When we looked at the comprehensive plan for the city, I didn’t see my children in it, I didn’t see my peers or our community in it, so we initiated our own, community-based planning process to write ourselves into the future. That became Black Seattle 2035, and the vision for Africatown Community Land Trust emerged prominently out of that.
Today, as we look forward to the opening of Africatown Plaza in 2024 and celebrate the vibrant Black business renaissance underway in the Central District, the answer, to this question may feel like an obvious “yes.” However, eight years ago, the future wasn’t as clear.
In 2015, the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development released the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan with a vision for Seattle in the next 20 years. The city’s projection included little of the provisions necessary to create the conditions for Black Seattle to thrive in the future.
Africatown Community Land Trust President (ACLT) & CEO, K. Wyking Garrett, reflected on that pivotal time recalling, “when we looked at the comprehensive plan for the city, I didn’t see my children in it, I didn’t see my peers or our community in it, so we initiated our own, community-based planning process to write ourselves into the future. That became Black Seattle 2035, and the vision for Africatown Community Land Trust emerged prominently out of that.”
ACLT is building with community, not just for community, with an innovative framework that has produced the Liberty Bank Building, Africatown Plaza and a future mixed-use development at the full block at 1601 Yesler. Those three projects combined will add a projected 540 units of affordable housing to the Central District.
In support of our vision to see vibrant and thriving communities, through Benu Community Home, we are also addressing the over-representation of Black males within Seattle’s houseless population with BENU Community Home’s enhanced shelter services along with the dramatic underrepresentation of Black employees in tech and the creative economy with youth programming at the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation.
Hand-in-hand with Black residents, artists, business owners, community leaders, design professionals and contractors we’ve been able to imagine, design and build the beginnings of an equitable Seattle worthy of the legacy of our Black pioneers and generations of family members who have preserved the vision for the past 140 years.
As we continue to build into the future, we acknowledge that this work has not been accomplished nor will it continue without the support of Community and partners who understand the importance and value of building equitable spaces that create impact and legacy for generations to come.
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Africatown Community Land Trust is working for community ownership of land in the Central District that can support the cultural and economic thriving of people who are part of the African diaspora in the Greater Seattle region. The Africatown Community Land Trust board is comprised of real estate professionals, business executives, entrepreneurs, and other professionals and long-time community members from the Central District.