Identical twins Anthony and Anton Downing grew up on the south side of Chicago, but the two brothers spent their summers in the Bahamas where their mom, Michelle Darville Downing was born and raised.
The twin’s mother instilled how important it was for them to become homeowners one day.
“I think it started with our parents on both sides, having parents who own property,” Anthony Downing told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “They owned their own homes and they gave us a tradition that when we get out of college we should own our homes too.”
The twins took her advice and are now so much more. Not only are they firefighters and real estate investors, but also graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
While working as Chicago firefighters in 2013, the twins noticed a need for development in their community and began purchasing and renovating single-family homes and apartment buildings in Chicago, quickly turning their business into a success
“It was always a goal of ours to go back to the Bahamas because we had gone there pretty much every year of our lives, we were even christened in the Bahamas,” Anthony Downing said.
“When we would go down there our mother would always take us out into this less populated neighborhood and we’d see this vacant land with coconut trees and goats and chickens and bush growing and our mother would say ‘This is your land, I fully expect for you to come back here and build on it.'”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Downing brothers decided to sell their Chicago properties, return to the Bahamas, and begin renovating houses there.
“It was just a great opportunity we just looked at the market and said when will we get more money for our property than now?” Anton Downing said. “On top of that building in the Bahamas, those properties, especially new construction in Coral Harbor, we knew that the value would always be there for decades to come.”
Like any twins, the two brothers are in constant communication and don’t allow each other to fail and they work in tandem to keep their spirits high.
“Now the downside to all of this is that we can spend way too much time together and get on each other’s nerves so like anybody we kind of need a break from each other and we know when we need a break from each other because that’s when we get to arguing and fussing over things that don’t even matter,” Anthony Downing said.
In 2019, the Downing brothers became the first Black men to get their own pilot, Double Down on HGTV, which followed them as they renovated apartments in the Chicago area. The two men were well aware they were the first Black men to host a pilot on the network and made it a point to show Black men in a positive light.
“The production company that we worked with us to film the show, made us aware that we would be the first and making history is something really important to us,” Anton Downing told Black Enterprise. “Representing us in a positive way when there’s so much noise from reality shows that don’t show Black people in the best of light that we would be able to come on there and be fun and safe and articulate and really show people what’s possible within real estate and renovations we took pride in it, it was an exciting thing to do.”
The Brothers were also featured on the first season of Tru TV’s Backyard Bar Wars with comedian Chris DeStefano. The show is a competition series where the brothers worked with homeowners build custom bars for their backyards.
The Downing Brothers have used their expertise and platform to help African Americans buy homes and build wealth. Additionally, the twins are making history, carving paths in entertainment, and empowering communities.
“We don’t take any of this stuff for granted,” Anthony Downing said. “We make sure the things that we say and how we present ourselves are done with the purpose because we feel like they’re going to be children or adults who are coming after us and who see it and say they did it I can do it too, I can even do it better.”