(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) broke ground on the first, on site building to be delivered under the New Communities Initiative at Barry Farm, a historically significant project for African Americans in Washington, DC. The Asberry, a mixed-use building with 108 units of affordable rental senior (55+) housing and approximately 5,000 square feet of commercial space, will be located on 1200 Sumner Road SE across from the Barry Farm Recreation Center.
“We are proud to be breaking ground on the first, on site building at Barry Farm,” said Mayor Bowser. “Today is a win for former Barry Farm residents and the District of Columbia because we are delivering on a promise dating back to the Williams Administration and we are committed to doing it in an equitable way, ensuring former Barry Farm residents benefit most from the redevelopment. In doing so, we honor the legacy of the founders of Barry-Farm Hillsdale and ensure our long-time residents have the opportunity to thrive in their beloved Barry Farm community.”
Barry Farm–Hillsdale was established in 1867 for formerly enslaved African Americans to own land and create a self-sustaining community after the Civil War. The community was made up of organizations and leaders who advocated for racial and economic justice. This legacy continued with Barry Farm Dwellings, a public housing community constructed in the 1940s. The goal of the latest redevelopment is to return Barry Farm back to its roots of African American ownership and strong community ties.
Barry Farm is one of four New Communities Initiative (NCI) projects, along with Lincoln Heights, Northwest One, and Park Morton. NCI is a District government program that dates back to Mayor Anthony Williams’ Administration designed to revitalize subsidized housing and redevelop neighborhoods into vibrant mixed-income communities.
The redevelopment of Barry Farm will begin with The Asberry in Phase I, with a total of 108 units. The Asberry, which will have replacement units for former public housing residents, will be 100 percent affordable, with 33 units at 30% of Median Family Income (MFI), 44 units at 50% MFI, 21 units at 60% MFI, and 10 Units at 80% MFI.
“Mayor Bowser did it,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “She did what many tried to do, which was bring hope, opportunities, and residents back to Barry Farm. The groundbreaking of the Asberry is the first step in making our goal a reality. The District has invested approximately $43 million to fund the first phase of Barry Farm and we are committed to ensuring former residents are able to return, benefit from the new opportunities, and thrive once Barry Farm redevelopment is complete.”
To date, DMPED has provided approximately $43 million in funding for the redevelopment of the first phase of Barry Farm. This funding covers infrastructure, predevelopment, and vertical construction costs. Of the $43 million, approximately $10 million will be used for the construction of The Asberry. The Mayor also signed the approval of the multifamily housing mortgage revenue bond for The Asberry of nearly $34 million today.
Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH) and District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) will serve as co-developers for the site redevelopment. Once completed, the new overall redevelopment of Barry Farm will be a vibrant mixed-income community that will include at least 900 new affordable rental and for-sale housing units, of which 380 will be public housing replacement units.
“The construction of The Asberry is the result of a collaboration between the residents of Barry Farm, the DC Housing Authority, the Ward 8 community, DMPED, and POAH,” said Rodger Brown, Managing Director of Real Estate at POAH. “We appreciate the opportunity to be part of this important affordable housing initiative.”
In 2015, DCHA sought and obtained approval to demolish Barry Farm and relocate residents in a way that minimized displacement. As of 2019, all residents had been relocated, and Barry Farm has been demolished, except for the five buildings that the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) landmarked.
“The DC Housing Authority is grateful to break ground on this long-delayed project,” said Executive Director Brenda Donald. “We look forward to welcoming back our seniors to this historic community.”
The entire Barry Farm redevelopment will be completed in 2030. With the ground breaking of the Asberry, the project is beginning the first phase of the redevelopment and will be completed in early 2024.