Amid Pandemic and Protests, Umoja Fest Offers ‘Day of Unity’ in Seattle

NPR
August 02, 2020

This year’s Umoja Fest was called a “day of unity for Black lives.” It was shorter than the usual festival, and marked with a sense of urgency about racial equity. But amid the pandemic, people savored the rare chance to celebrate as a community.  Read more >

Black Pastors and Activists Want Central District Land as Reparations

Cross Cut 
July 30, 2020

As Black Lives Matter protests continue, leaders say Seattle should give the community back land they say is owed to them. Read more >

Africatown and King County Equity Now featured in Puget Sound Business Journal

Puget Sound Business Journal
July 23, 2020

“This site makes sense as a focal point of the resurgence of the Black community… as it is adjacent to the iconic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and one block from the Black-owned Bryant Manor Apartments and Pratt Fine Arts Center,” Wyking Garrett, president of the Africatown Community Land Trust, said in an email to the Business Journal. Read more >

Activists Push for Black Land Ownership in Seattle 

High Country News
July 07, 2020

Today’s Central District activists are looking to continue Grose’s legacy as the city’s first Black landowner, via a community land trust — a nonprofit entity that collectively owns and holds property for community uses like housing. “We need a new normal rooted in equity,” said K. Wyking Garrett, president and CEO of the Africatown Community Land Trust. “And equity means ownership.” Read more > 

Photo Essay: “4TH of YouLie” Rally Spotlights Central District Gentrification, Exclusionary History

South Seattle Emerald
July 05, 2020

In place of Fourth of July celebrations, organizers of the King County Equity Now Coalition held a “4th of YouLie” rally and teach-in on 23rd Avenue and Union Street July 4 to address gentrification in the Central District (CD) and the exclusive history of the holiday and its celebration. Read more > 

In Seattle, Protests Turn to Land Ownership

Bloomberg
June 23, 2020

On June 5, well over 1,000 protesters (and at least two handsome horses), crowded onto the parking lot at 23rd and Jackson Streets in Seattle for a 1960s-style teach-in, where neighborhood residents unspooled the history of the city’s Central District. Long known as the heart of Seattle’s Black community, the neighborhood’s identity was forged back in the 19th century, when a Black businessman named William Grose opened a restaurant, hotel and barbershop in frontier-era Seattle and eventually settled the first African-American enclave in the Pacific Northwest. Read More >

All over the Map: The Story of William Grose, One of Seattle’s Earliest Black Entrepreneurs   

MyNorthwest
June 19, 2020

William Grose is a 19th century wealthy Seattleite and community leader who isn’t as well-known as he should be in his adopted hometown. But that might be changing. Read More >

The push to preserve Black culture in Seattle’s Central District

Q13FOX
June 19, 2020
SEATTLE — While protesters for the Black Lives Matter movement occupy several blocks in Capitol Hill outside Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, some Black community groups are a mile away, pushing to preserve their culture in Seattle’s historic Black hub. Read More >

Surprise announcement that city will transfer fire station to community leaves many questions unanswered
South Seattle Emerald
June 17, 2020
Last Friday,  Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods made an announcement on its blog that came as a surprise even to its beneficiaries: After years of inaction, the city would finally transfer control of the decommissioned Fire Station 6 in the Central District to the Africatown Community Land Trust for redevelopment into the William Grose Center for Enterprise and Cultural Innovation, a long-planned incubator for Black-owned businesses.  Read More > 
 
Podcast: Omari and Wyking
Converge Media Network
June 16, 2020
Omari and Wyking discuss the first tangible demand received by the black community from the city of Seattle, firehouse 6. Listen here>
 
 
Protesters want Seattle de-gentrified- This is how it could happen 
Newsweek
June 11, 2020
For more than a week, protesters against police brutality and racial injustice have occupied a six-block stretch of a Seattle neighborhood and turned it into a festive hub for their demonstrations. Read More> 
 
Seattle will transfer Fire Station 6 into a community center for the Central District
King5
June 12, 2020
In response to protests and community demands, the City of Seattle will transfer Fire Station 6 in the Central District to the community. Fire Station 6 has been decommissioned and unused for years. Community leaders have long-pushed for the property to better serve the historically Black Central District. Read More >
 
 

