Africatown Plaza Groundbreaking inaugurates new cultural anchor and affordable housing for the Central Area

Africatown Plaza Groundbreaking inaugurates new cultural anchor and affordable housing for the Central Area

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.

Sources for this article:




Crescent Collaborative Board of Directors bids farewell to Maiko Winkler-Chin, welcomes Quynh Pham

Crescent Collaborative Board of Directors bids farewell to Maiko Winkler-Chin, welcomes Quynh Pham

Crescent Collaboration Board Changes - 2022

After three years as the Chinatown/International District representative on Crescent Collaborative’s Board of Directors and its President, Maiko Winkler-Chin has accepted an appointment as Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing and therefore can no longer serve. Maiko thanked the Collaborative for including her, “I believe that my association with this work is one of the major reasons why I was asked to step into my role at the Office of Housing.” In-coming Board President, Andrea Caupain Sanderson noted, “While we will miss Maiko’s presence, wisdom and humor on the board, we know that she will bring her passion for equitable community development, as well as her first-hand experience, to her new role at the City.”

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer of Byrd Barr Place and Central District representative for the Board now assumes the role of Board President. Doug Holtom, First Hill representative and Executive Director of First Hill Improvement Association, has been elected Vice President.

At its March meeting, the Board voted in Quynh Pham, Executive Director of Friends of Little Sài Gòn, to fill the Chinatown/International District seat on the Board. Quynh accepted this appointment noting, “I am honored to be part of this board with all of its amazing leadership.” Quynh’s first meeting will be in April.

Other board members include Chris Persons, Chief Executive Officer of Community Roots Housing, representing Capitol Hill; Sue Taoka, Bill Block and Michael Brown, at large members; and Kent Koth, Director of Seattle University Center for Community Engagement, and Rachael Steward, Community Services Administrator, Seattle Housing Authority, non-voting ex officio members representing their respective institutions.

Crescent Collaborative and Seattle University RAMP-up publish a case study…

Crescent Collaborative and Seattle University RAMP-up publish a case study…

Earl's Cuts and Styles storefront in Liberty Bank BuildingEarl’s Cuts and Styles had been an important cultural center and meeting place for the African American community in the Central Area at 23rd and Union since 1992. With the planned redevelopment of Midtown Plaza, many in the community worried that the barbershop would not survive. It was hard to imagine the Central Area retaining its identity without Earl’s. The surrounding community made a commitment to saving, and therefore, moving, Earl’s business.

Construction of the Liberty Bank Building across the street presented a not-to-be-missed opportunity. It had available commercial space and a developer, in Community Roots Housing, that takes advantage of its affordable housing developments to also address broader community development needs. Community Roots Housing had made a commitment to honoring the legacy of Liberty Bank, the first African-American owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, in its new building on that historic site. Leasing the commercial spaces to Earl’s Cuts and Styles, an African-American-owned business serving that community, was an ideal way to carry out that commitment.

One of the keys to Earl’s successful relocation was the assistance of Seattle University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s RAMP-up program, Randy Massengale and Amelia Marckworth from RAMP-up worked with business owner Earl Lancaster to help him make the transition not only to a new space but also to new ways of managing his business.

On December 19, at the Crescent Collaborative’s monthly policy group meeting, the story of this transition provided a powerful example of small business survival in gentrifying neighborhoods. Massengale and Marckworth discussed their work with Lancaster and shared lessons learned from their experience. The move required about three years of planning, including small business technical support, putting together the necessary funding from many sources and managing the design and construction of the new space. Financing for the relocation came from grants and loans from Craft3, Community Roots Housing, the City of Seattle Offices of Economic Development and Arts and Culture, and the Central Area Collaborative.

About 30 collaborative partners from community-based organizations, financial intermediaries, city government and subject matter experts contributed to the discussion. Many policy group members, including Ken Takahashi (Seattle Office of Economic Development), Che Wong (Craft3), Inye Wokoma (Wa Na Wari), Jill Fleming (Community Roots Housing) and Dennis Comer (Central Area Collaborative) also had a part in helping Lancaster move his shop. They each shared their perspectives on the experience with the group.

Ellen Kissman (Crescent Collaborative Consultant Team member) Massengale and Marckworth, have prepared a case study of Lancaster’s story that will inform the Collaborative’s policy and systems change agenda, as well as being a resource for others working to help small businesses in changing neighborhoods.

