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.
That corner has long been at the forefront of gentrification and displacement in the Central District, a historically black community. On that corner, the Midtown Center has been at the center of this for years, with multiple proposals for development on the block coming and going.
The long and storied tale of the Midtown block finally reached a satisfying ending back in May, when Africatown Community Land Trust, in partnership with sustainability nonprofit Forterra, entered a deal for 20 percent of the land. That was part of a $23 million purchase by Lake Union Partners.
On Wednesday, Africatown announced they’d partnered up with affordable housing developer Capitol Hill Housing to develop the parcel on the south end of the block and officially acquired the site on October 6. A $4.5 million loan from the Office of Housing aided with the purchase.
Capitol Hill Housing was already working with Africatown on the nearby Liberty Bank Building, which broke ground on Juneteenth.
The current vision for Africatown Plaza includes a seven-story, mixed-use building with up to 130 units of housing affordable to families making 30 to 60 percent of area median income, plus community spaces, including a rooftop deck. The project includes retail below.
Africatown is “exploring home ownership opportunities” at the site too, they said in a press release. “It’s time to reaffirm the many ways that Black lives matter—socially, culturally, and economically,” said Africatown president K. Wyking Garrett in a statement. “But for that to occur, ownership is crucial.”