This past weekend, a coalition of Black community groups in Seattle, Wash., commemorated Juneteenth with the ceremonial groundbreaking of a new affordable housing building project aimed at encouraging African-Americans to return to the city’s Central District.
Fittingly dubbed the Future Liberty Bank Building, the new real estate project will honor Seattle’s first Black-owned bank that once occupied a much smaller establishment right where the housing is set to be built, local station KUOW.org reported.
Andrea Caupain, CEO of Centerstone, one of the groups involved in the project told, the station the coalition is working to encourage Black residents who have been displaced or priced out of the neighborhood to move back, while still abiding by Seattle’s first-come, first-serve rental rules.
“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re only going to market to the African-American community or we will turn someone away who is not African-American,” Caupain said. “But, really, how do we dive deeper and go specific and target the African-American community, people who we know want to come back to the CD?”
The local CEO said the groups plan to market their goals to areas of the Black community where information regarding affordable housing has failed to reach city residents. She said the coalition also has reached out to local Black-owned businesses to help occupy Liberty’s many retail spaces.
“We’re looking at Black businesses that have been in the Central Area for a long time, that have a strong desire to stay in the community,” Caupain told KUOW. “We’re also looking at Black businesses that maybe were here before and had a desire to continue their business, but for various different reasons, including affordability, could not continue.”
On its website, the Liberty Bank Building development touts itself as an affordable housing and community empowerment project focused on creating a new standard for real estate in Seattle’s Central District. Local groups The Black Community Impact Alliance, Africatown-Central District Preservation and Development Association, Capitol Hill Housing and Centerstone all have a hand in the community-led effort to redevelop the area.
The new project promises to offer a number of advantages to residents, including support for Black-owned businesses, affordable commercial spaces for local businesses, a track to long-term Black ownership of the building and the prioritization of local and minority hiring.
Caupain said construction on the development is expected to begin later this summer.
Members of the coalition didn’t respond to requests for comment.