Push for Southwest Philly's Africatown to make strides this fall
The first major projects tied to the creation of Philadelphia's Africatown are set to begin.
Why it matters: Africatown, a neighborhood in Southwest Philly that's been in the works for more than 14 years, would give a name to an area long-established as a destination for African immigrants, Voffee Jabateh, CEO of the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA), told Axios.
- "It's been Africatown since almost 2005. It's just now being branded," he said of the hub of African restaurants and businesses.
Driving the news: ACANA, the nonprofit leading the Africatown effort, is expected to start work on its new headquarters on the 5400 block of Chester Avenue in November.
- The HQ, costing more than $16 million, will include a community center, banquet hall and health center. The nonprofit will also provide immigration and social services from the building.
- Plus: ACANA is in the process of acquiring an existing grocery store and land on the same block, which is part of a plan to develop much of the street.
Between the lines: Southwest Philly is home to a vibrant and growing African immigrant community, including those from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
- African immigrants were the fastest-growing group of foreign-born Philadelphians between 2000 and 2016, according to a study from Pew Charitable Trusts.
Details: Africatown would stretch from around S 47th Street and Baltimore Avenue to S 74th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, and include the Woodland Avenue business corridor, which is already known as "little Africa."
- The second phase of the plan for the block is expected to take two years and includes renovating the grocery store, building an office tower, and developing low-income housing.
- The 5400 block of Chester Avenue is expected to be known as Dolakeh Square, which means "people working together to achieve a shared goal" in the West African language of Mano.
- ACANA hopes to place an arch identifying Africatown around S 60th Street and Woodland Avenue.
What they're saying: Africatown would be the first of its kind and be a place where those from the African diaspora in the region can identify and connect with each other as a larger community, said Ahsan Nasratullah, president of JNA Capital Inc., a developing partner with ACANA on the project.
- "The project will become the launching pad to create that community connection," he said.
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