‘More economic empowerment in the community’ — A Black church is leaving the Central District and a Black developer has a $6.9M plan for new growth
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
June 11, 2020
There are hopes and plans for a set of Central District properties to be put into service for the community and to help Black residents, businesses, and community groups thrive there. A key property near 23rd and Union will take a different path with similar goals. Read More>

“We want to live” Rally draws thousands in support of Black youth in South Seattle
South Seattle Emerald
June 8, 2020
No one within a mile of Othello Park Sunday afternoon could avoid the message. The crowd was too massive, the signs too numerous and the uniform chant, Black Lives Matter, was too loud. Read More>

Black-led Equity Now Campaign demands SPD budget be reduced by half
South Seattle Emerald
June 6, 2020
Thousands of community members and protesters, led by organizers of the campaign King County Equity Now gathered on Friday, June 5 for a George Floyd Rally and “teach-in” in the Central District, where speakers listed off specific demands pertaining to land use and the Seattle Police budget, among other issues. Read More >

‘I come as one and stand as 10,000’: BSU hosts Eighth Annual Legacy Soiree
DailyUW
February 3, 2020
The Black Student Union (BSU) hosted its eighth annual legacy soiree on the first day of Black History Month, Feb. 1, at the Intellectual House. Read More>

In one of Seattle’s most threatened neighborhoods, a flower shop still blooms
Seattle Times
January 6, 2020
Since 1984, Wesley has owned Flowers Just 4 U, one of the only Black-owned flower shops in the region. She and her flowers have been there for births, weddings and funerals for generations of Central District families. As the neighborhood changed, so did her clientele, but Wesley kept on, a mainstay on the corner of 23rd and Jackson for 28 years, her bright flowers and signs cheerfully calling out to passersby on the busy intersection. Yet Wesley’s story serves as a microcosm of the shifting demographics and challenging landscape for Black business owners in the Central District. Read More >

13 people who made an impact on the Seattle area in the past decade
Seattle Times
January 3, 2020
Aside from the constant drizzle, persistent gray and dark short days of the winter months, the Seattle area of today is greatly changed, for better or for worse, from a decade ago. Read More>

 

Office of Housing invests in District 3 affordable developments
Madison Park Times
December 19, 2019
District 3 affordable housing projects in the pipeline are closer to being realized after securing funding through the Seattle Office of Housing’s $110 million investment package this year, which is expected to create 1,944 new rental units in the next few years. This year’s investment in affordable rental housing is the largest to date, and includes $13 million in sales tax the city was able to retain through new legislation passed by state lawmakers earlier this year. Capitol Hill Housing and community partners received funding for two projects. Read More > 

Seattle’s Most Influential People 2019: Africatown Community Land Trust President and CEO, K. Wyking Garrett
Seattle Magazine
November, 2019
K. Wyking Garrett is a third-generation Central District resident who grew tired of watching his community being displaced by gentrification and decided to do something about it. As president and CEO of the Africatown Community Land Trust, Garrett (who was also a founding director of Seattle’s African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center) worked with other community groups and nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing on the Liberty Bank Building project, which includes affordable housing and spaces for black-owned businesses at the site of the first black-owned bank west of the Mississippi. Read More >

With vision for ‘African American communities and spaces of the future,’ Africatown Plaza will be next to take shape in the Central District
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
August 15, 2019
Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound. Read More>

Africatown starts community design process for Midtown Center Project
Curbed Seattle
June 5, 2019
Africatown Community Land Trust is getting ready to design Africatown Plaza, a long-planned project with affordable housing and small business space. But the land trust, formed to promote community land ownership that helps the Central District’s black community thrive, is doing things a bit differently: gathering community input first. Read More >

 Hoping to follow the equitable development example of the Liberty Bank Building, Africatown Plaza begins to take shape
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
Tuesday May 28, 2019
Welcome to what we now call sacred ground,” said K. Wyking Garrett, standing in the still bare-bones corner space of the Liberty Bank Building where a new restaurant by That Brown Girl Cooks will land this summer. His comments marked the start of the first community design meeting for the planned Africatown Plaza affordable housing and commercial retail development on 23rd and Union. Read More >

Can cities design policies to help shrink the racial wealth gap?
Fast Company
May 17, 2019
Black families currently have a median wealth of $3,600 compared to white households’ $147,000. It could take black Americans as many as 228 years to reach the level of wealth white households currently control. And that’s an optimistic forecast: A report from the Institute for Policy Studies this year found that black wealth in the U.S. is declining, so many families of color might not stand a chance at reaching levels of prosperity currently enjoyed by white households.   Read More >

