In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the board selected Preservation of Affordable Housing, a non-profit developer that focuses on housing for low- and moderate-income residents, and A&R Development, based in Baltimore.
The developers are tasked with what may be one of the most difficult redevelopment projects in the city, overhauling the violence- and drug-plagued garden style apartment community into a mixed-income neighborhood that also includes new public housing units for Barry Farm’s existing residents.
Located in the poorest of the District’s eight wards, Barry Farm plays host to the George Goodman Basketball League in the summer, which has attracted big-name NBA stars like former Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas.
But in 2005, violence and blight at Barry Farm prompted the District government under then-mayor Anthony Williams to include it in the city’s New Communities initiative, in which the District aimed to redevelop some of the city’s most troubled public housing projects.
Seven years later little work has been completed. After countless community meetings with District officials, some residents testified before the D.C. Council in February that they were being asked to stay in units where there were rat and insect infestations. Others say they are afraid of moving out of their homes and being displaced. The plans prompted the filming of a documentary, “Barry Farm: Past and Present,” that chronicles the neighborhood’s history.
Both Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and A&R have experience in the District, with POAH having developed the Garfield Hill Apartments and A&R serving as a partner on multiple other projects, including one on East Capitol Street that is slated to include a Wal-Mart.
Along with its development partners, the housing authority plans to apply next year for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund the work.
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