April 11, 2022

On February 5th, Crescent Collaborative partners Africatown Community Land Trust and Community Roots Housing gathered together the community, grassroots organizers, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and representative of the organizations involved in the development to mark the start of construction for Africatown Plaza.

When complete, this seven-story building at 23rd Avenue & East Spring, the historic hub of the Black community in Seattle, will provide 126 affordable apartments, a public plaza and community room, as well as new headquarters for ACLT and a diverse collection of visual art by Black artists. The curated art collection will exemplify “the spirit of Africatown Plaza — a space for healing, restoring, and celebrating Black and Pan-African communities in the Central District.”

Africatown Plaza rendering

Current drawing of Africatown Plaza by design team GGLO, DREAM Collaborative and David Baker Architects

The building’s location in this formerly red-lined neighborhood which now has a median home price of $840,000 makes it an especially valuable community-created resource to counter decades of gentrification and displacement.

The event was a celebration of Black culture, featuring DJ Zeta Barber, Javoeon Byrd of Awodi Drumming, Adefua Dance, and Creole food from Po’Boy & Tings. Following several performances, a libation to the ancestors and the singing of the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, K. Wyking Garrett, CEO of ACLT noted, “It’s 140 years since 1882 when William Grose bought 12 acres from Henry Yesler and made this a Black community. Fourteen decades later and we are still here, continuing on that legacy in making space for the Black community to grow and thrive.”

Adefua Dance and Drumming Ground, Plaza Groundbreaking

Photo credit: Outside Thinc

City of Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell commented on the significance of Africatown Plaza to sustaining the Black community in the city, “As someone who grew up in the Central District, I know how important it is to protect livability and combat displacement in our neighborhoods. The new Africatown Plaza will bring vitally needed community-led affordable housing, commercial, and cultural space to Seattle.”

Project leaders and community members break ground, Plaza Groundbreaking

Photo credit: Outside Thinc

The project will also support the Black community economically. ACLT has hired a joint venture between Absher Construction and Black-owned general contractor, MAD Construction, to build the building. Black subcontractors will provide a significant portion of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work.

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