Chicago natives, the Downing brothers originally hail from the South Side, growing up near 87th street and the Dan Ryan Expressway — the same neighborhood in which they flipped their first property together. When asked how they got their start in the house flipping business, both brothers proudly admitted that their mother has been their greatest inspiration for owning and renovating property.
“She really engrained it in us, ‘Real estate, real estate, real estate. Don’t forget that you have that land in the Bahamas!’ Every time we went home to the Bahamas, she would take us out there, so that we could look at the land that were had out there. So real estate has been at the center of our reality,” Anthony said.
They also commented on how important it was for them to work on properties in their home city, versus working exclusively on renovation properties elsewhere.Taking great pride in where they choose to launch renovation projects, they intentionally work on properties in the area where they were born, raised and continue to reside in. Additionally, the show also makes sure to employ many Black and female crew and staff members.
“When we were knocking out walls on the first episode, what did you see? All black crew,” exclaimed the duo. “Our realtor is a Black woman, our attorney is a Black woman, our publicist is a Black woman. We love Black women, and we just love our people. We may use a mixed crew on larger projects but the goal is that we will not be excluded," Anton explained.
Anton confessed that when issues arose while shooting the pilot pertaining to how Black people are often stereotyped on television, especially in reality TV, he had to pull his brother aside for a brief pep talk.
“I told him, ‘Don’t get all mad and fit the 'angry black man' stereotype. We know we have a role to play,” he said.
“The whole time we were working on this project, people would ride by as we worked — our aunts, our uncles, our neighbors. You could see people’s excitement about our neighborhoods getting better because our own people are doing it. Perception is key,” Anthony said.
A key offering viewers can anticipate from Double Down is learning how to make the American dream an attainable reality.
"Most people — if they ever get to buy any property in their life — buy it just to live in. We were able to make it to the next step, and we want to show other people because representation matters! We know that when people see us on this show that look like us — our family and friends across the diaspora — after they see us doing this, they can say ‘I need to renovate something,'" Anthony said.
“When you look at most house flipping tv shows, you’ll see $500,000 to $700,000 houses, where they make a profit of $150,000. A middle- or working-class person may look at that and say, ‘Eh, I can’t do that.' We go look at a property and sell it for $261,000 , making a profit of $21,000. [So] people can look at that and say, ‘I can reach that!’ That’s what we want our show to be,” Anton said.
"I know there are going to be some people — millennials, maybe even some people in high school — who are just now thinking of what they want to do with their lives. Maybe they [will] see us and say, ‘I want to buy a home. I want to flip a home and build a business around this.’ That’s the other part of what we do; there’s home ownership and entrepreneurship,” Anthony explained.The Downing brothers know how important this moment in history is not only for themselves, but for the African American community. Each of them takes this responsibility to heart.
“Once we started filming the show, every time we get in front of that camera, we made a decision to make our families proud. If I can make our families proud, then I think that we can make everyone else proud. I think we’ve accomplished that," Anthony told Blavity.
At their premiere watch party, both brothers confessed that they sat back to observe the crowd's reaction, which mostly revealed pride and enjoyment. Double Down is not just two Black guys getting on tv doing demolition on houses. It is a representation of pride and poise with a mixture of lighthearted, natural humor that is also accompanied by great levels of skill, professionalism and inspiration.
Be sure to tune in for the pilot premiere of Double Down starring Anthony and Anton Downing Friday, January 25, 2019 at 12 p.m. CST/1 p.m. EST on HGTV.
Can't wait until the premiere to get your Anton and Anthony fix? Check out the duo on Windy City Live:
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.