Celebration of Africatown Plaza Groundbreaking Rings in New Affordable Housing

by Elizabeth Turnbull, photos by Susan Fried

Last Saturday, Feb. 5, local leaders and community luminaries participated in a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate a new building project, named Africatown Plaza, which is intended to bring more affordable housing to the Central District. 

“I think this moment just signifies what’s possible, when we have a thought, we come together around that thought, and then we take that and rally and push it forward to make it real,” K. Wyking Garrett, the CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust, said in an interview with Converge Media.

“A lot of times it looks very bleak but hopefully this is just a small light, a small candle, and if we keep lighting candles and then put our candles together, we can create a different situation.” 

In the presence of city officials, live music, dancing, and community, Saturday’s event was a living celebration. A Po’boy & Tings food truck provided attendees with warm Creole food and at one point, Wyking invited attendees onto the stage to celebrate.

Once built, Africatown Plaza will consist of 126 units of housing, available to families and adults who earn up to 60% of the Area Median Income. The building will also include a community room, a Black-centric art collection space, and a public plaza.

The building will also serve as the new headquarters for Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT), which will include a commercial kitchen space. ACLT and Community Roots Housing have collaborated to make the building a reality — raising $1.26 million in funding on their own. 

The most substantial funding for the building comes from KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment which is providing $34.7 million of construction financing and $14.2 million of permanent financing, while the Key Community Development Corporations is providing $25.7 million of low-income housing tax credit equity.

The City and County have also been involved in funding the program. King County provided $2 million in construction financing and the City of Seattle contributed $13.4 million in acquisition and construction financing.

“We want to build something that lasts longer than anyone of ourselves,” said Girmay Zahilay, a King County Councilmember. “Today is about community ownership. Today is about deepening our roots in the historic epicenter of Seattle’s Black community.”

Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.

Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, shes been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washingtons The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

📸 Featured image by Susan Fried.

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