June 16, 2023

GGLO offices will be closed on Monday, June 19 to honor Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, about 250,000 enslaved Texans learned that they had been free for more than two years following President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Their reactions to this news ranged from shock and fear to joy and gratitude. At its core, Juneteenth is a celebration of African American freedom and achievements. ⠀

In recognition of the monumental importance of Juneteenth, we are spending empowering and highlighting the following Black organizations that we work with: Africatown Community Land Trust, M.A.D. Construction, Wa Na Wari, and KBK Enterprises.

Africatown Community Land Trust

Africatown Community Land Trust promotes the cultural and economic vitality of people who are part of the African diaspora in the Greater Seattle region. Members of their board are comprised of real estate professionals, business executives, entrepreneurs, other professionals, and long-time community members from the Central District. The Africatown Community Land Trust acquires, develops, and maintains spaces where their community can grow and thrive. The work that they do is a necessary step in protecting the growth of Black families and culture in a historically gentrified area.

We have been working with them to design Africatown Plaza, a community-designed project that will serve as a base for families and communities that have been fragmented by displacement. The building will feature affordable housing, a community center, retail spaces, open plazas, and Africatown’s offices. The plaza focuses on creating opportunities to celebrate the history and identity of Seattle’s Black, African, and Pan African population. We celebrated the Africatown Plaza’s groundbreaking milestone earlier this year and its recent recognition from the Gold Nugget Awards where it received the On-the-Boards Affordable Housing Community Merit Award.

Wa Na Wari

Wa Na Wari is an immersive community art project that reclaims Black cultural space and emphasizes the importance of Black land ownership in gentrified communities. They have hosted artist talks, performances, and exhibitions; commissioned art essays by local Black leaders; and led art installations in the Central District area.

We have been working with them to update their offices in three phases. In Phase 1, the occupancy was changed so that the building could function as an art space; in phase 2, we were granted a building permit to incorporate accessibility upgrades to the front of the house and include a restroom; and in phase 3, it will include a design studio.

Our collaborative work with Wa Na Wari includes the Africatown Plaza. They are co-curating the art for the plaza, which will feature a variety of mediums from sculptures and paintings, to augmented reality and sound art. Their Call for Art celebrated creatives in the Central District by giving them an opportunity to shape the way people see the plaza, and how they hear, touch, feel, heal, embody, and embrace the plaza itself.

M.A.D. Construction

M.A.D. Construction is a general contracting firm with experience in construction, project management, and consulting. Formed by Kevin L. Young in 1999, the firm has built a strong reputation for excellent craftsmanship, efficient project management, and effective communication on residential and commercial projects.

In a joint venture with Absher Construction, M.A.D. Construction are co-leading the construction phase for the Africatown Plaza. In the fall of 2021, M.A.D. and Absher led community meetings to empower MWBE contractors and subcontractors and MWBE workers who were impacted by the project to apply to be involved with the project. In a podcast interview with Urban Forum Northwest, Kevin expressed that he and M.A.D. are working towards becoming the largest Black-owned contractor in the state and that he aims to work with other MWBE-owned firms on that journey.

KBK Enterprises

KBK Enterprises is one of the most successful Black-owned real estate development firms in the country—possessing a unique perspective regarding community development. The founder, Keith B. Key, grew up in the public housing communities of Pittsburg and created a company that sought to redevelop and revitalize neighborhoods by providing economic development opportunities to residents. KBK Enterprises shows a genuine commitment to affordable housing, minority business participation, and access to employment through their locally and nationally recognized projects.

We are working with KBK Enterprises to design 501 Compton, a mixed-use development that will serve the residents and innovators of Compton through its variety of residential units, colorful pedestrian plaza, and innovation hub. It is designed to foster innovation in technology, arts, and entrepreneurial concepts through learning labs, co-working spaces, and creative studio spaces. Last year, the project received a Westside Urban Forum award in In-Process/Unbuilt Mixed-Use category!