About Us – Liberty Bank Building
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About Us

A partnership between four long-standing community organizations

The partners behind the redevelopment of the Liberty Bank site are a group of not-for-profit organizations that hold the interests of the community at heart. At a time of rapid change in the neighborhood, we are committed to ensuring that this project lifts up the spirit and vibrancy of the Central District


(Left to right) Evelyn Thomas Allen, BCIA; Wyking Garrett, Africatown; Andrea Caupain, Byrd Barr Place; Kevin Dawson Jr., Byrd Barr Place;

Jaebadiah Gardner, Onpoint Real Estate; Jill Fleming, Community Roots Housing. 

Our commitment to the community

The project partners recognized the unique opportunity to redevelop the Liberty Bank site, and they approached it as a chance to demonstrate how a community can have a say in how it grows and changes. The partners signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide the development of the project.

Design a building that connects with the history of the community.

The project partners will ensure that the building design both appropriately memorializes its history as Liberty Bank and is representative of African American design sensibility.

Prioritize local and minority hiring.

Community Roots Housing will work with the project partners as well as other community partners to identify Black-owned subcontractors. The project will also recognize the goals of the City of Seattle’s “priority hire” program.

Develop and support Black-owned businesses.

The Community Roots Housing Foundation will commit $5,000 per year for three years to help establish a business innovation fund to support small, Black-owned business development in the Central Area.

Secure long-term African American ownership of the building.

Community Roots Housing will develop a partnership with Byrd Barr Place and Africatown that provides the opportunity for African American community-based ownership of the building. Byrd Barr Place will have both a right of first offer and first right of refusal to acquire Liberty Bank after 15 years.

Reaffirm the Central District as a hub of the pan-African community.

Community Roots Housing will work with Byrd Barr Place and Africatown to affirmatively market available rental units to members of the community that have been historically disenfranchised and displaced by past and present policies/practices. Community Roots Housing will work with the partners to program activities in the building in ways that maximize activation of the building and are reflective of community priorities. Community Roots Housing will further work with partners or other organizations to develop or facilitate access to services that provide a pathway to home ownership, business ownership, and wealth building.

Explore further policy changes.

The partnership recognizes that one building is not enough to address the growing issue of displacement in the Central District. The project partners will work with the City of Seattle to explore policies that allow for the prioritization of displaced families and individuals in publicly financed affordable housing.

Diversify Community Roots Housing

Community Roots Housing strives to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves. As Community Roots expands its work in the Central District, it will continue its commitment to diversifying the Community Roots Housing Board and staff, as recognized in recent hires and appointments as well as ongoing training.

Honoring the legacy of Liberty Bank

In order to honor the history of this location, Community Roots Housing (formerly Capitol Hill Housing) convened an advisory board that included daughters of the original founders, a former executive director of the bank, long-time community members, leaders in the Central Area, and religious leadership to advise on how to tell the story of Liberty Bank through art, historic documents, and architecture.

In this regard, the project partners are indebted to Joquelyn Duncan, Derryl Durden, Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, Merle Richlen, George Staggers, and Pastor Witherspoon, who together represent a cross-section of Central District leadership and a link to the history of Liberty Bank. Their involvement was critical to ensuring that the legacy will be remembered and appropriately honored.

The advisory board’s final recommendations, released in May 2015, were integrated into the final design.

Read the recommendations of the Liberty Bank Advisory Board