Some 30 business owners in Ward 8 recently took the opportunity to learn about the Barry Farm redevelopment.
The meeting, hosted by the District of Columbia Housing Authority, was the first held for the business community that would be affected by the redevelopment of the more than 40-acre site containing structures built more than 70 years ago. DCHA and the city have held numerous meetings updating the Barry Farm residents about the progress of the redevelopment, as well as how families can be successful planning for their futures during the process.
“Think of the redeveloped Barry Farm as a place for everybody,” said DCHA’s Chief Development Officer Kimberly Black King.
In addition to the agency’s policy to replace 344 units of public housing within the new development, there will be additional affordable and market rate homes – available to either rent or purchase, King said. Some 100 replacement units for the redevelopment have already been constructed at Sheridan Station and Matthews Memorial.
“Our mission is to provide affordable housing,” she said. “We want to produce more affordable housing so we can help more District families stay in the city.”
King explained to the business owners that the federal subsidy given to the agency is a flat calculation that has been the target of budget cuts from Congress for years. The lack of funds has led to the inability to properly manage all of DCHA’s capital projects within its portfolio. DCHA estimates it needs more than $1 billion to return its properties to 20-year viability.
“Nationally, there are $30 billion in repairs that need to happen across the country’s public housing properties,” King said. “Couple that with the fact that Barry Farm structures weren’t built to last 70 years. They were built as temporary structures.”
The property, which was first included in the city’s redevelopment plan in 2006, went through an extensive planning process thanks to a Choice grant in 2012. A master plan and parameters were developed based on multiple community planning sessions. Up to 1,400 units were approved by the Zoning Commission in 2014, King said.
In addition to housing that will last for future generations, the plans include a park, 11 new streets to add connectivity, a widened Sumner Road full of retail spaces, and 16 live-work spaces.
King detailed the sensitivity DCHA and the city are taking in developing a relocation plan that fully supports residents who must move from the site in the coming year in order for construction to begin . In addition to the many community meetings, she explained that case management for each family would take into account their particular needs such as proximity to schools or medical providers as part of their relocation plan. The case managers also will assist families in making a choice on which path they want to pursue, be it moving to another public housing community, using a voucher on the private market, or purchasing a home.
“No one will be homeless because of this redevelopment,” she said.
The community recently voted on which segments of the population—such as seniors or who moved out last—they believe should move back first, she said. When the time comes, some families may choose to stay where they are, but all residents in good standing are welcome back, she said.
Business owners expressed interest in learning more about opportunities they will have to grow their companies and work with the redevelopment team in the future. They also expressed interest in working with neighboring construction projects to create more options for job growth in the area.
“There is a lot going on here that we can be creative about,” King said. “We are open to that in future discussions.”