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Organizers hope Africatown Plaza will help the Black community thrive in Seattle's Central District

Speakers pledged to continue work toward affordable housing and commercial space, so displaced residents can return and thrive and current ones can stay.

SEATTLE — Africatown Community Land Trust and Community Roots Housing held a groundbreaking celebration Saturday for the Africatown Plaza project, complete with performances, libations, singing of the Black national anthem and remarks from speakers. 

Community members recounted the history of the land near 23rd and East Spring Street, recognized the significance of reclaiming the space, and pledged to continue working toward restoring affordable residential and commercial space in Seattle's Central District. 

The Africatown Community Land Trust works to acquire and develop land for the Black/African diaspora community to live, own businesses and work in the Central District affordably and supports other efforts to retain and develop land. 

Planners say the Africatown Plaza project will create 126 new units for families and individuals making up to 60% of the Area Median Income, with maximum household salary dependent on the number of people in the home.

Along with housing units, the space will include a public plaza, curated art collection, headquarters for ACLT and a community room. 

A press release from organizers of Saturday's event explained the significance of the location and of this moment, writing: 

"Africatown Plaza will continue a legacy of community building on the site of the former Umoja PEACE Center, the grassroots, Black-led community organization where the Africatown Seattle movement began over a decade ago. The 7-story mixed-use development is an extension of the partnership between ACLT and Community Roots. Building on the success of their previous collaboration, Liberty Bank Building, the two organizations are embarking on Africatown Plaza in an effort to build another cultural anchor and stem the tide of displacement in the Central District. 

The Central District has been the center of African American and African diaspora life in Seattle for over 140 years, but today gentrification and rising rents are threatening affordable housing, commercial affordability, economic development, and cultural preservation. ACLT and Community Roots are working to maximize the participation of African American contractors and subcontractors to create economic opportunities for the community during the construction process."

At Saturday's groundbreaking celebration, speakers expressed hope and commitment to reacquiring more of the nearby blocks from which people had been displaced. To learn more about their efforts or get involved, click here