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Rainier Beach Action Coalition reaches milestone in its proposed Food Innovation Center

Adrian Florez

A decade ago in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood, the community got together and asked: What could we build to make this neighborhood better? 

The answer was a Food Innovation Center.

Now 10 years later, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, or RBAC, is moving forward on purchasing land, with funding support from a $2.1 million grant from the City of Seattle.

Gregory Davis, RBAC’s managing strategist, says the city’s funding is the result of many years of community advocacy.

“It didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s been some folks … just trying to seek equity, trying to seek social justice for years,” Davis said. “And when resources come into the city, we want them directed towards equity and social justice.”

Davis says RBAC will continue to seek input from the community before offering specific visions for the space. Some early ideas include having industrial kitchens, cold storage for local people of color farmers, and a gathering space for the community. It also will leverage the nearby Rainier Beach Urban Farm.

The funding from the city is part of an effort to invest in neighborhoods that are at high-risk for community displacement. The need in these neighborhoods is exacerbated by the public health crisis that disproportionately impacts communities of color, says Sam Assefa, director of the Office of Planning and Community Development. 

“We are in an incredibly unprecedented time obviously, from an economic crisis perspective,” Assefa said. “But it’s also a transformative time, not only because of COVID, but also the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Assefa says the grant money awarded came out of a $15 million sale of underutilized city property in South Lake Union.