Central District, other Seattle communities are at risk – and we all need to help save them
The Seattle Times
May 1, 2019
In a new documentary about gentrification in the Central District, “On The Brink,” an advocate of Seattle’s historically African American neighborhood talks about recent construction projects in the area digging the soul out of that community.  Read More >

The Central fights city hall
Madison Park Times
April 26, 2019
The Central Area Senior Center continues pushing for the city to let it take ownership of the property the nonprofit has been operating in for more than 50 years. Now, it has Kshama Sawant’s support, the Seattle city council-member amplifying the message in city hall.  Read More >
 
Liberty Bank Building Ribbon Cutting Celebration
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
March 4, 2019
Africatown Community Land Trust, the Black Community Impact Alliance, Byrd Barr Place, and Capitol Hill Housing invite the community to celebrate with us as we open the historic Liberty Bank Building on Saturday, March 23, 2019. This glorious new building built on the site of the first African American-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, provides 115 new affordable homes, and affordable retail space for three local minority-owned businesses. Read More >
 
Lost in progress at Midtown Center: a 23 and Union small business and a Central District post office
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
January 6, 2019
As much as some neighbors may be looking forward to the demolition of the old Midtown Center shopping strip at 23rd and Union, the end isn’t much to celebrate. You can feel the missing systematic safety net for Seattle’s small businesses as one small shop owner struggles to sort out what comes next.  Read More >
 
‘Community interest’ – Newly formed Central Area Board will have say on Midtown: Public Square
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
December 17, 2018
A key Central District project to create a set of seven-story mixed buildings at 23rd and Union is ready to finish off 2018 Wednesday night with what many hope is the final step in a multi-year design review process spanning two different developers.  Read More >
 
“Coming Soon” art project takes on gentrification in the Central District
The Daily
August 16, 2018
In the early 1970s more than 70 percent of residents in Seattle’s Central District (CD) were African American. Today, that figure is less than 20 percent. After decades of redlining, a form of racial discrimination when providing neighborhoods with financial or other services, followed by a sweeping tech influx and gentrification, this community is quickly disappearing from the CD.  Read More >
 
Plaza Heralds New Era of Afrocentric Development in Seattle Neighborhood
Next City
August 7, 2018
Destiny Harris was one of over 200 volunteers who turned out on Sunday, July 8, to paint the walls and parking lot of the Midtown Center strip mall, a large parcel being redeveloped in Seattle’s historically-black Central District. “I see my neighborhood getting torn down every day so I decided to help my community around me,” said Harris, who attended elementary through high school in the Central District.  Read More >
 
In Seattle’s Central District, residents, artists imagine a ‘parallel universe’
The Seattle Times
July 23, 2018
In the rapidly gentrifying Central District, the once and future heart of Seattle’s black community, it seems almost every other street corner is home to a developer’s sign advertising a bland new town-house development or apartment building. A group of designers has imagined a different future there. Read More >
 
Africatown gets $1m+ boost from Seattle’s first Equitable Development grant
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
July 6, 2018
Africatown has been awarded a major grant as part of more than $5M in funding for equitable development in Seattle. “Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the grants. Read More >
 
An ambitious effort to combat gentrification in Seattle offers lessons for Portland
Oregon Business
May 18, 2018
SEATTLE—Inside Earl’s Cuts and Styles, Earl, dressed in a red Nike sweatsuit, banters with his customers. An autographed basketball hoop and a framed Gary Payton jersey hang on one wall. A group of black men, young and old, hang out waiting for a cut. Read More >
 
Who will have a place in Seattle? Community leader challenges tech to grow inclusively
Geek Wire
April 26, 2018
“Seattle’s losing a part of its soul.” That’s how Wyking Garrett sees it. He is a third-generation resident of the city’s historically black Central District and he discussed how his community has been left behind by Seattle’s growth at Forterra’s annual breakfast Thursday. Read More >
 
Tech investors back novel fund to protect urban land and fight gentrification in Seattle
Geek Wire
February 16, 2018
A third-generation resident of Seattle’s Central District, K. Wyking Garrett has fond memories of the MidTown Center property on 23rd and Union. He remembers getting french fries at the now-closed Thompson’s Point of View restaurant, where his sister worked in high school, and waiting in line at the nearby post office with his father. Read More >
 
