Barry Farm Redevelopment Plans Move Forward

Hearing Scheduled for June

After being selected nearly a decade ago by Mayor Anthony Williams as one of four large-scale public housing units to be redeveloped into a mixed-income neighborhood, Barry Farm Dwellings may finally be turning a corner. In March the DC Zoning Commission approved a June 16 public hearing for First Stage Planning Unit Development. “The project is moving forward,” says Kimberly Black King, director of the New Communities Initiative. “The goal is to commence demolition and construction in 2016.”

The redevelopment of Barry Farm, covering more than 20 acres, could include 1,879 new mixed-income residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and 80,000 square feet of parks and open space. The new development would house residents of varying incomes in a mixture of residential units from apartments to condominiums to townhomes. “We are hopeful that the PUD [planned unit development] will be approved by this fall,” says Black King. “During this time we will be working with the development team to finalize the transformation plan that will be submitted to HUD [US Department of Housing and Urban Development] in response to the anticipated Choice Neighborhood Implementation Notice of Funds Available. The transformation plan will include all elements of the redevelopment, including identifying financing for the first phase and the timeline for which we expect that phase to be built.”

Public meetings last summer and fall, held to brief the community on the redevelopment process, were contentious. One of them excluded members of the media and activists living outside of the immediate neighborhood of Barry Farm. Despite the acrimony the partnership between the DC Housing Authority, A&R Development Corp., and the nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc. remains intact. With demolition optimistically planned to begin in 2016, the redevelopment schedule will begin to emerge as the city seeks public dollars and private financing.

“A set timeline is unrealistic because there are many factors … that will have to fall into place,” states Black King. “Therefore, setting a timeline for any development is always tentative. We prefer to have many of the moving pieces in place when we communicate a timeline to the community because we recognize that many of the community members and stakeholders do not have context of the overall development process and factors…. Without such context, delays or changes to timelines are often interpreted to mean a lack of commitment or priority.”

The Barry Farm/Wade Apartments Choice Neighborhood Initiative Steering Committee will have monthly meetings in May and June. Meetings are posted on the New Communities website at www.dcnewcommunities.org.

Barry Farm Recreation Center Update

While the redevelopment plan for Barry Farm moves along administratively, construction of a new $26.3 million recreation center on Sumner Road center is slowly nearing completion. An 8,800 square-foot enclosed natatorium, with a six-lane pool, common play area, water slide, and locker room is expected to open this fall according to John Stokes, chief of staff for the Department of Parks and Recreation. The complete recreation center facility and grounds, scheduled to open in the winter of 2014-15, will include a multi-purpose room, an exercise room, senior room, outdoor gymnasium, and a combination field that can accommodate soccer, football, and baseball. Access will be open to all residents of Ward 8 and the city.

“The new Barry Farm recreation center is part of an undertaking of unprecedented construction work in the history of parks and recreation in the east side of the city,” says Stokes. “In recent years a new Fort Stanton Recreation center has opened, the Bald Eagle Boxing Annex has been completed, $18 million has gone toward the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, and as part of ‘Play DC’ new playgrounds have been completed at Fort Greble, Oxon Run Park, and the Douglass Community Center Playground at the Ferebee Hope Recreation Center.” 


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