By Brianna Rhodes, Special to the AFRO
Plans for the redevelopment of the Barry Farms neighborhood may be rerouted following the recent news of the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) decision, Oct. 3, to support the idea of the area becoming a designated historic landmark.
Considering the community’s significance to D.C.’s African-American history, the review board sided with the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association (BFTAA) about the current plan not properly recognizing the neighborhood’s history. The national nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) planned to preserve only one property in the area, according to an article from East of The River.
Although the designation may affect the design process and layout created by POAH, the organization is still hopeful about creating an effective strategy that will rightfully honor the neighborhood’s legacy, while also providing affordable and healthy homes for new and returning residents.
Rendering of the seniors building in the Barry Farm redevelopment plan. (Courtesy Photo)
POAH has been working in collaboration with the New Communities Initiative program in order to encourage redevelopers for the neighborhood to provide homes for low and moderate income residents since 2013. POAH leaders, Anthony Waddell, the vice president of realty development for the mid-Atlantic region and Rodger Brown, the managing director of real estate for POAH spoke with the AFRO about the details of Barry Farms redevelopment and how the organization has been actively working with the community to create the best strategy to move the project forward.
“We are working on a solution and working with the historic preservation officer to commemorate the history of Barry Farms, which is very important, not only to D.C., but to the nation, in terms of what it represents to African Americans,” Waddell told the AFRO. “With that, we are working out a strategy around some type of physical nod to what is now the public housing area dwelling that is currently still there. So we will maintain one or more buildings on the site and we’re looking at a way to do that.”
POAH’s existing plan is to transform Barry Farms into a mixed-use, mixed-income community.
The area will offer 1,100 new affordable residential units for families of all sizes, including 480 replacement public housing units and around 200 will be for sale. New amenities and retail stores will be located in the area, such as grocery stores, business space, restaurants, a park, a community center, green space and much more, according to POAH.
One of the nonprofit’s main priorities is to also ensure the community a safe, healthy more eco-friendly environment for residents by designing buildings and using technology that will help save energy and water.
Brown said they will be cognizant of the materials that will be used in the buildings such as using low-VOC paint, uncarpeted floors, and updating heating, air conditioning, plumbing systems.
“It’s better for our clients and our partners,” Brown said. “It’s also better for the climate and it ultimately allows us to utilize our limited financial resources to preserve the buildings longer.”
POAH has received a lot of support from the community to ensure that Barry Farms will continue to preserve its culture, history and legacy in the District of Columbia.
Since the start of redevelopment, the team has met with many residents and members from organizations such as the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, area ANC’s, Anacostia Smithsonian Museum, Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association local businesses and more.
“We’re working on a very robust program, not only the physical buildings, but around the people,” Waddell said. “That’s an important thing you know, of course the history of Barry Farms, which includes Go-Go. Go-Go’s big in D.C. and it actually started in Barry farms so part of the cultural center we’re going to have at Barry Farms is to pay homage to Go-Go and its roots at Barry Farms.”
Both leaders, are looking forward to moving the redevelopment plan ahead so that families of Barry Farms will be able to return home as soon as possible.
“Each day that we are delayed through lawsuits, through landmark applications, that’s another day that our families are not in their neighborhood,” Brown said. “That’s a great disservice to them, because they moved out with the expectation that the site will be redeveloped and they’ll be back in their homes and their community.”
“That’s front and center in our minds since we deal with the landmarking process and the rest of the public procedures that we have to go through in order to get approval to redevelop this site,” he added. “We’re focused on the fact that we need to bring our families back as soon as possible.”