The Africatown project is reportedly planned to extend from South 47th Street and Baltimore Avenue to South 74th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard and will include the Woodland Avenue business corridor.
Ultimately, the organization said it hopes Africatown “can become a ‘tourist destination’ for the global African diaspora and other interested individuals” in a neighborhood that has historically been home to a large African and Caribbean immigrant community.
Harris said he believes this project is “extremely important” given the diversity represented in Southwest Philadelphia, and that he sees the project as necessary to increase business, develop a greater sense of community and a range of provide services in the region.
“I felt it was extremely important to understand the diversity that we have in this part of the city of Philadelphia. We need this… All of this will be transformative. Not only will it change this part of town, but it will be something that people from all over the city and quite honestly from all over the world will come to see Philadelphia. That’s why it’s important that we do that.”
For his part, Williams said it is a great moment to see the Africatown project take off, adding that there are a variety of ways this concept will benefit the Southwest Philadelphia community.
“One area that is sometimes overlooked is developing now, a population of Africans and African Americans will now have a place where we can learn about each other’s history and economy, obviously (it will) help the community not just even out , but to grow, not through gentrification, but actually for people who live here. So it’s a great moment on different levels,” he said.
At the end of the day, Williams said he had very high hopes for the sense of community such a project could inspire in surrounding neighborhoods.
“(My hope is) that all of us, who have hoped for generations that we can understand where we came from, (can) know about our brothers and sisters instead of feeling the tension and frustration that leads to violence. (I hope) that we can see some level of connectivity that will lead to a much more peaceful existence in our community.”
Alec Larson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.