New Development Brings Affordable Housing to Central District

Over the last few years, Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood, the Central District, has been through quite a bit of change. Years of development and gentrification have caused home prices to skyrocket, displacing many of the area’s long-term residents and shrinking the local Black population to just 20%.

But a new project, helmed by Community Roots Housing  in partnership with Africatown Community Land Trust, aims to bring affordable housing and community spaces back to the neighborhood.

Located at the corner of 23rd Avenue and East Spring Street, the development, known as Africatown Plaza, will include 126 affordable housing units, retail spaces, an art collection and a community room. The project will also support local Black architects, construction firms and planners.

The groundbreaking for Africatown Plaza was a celebration in itself, and included cultural activities like a West African dance performance, commemorative bottles to be filled with soil from the groundbreaking, speakers and artistic renderings of the building.

The seven-story development will be affordable for people making below 60% of the area’s median income, which in this case is about $48,600. Community Roots Housing will also work with Lake Union Partners to complete the project. The project will utilize around $60 million in funding from the city of Seattle, Africatown, King County and other sources.

While Seattle still has a long way to go in terms of grappling with its history of gentrification, the recognition and funding of important projects like Africatown Plaza is a good place to start. With concerted effort, the city can continue to support and empower its Black community through cultural spaces, public platforms and equitable housing for all.

This article was originally posted on the Seattle Times by Heidi Groover.

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