The case study can be can be seen and downloaded here.

Updated Sept 15, 2021, Originally published Jan 10, 2020

Crescent Collaborative welcomes community members to its board, elects officers

Crescent Collaborative welcomes community members to its board, elects officers

Andrea Caupain Sanderson
Rachael Steward

Four board members representing their neighborhoods and two ex officio members have recently joined the Crescent Collaborative board.  The neighborhood representatives are:

  • Maiko Winkler-Chin (top left), Executive Director of the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, will represent the Chinatown-International District and Little Saigon.
  • Andrea Caupain Sanderson (top middle), Executive Director, Byrd Barr Place, will represent the Central Area.
  • Anne McCullough (top right), Executive Director of the First Hill Improvement Association, will represent First Hill.
  • Chris Persons (bottom left), Executive Director of Capitol Hill Housing, will represent Capitol Hill.

AyeNay Abye, Deputy Director, Seattle University Center for Community Engagement, and Rachael Steward, Community Services Administrator, Seattle Housing Authority, will participate on the board as non-voting, ex officio members representing their respective institutions.

At the December meeting, the board elected officers for 2020.  Maiko Winkler-Chin was elected President, and Andrea Caupain Sanderson was elected Vice President.  Michael Brown was re-elected Secretary-Treasurer.

Crescent Collaborative partners receive City of Seattle funding

Crescent Collaborative partners receive City of Seattle funding

Four Crescent Collaborative organizational partners received notice of funding yesterday when Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City of Seattle will invest $110 million to create 1,944  new affordable homes in neighborhoods across Seattle. This is the largest one-year investment for affordable housing in Seattle’s history.

The funds invested through the City’s Office of Housing will support the construction of thirteen new buildings in Seattle for a range of communities, including seniors, low-wage workers, families and people experiencing homelessness. Crescent Collaborative partners will build 493 of the planned units in four buildings, two in Crescent Collaborative neighborhoods and two in other areas.

Mayor Jenny Durkan with Africatown’s Wyking Garrett at the funding announcement.

A partnership of Africatown Community Land Trust and Capitol Hill Housing will build Africatown Plaza, at the corner of 23rd Ave E and E Union, with 132 affordable apartments serving residents with incomes of 60 percent of Area Median Income or below.

The Seattle-Chinatown International District PDA received funding for an apartment house on Beacon Hill serving residents at 60 percent AMI. This project will create 154 units for people at risk of displacement from North Beacon Hill and the Chinatown International District. Seattle Housing Authority received funding for the 82-unit Lambow Apartments in Delridge, for low-income families and individuals.


Capitol Hill Housing received funding for The Eldridge, a 125-unit apartment house serving LGBTQ seniors with incomes below 60 percent AMI and below 30 percent AMI.

In addition, three of the thirteen new buildings will be built in First Hill by other nonprofit housing providers.

Office of Housing Director Emily Alvarado introduced the funding announcements with these words: “Today we make an historic investment in our values to create a more affordable and equitable city, to foster inclusion, to address homelessness, to advance sustainability and to further fair housing. Today we invest in the basic human needs of our neighbors and the basic infrastructure of our city. Additional information is available on the City of Seattle Office of Housing blog.


Video project documents history of collaboration

Video project documents history of collaboration

On Nov. 21, Crescent Collaborative introduced a series of five short videos that document the history of its predecessor organization, Yesler Community Collaborative (YCC).

The videos trace the history of this community collaborative from its beginnings in 2014 to the present, as it expands its board and looks ahead to ongoing neighborhood collaboration among the neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Seattle.

In order to produce the videos, YCC consultants interviewed more than 20 community members who have been involved in the work of the collaborative. These videos were then edited and condensed into five videos,each of which is approximately five minutes long. Vi Lynk was the videographer for the project. She worked with YCC consultants to shoot and edit the videos. All five videos are available in the History section of this website.

In addition to the videos, YCC also produce an eight-page final report documenting its activities. That report can be downloaded here.

Both the videos and the Final Report were introduced at the final YCC Partners Meeting, held at Washington Hall in Seattle’s Yesler neighborhood and attended by about 60 people. A panel discussion at the meeting considered the lessons learned about community collaboration over the past five years and discussed the organization’s transition to Crescent Collaborative.