23rd and Union Development Update: Notes on Africatown Plaza, Liberty Bank, and East Union’s New Seasons Grocery
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
November 5, 2017
As developers snag every available piece of land in the booming real estate market of Central Seattle, African American community members demand a seat at the table when it comes to who fills the future Africatown portion of Midtown development at 23rd and Union. Read More >
 
Africatown Partners with Capitol Hill Housing for Midtown Center Development
Curbed Seattle
October 11, 2017
Capitol Hill Housing is teaming up with Africatown to develop Africatown Plaza, a slice of the Midtown Block at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street. Read More >
 
Why Land Trust Are Key In Keeping Seattle Affordable
Seattle Weekly
May 31, 2017
Walk past 23rd and Unionin the Central District and you’ll see one of the last outposts of black-owned Seattle. Surrounded by new hipster bars and cafes and two weed shops, the MidTown block houses a black-owned barbershop and liquor store and until recently was home to the Umoja Peace Center, an incubator for social-justice activism, and BlackDot, which fosters African American business and art. Read More >

Developer, Nonprofits Reach Deal on Seattle’s MidTown Center Property

KNKX
May 24, 2017
A deal has been reached between the owners, a developer and two nonprofits on a valuable piece of property in Seattle’s Central District. Lake Union Partners has agreed to buy the old Midtown Center property on 23rd Avenue and East Union Street for $23.25 million. Read more >

Connelly: Does 23rd & Union Deal Signal Seattle as a Place ‘Everyone Can Live?’

Seattle PI
May 24, 2017
A land deal at 23rd & Union, longtime the heartland of Seattle’s African-American community, offers a ray of light in gloomy picture of housing for low-income residents in a city growing more and more expensive.  Read more >

Finally, a $23.25M deal — and plans for inclusive development — at 23rd and Union

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
May 24, 2017
It is a riskier bet than most $23.25 million land deals in Seattle. But new neighbors and longtime community members are probably happy to see real progress. Africatown, again in partnership with sustainability nonprofit turned in-city housing developer Forterra, will still be part of inclusive development component in the deal. And the buyers seem to know what they are doing. Read more >

MidTown Center Deal Emerges With 20% Africatown Stake

The Urbanist
May 24, 2017
The fate of much disputed MidTown Center may finally be decided. Lake Union Partners closed the deal yesterday on the coveted property with a $23.25 million bid. Moreover, the developer agreed to sell 20% of the parcel to the conservation non-profit Forterra who has partnered with Africatown with the shared goal of creating affordable spaces for homes and small businesses to ensure African Americans can continue to call this historically red-lined–and now red-hot–neighborhood home. Read more >

Unique affordable-apartment project aims to help residents stay in Central District

Seattle Times
May 23, 2017
Hoping to slow the displacement of residents from Seattle’s historically black Central District, local community groups are trying a new approach: teaming with developers to co-own a new apartment project affordable to low-income renters. Read more >

Development deal aims to save Seattle’s black community

Crosscut
May 23, 2017
The 2.5-acre plot on the southeast corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street in Seattle’s Central District — once a cornerstone of historic black Seattle and now a symbol of displacement and gentrification – has been purchased for just over $23 million. Read more >

Community Groups, Local Developers Band Together to Rebuild Heart of the Central District

The Stranger
May 23, 2017
After months of eviction protests, the future of MidTown Center is finally becoming clearer. Today, Seattle-based developer Lake Union Partners closed on a $23.3 million deal to purchase the historic 23rd Avenue South and Union Street block in partnership with Africatown and Forterra, a land conservation non-profit. Read more >

Africatown back on MidTown Center redevelopment team

Capitol Hill Times
May 23, 2017
It’s déjà vu at MidTown Center in the Central District, where once again Africatown Community Land Trust is situated to develop a portion of the 106,000-square-foot superblock. Read more >

Breakthrough at 23rd and Union will help sustain the historic Central District

Forterra
May 23, 2017
Innovative land deal for “most controversial block in Seattle” makes a mark for inclusion and affordability in Seattle’s rapidly-changing Central District. Forterra teams with Africatown, Lake Union Partners, and Yesler Community Collaborative to make it possible. Read more >

Developer buys Midtown Center, partners with African-American community on 550-apartment project

