PIDC plays key role in the development of ACANA’s Africa Center

by Lashay Smith
May 21, 2024

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Southwest Philadelphia’s Africatown is a thriving commercial and cultural corridor for the city’s booming immigrant populations from Liberia, Senegal, and other African and Caribbean countries. ACANA, the African Cultural Alliance of North America, is at the forefront of development in the community. The nonprofit recently started construction of the Africa Center, a social services and retail hub, and location of ACANA’s new headquarters at 55th Street and Chester Avenue. PIDC was proud to play an instrumental role in helping to structure an array of financing to make the project a reality.

ACANA Founder and CEO Voffee Jabateh has been envisioning a neighborhood revitalization in Africatown for over a decade, and the development of the Africa Center is a transformational project designed to attract jobs and spur investment in the community. The 37,000-square-foot space will act as a cultural, economic, and social epicenter, housing a community center, daycare, healthcare clinic, and a second location of Senegalese restaurant Kilimandjaro, with additional retail and office space. 

PIDC helped ACANA secure funding from public and private institutions totaling $22 million to bring the Africa Center to life. Funding includes:

  • $4.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit equity investments made through PIDC and Community First Fund, which was funded by Capital One
  • $3 million in various grants from the Philadelphia Commerce Department
  • $1.5 million loan provided by United Bank of Philadelphia
  • $9 million in PA Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program  (RACP) grants
  • $2.4 million in equity from Global City Regional Center LLC
  • $2 million in federal Community Project Funding dollars, with help from Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Pennsylvania 5th district representative. 
  • Temporary construction funding from Reinvestment Fund

“JNA Capital and Fattah Capital Advisors were pivotal in securing the necessary financing for ACANA with the strong support and collaboration of PIDC and other financial partners. Their strategic approach has been instrumental in bringing this long-awaited project to fruition. We deeply appreciate PIDC’s indispensable role in this exciting development, which will establish Philadelphia’s Africatown as a thriving cultural and geographic epicenter for the community.”

Voffee Jabateh
Founder & Executive Director, ACANA

“PIDC is incredibly proud to be a driving force, working with all parties and partners, in getting this complex financial transaction to the finish line—one that will help ACANA bring its vision for a thriving cultural, economic, and social community epicenter to life,” said Lawrence McComie, chief credit officer and senior vice president at PIDC.

Africa Center is at the center of Jabateh’s larger redevelopment goals—Dolakeh Square, which translates to “people rising together” in the indigenous Mano language spoken in parts of Liberia, where he was born. The neighborhood would be an official center of African culture in the city, with hopes that it could become a must-see tourist destination like Chinatown, bringing additional investment, businesses, and jobs to the community.  

“This project is demonstrative of PIDC’s commitment to place-based investment strategies to invigorate and revitalize Southwest Philadelphia, creating employment and growth opportunities for community residents and businesses,” said PIDC President Jodie Harris. “We look forward to the groundbreaking of this exciting addition to the community and thank Voffee Jabateh and Ahsan Nasratullah for their commitment to and investment in Philadelphia’s future ” 

“JNA Capital and Fattah Capital Advisors were pivotal in securing the necessary financing for ACANA with the strong support and collaboration of PIDC and other financial partners. Their strategic approach has been instrumental in bringing this long-awaited project to fruition. We deeply appreciate PIDC’s indispensable role in this exciting development, which will establish Philadelphia’s Africatown as a thriving cultural and geographic epicenter for the community,” said Voffee Jabateh, founder and executive director of ACANA.

Learn more about PIDC’s Financing Opportunities for Businesses

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