Maia Shanklin Roberts, POAH vice president of real estate development, talks to residents about Barry Farm.
Maia Shanklin Roberts, POAH vice president of real estate development, talks to residents about Barry Farm.

Progress is being made on the Barry Farm redevelopment according to leaders of the organizations reinventing the Ward 8 neighborhood located in Southeast D.C.

Forty residents gathered at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center on the campus of St. Elizabeths East on Aug. 9 to hear leaders of the Barry Farm effort talk about the latest developments. The meeting was convened by the 8C advisory neighborhood commission (ANC).

“A lot of residents aren’t aware of the development process,” said Salim Adofo, chairman of 8C ANC.

Barry Farm is located east of the Anacostia River and bounded by the Southeast Freeway to the northwest, Suitland Parkway to the northeast and east, and St. Elizabeths Hospital to the South. The neighborhood was founded as a post-Civil War settlement for Blacks established by the Freedmen’s Bureau. In the 1940s, the neighborhood became the site for Barry Farm Dwellings, built by the National Capital Housing Authority. The preceding decades saw Barry Farm become more populated with impoverished residents.

However, in 2006, the District government came up with a proposal—the Barry Farm, Park Chester, Wade Road Development Plan—that was designed to upgrade the living standards of the neighborhood in conjunction with the Barry Farm Advisory Committee to “create a vibrant mixed-income neighborhood where residents have quality housing options, real economic opportunities and access to appropriate human services for children and adults.”

In 2013, the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the District of Columbia Housing Authority and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development launched a New Communities Initiative for Barry Farm. Residents created a Planned Urban Development (PUD) for Barry Farm. In 2014, the District’s zoning commission approved the Barry Farm PUD. In subsequent years, plans were made to relocate Barry Farm residents when development was completed, and the first phase of construction started in November 2020. On September 26, 2022, POAH, the lead developer of Barry Farm, broke ground on the first building of the project: The Asberry, named after the late Asberry Sanker Jr., a leader in the neighborhood.

POAH Informs Residents

Maia Shanklin Roberts works as the vice president of real estate development for POAH. She served as the main speaker on the Barry Farm development.

“We want to make sure we have quality conversations on what is going on at Barry Farm,” Roberts, 38, said. “I know that some of you are interested in moving into the neighborhood and you are concerned about housing status. In the future, we will talk about people’s individual agendas, but not today.”

Evan Watson, who works for POAH and is the design construction project manager for Barry Farm, said The Asberry will have 108 affordable homes for seniors, noting that it is specifically tailored for residents 55 and older. He said 77 of the units will be designated for former Barry Farm residents and noted the facility will feature 5,096 square feet of retail space, a landscaped courtyard, a wellness room, a fitness center, a community room, and a rooftop amenity space. 

Watson, 42, said each floor will have a laundry room with coin machines. 

Roberts said The Asberry is scheduled to be open in the summer of 2024. She also noted that the neighborhood’s second building will start construction in the fall.

“Development takes a long time,” she said. “Each building has to be planned and designed. Construction on each building takes about two years. We will work simultaneously on these projects.”

Roberts said the next meeting with community members will likely take place in November as the second building takes shape and a clearer picture emerges as to the direction of the project’s construction. She said the goal is to complete Barry Farm construction by 2030.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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