Puget Sound Business Journal
May 23, 2017
Nonprofits and developer Lake Union Partners are partnering on the redevelopment of one of Seattle’s last hubs of black-owned businesses.  Watch video >

Africatown, Forterra Part of Partnership to Redevelop Midtown Center

C is for Crank
May 23, 2017
Midtown Center—the property at 23rd and Union that has been the subject of an on-again, off-again debate about how to provide new housing in the Central District without economically displacing its remaining African American residents—has been sold to Lake Union Partners for $23.25 million. Read more >

Lennar and Regency have plans for housing, grocery at 23rd & Union

Daily Journal of Commerce
January 4, 2017
Tonight Lennar Multifamily Communities and Regency Centers will show their plans for the full block at 23rd and Union where a low-rise retail complex called MidTown Center now is located. Read more >

Community Pushes For Equity In 23rd & Union Development

The Urbanist
December 27, 2016
Everyone who cares about affordable housing and equitable, community-driven development should be paying attention to 23rd and Union in the Central District. The developments around that intersection showcase a variety of approaches to affordability, community involvement and equitable development. Read more >

Neighbors get first look at Midtown Center plans: big grocery, pharmacy, 120 affordable units

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
December 26, 2016
While the details of an agreement between developer Lennar Multifamily Communities, Regency Centers and Africatown Community Land Trust for the Midtown Center project are still being finalized, neighbors got their first looks at early designs for the development as it moves toward its first design review just a few days into 2017. Read more >

Shopping center developer in deal to buy 23/Union block with Africatown as partner — UPDATE

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
December 21, 2016
Echoing a framework for “inclusive development” forged across the street where Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable Liberty Bank Building is slated to rise, the developers behind a project planned to bring a seven-story, 400-plus-unit project to 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center say they are working on a deal with Central District community nonprofit Africatown that will give the organization an ownership stake in the project. Read more >

Africatown Organizers See Opportunity With Liberty Bank Site

The Urbanist
October 19, 2016
Central District residents filed into Washington Hall auditorium on Monday to hear about four mixed-use projects and focus on maximizing the community’s benefit from each. The event was named Imagine Africatown Update after the grassroots Africatown campaign that has emerged around Black empowerment in Seattle. Read more >

Soul of CD: Africatown

KCTS9
September 8, 2015
A look into the Central District community of Africatown and its recent developments. Watch video >

Hacking Gentrification

Ignite Seattle
April 2, 2015
What does it mean to hack a neighborhood? To maintain culture and community as your city and environment changes around you? K. Wyking Garrett spoke at Ignite Seattle 26 on Hacking Gentrification in the Central District. Watch video >

Central District business owners fight to save enclave of black-owned businesses

KIRO 7
February 27, 2015
Donald King of the Union Street Business Owners Association says that black-owned businesses are disappearing from the Central District.  “Not only does that erase, actually, businesses and residents but it begins to erase the actual history and heritage,” said King. Watch video >

The State of Africatown

City of Seattle
January 27, 2015
Africatown Center for Education & Innovation presents a vision for Africatown at the African American African Diaspora Gathering with Mayor Ed Murray at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Watch video >

Could Seattle’s ‘Africatown’ be the next Motown?

Techstars
December 7, 2014
As a millennial that grew up in Detroit, its hard for me to imagine a time before Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, or Michael Jackson. Berry Gordy’s frustration with pop culture pushed him to create one of the most successful African­-American owned and operated businesses in the U.S. Read more >

It’s time to create a new Motown for young urban technologists

GeekWire
September 20, 2014
I was born 30 years too late to experience Motown in its heyday. Nonetheless, as a young boy growing up in Detroit, I benefited from a city known as the mecca of music where homegrown talent discovered in the least likely of neighborhoods became icons of American pop culture. Read more >

Changes in the Central District Affect the African-American Community

Seattle Magazine
March 2014
When Mount Calvary Christian Center pastor Reggie Witherspoon was growing up in the Central District in the 1960s and ’70s, the neighborhood was tight-knit and largely African-American. But today, it’s another story. “It’s radically different,” he says. Read morSEATTLE — The majority of Seattle City Council is now backing proposals to defund Seattle’s police department by 50%, despite concerns from the mayor’s office and Seattle’s police chief that council members are moving too quickly and without enough widespread community engagement.

A coalition called Decriminalize Seattle presented a plan to the budget committee to redirect millions from the city budget to community organizations.