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AB Studios, a community innovation and resource hub, to open in Durham’s Walltown {WRAL - TechWire}

by Amy Huffman — September 26, 2018

DURHAM – In the heart of Durham’s historically African-American Walltown neighborhood just north of Duke University’s East Campus, a non-descript, white-painted brick building with a rich and varied history will soon be the city’s newest entrepreneurship and innovation hub—AB Studios.

The project is the latest brainchild of Talib Graves-Manns, the serial entrepreneur, Black Wall Street co-founder, first Entrepreneur in Residence at American Underground, and former Executive Director of Raleigh’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.

AB Studios will be a community hub and house programs designed to build skills and knowledge about entrepreneurship, technology, business management, and home ownership and retention. To accelerate AB Studios launch, Graves-Manns is seeking support from the community through a $25,000 crowd-funding campaign launched on Sept.13th on DirectlyTo, a crowdfunding website founded by Graves-Manns high school classmate, Alvin Kennedy, that specializes in directing funds to non-profits and tax-deductible projects. Any funding raised will help fund renovations, equipment, and the programs the building will house.


Built circa 1930, the building at 1307 Knox Street spent most of its years as the neighborhood grocery and butcher shop, “Knox Street Grocery.” In the 1990’s, however, it became the backdrop for many of the criminal acts that plagued the community.

To combat the crime, Self-Help purchased and partnered with Duke to renovate the building in 1999, leasing it to local ministries and workforce development groups since. In early 2018, Self-Help released an RFP to sell the building to a buyer who would “use it in a community-serving manner befitting of its history and consistent with its zoning designation.”

Once he learned of the opportunity, Graves-Manns wrote a proposal and presented it to Self-Help and the community at the local church, St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church. With approval from members of the community, Graves-Manns proposal was selected and he was granted the opportunity to purchase the building.

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