Housing Complex

What Does Lincoln Heights’ Struggle Portend for Barry Farm?

A development meeting at Barry Farm last year drew protests.

A development meeting at Barry Farm last year drew protests.

The slow pace of the development of the former Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg public housing complex in what's now the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood has been the source of much frustration for some former residents. The 707 public housing units torn down in the mid-2000s were supposed to have been replaced by now with an equal number of affordable units in new mixed-income buildings, but even with the recent announcements of two new projects there, the neighborhood will still be more than 100 units short of the target.

Still, the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment looks like a model of efficiency next to Lincoln Heights.

As Robert Samuels chronicles in an in-depth story in the Washington Post, the effort to redevelop the public housing complex in Deanwood, launched in 2005 at the urging of then-Councilmember Vince Gray, has stalled out. Of the 440 low-income families there who were supposed to have been placed in new housing by now, only 32 are actually living in replacement housing. The Lincoln Heights overhaul isn't coming through the same program as the Capper/Carrollsburg project—the latter received funding from a federal Hope VI grant, while the former is being carried out through the local New Communities Initiative—but the overall goal is the same: to turn rundown public housing into a mixed-income community without displacing the low-income residents.

Why hasn't Lincoln Heights gone the way city leaders and residents had hoped? Basically, because developers aren't interested. Unfair though it may be, the ability of low-income residents of projects like Lincoln Heights to return to modernized housing depends on the ability of developers to attract higher earners to the neighborhood. New Communities projects have to include market-rate housing, and Lincoln Heights isn't exactly in an area that developers (or their financiers) see as a top destination for better-heeled Washingtonians. It's not Metro-accessible; it's far from the development hotspots of H Street and NoMa and Capitol Riverfront and the Northwest quadrant; there aren't any sit-down restaurants or supermarkets nearby; and the neighborhood is mostly poor. So it's languished.

Two of the three other New Communities projects, Temple Courts and Park Morton, likewise haven't quite taken off, but at least they hold out more promise in this regard. Temple Courts is sandwiched between downtown and NoMa, where high-end development is taking place at a furious pace. Park Morton is just a few blocks from the Petworth Metro station, around which residential and retail development has also been booming.

So how about the fourth New Communities project, Barry Farm? The D.C. Housing Authority selected a team in July to redevelop the public housing complex just southwest of Anacostia. Unlike Temple Courts and Park Morton, Barry Farm isn't surrounded by new development. Historic Anacostia is starting to receive some attention from developers and middle-income residents, but closer to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and Good Hope Road, a good mile from Barry Farm. Likewise, the city is taking steps to redevelop the St. Elizabeths campus, but development is likely to begin in the section near the Congress Heights Metro station, more than a mile away. For now, Barry Farm remains one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

Still, it's very close to the Anacostia Metro station, so developers could see potential there. The question is whether they'll be able to finance and build market-rate housing that'll attract middle-income residents to a poor neighborhood. We should learn more this year about how much traction the project has. If it can't get moving, we may have another Lincoln Heights on our hands.

Photo by Aaron Wiener

  • Typical DC BS

    Gee, wonder why nobody with a job and brains wants to live near a large population of low-income residents? HMMMMM. Let's think hard about that.

  • er uh

    In NYC folks already do.

    heck, people with good incomes live within a couple of blocks of the low income concentration in Truxton. Some even live IN Truxton.

    No one wants to live in Lincoln Heights cause its not close to anything desirable - not near another good neighborhood, not near amenities, not near metro.

    Barry Farms is right near a metro station, and walking distance to Nats Park. And river views, I guess. May not command Logan Circle rents (and its not like Logan has no subsidized units) but probably will appeal to some folks with jobs and incomes.

  • Darin

    Barry Farms is very close to the Sheridan Station development, too. It is a mixed-income development with Hope VI funding. It had lots of buyer interest and is sold out. (The developer has broken ground on the last phase of the project.) So, it should serve as an indication of what development near the metro can attract. I speak as someone buying one the market-rate condos.

  • Alice

    @Typical DC BS:

    I not only have a job, but a career, as well as brains, and I live near a low-income population. That's because my self-worth doesn't depend on my location. I got my house for a song, which allows me to do other things than just sit in my house and wish I could afford to do something else. Travel, for instance.

    Just my two cents.

  • noodlez

    GET 'EM ALICE!

  • teetee

    Duh!!! Lincoln Height is Metro-accessible. A matter of fact there are bus stops in the Lincoln Heights area and it is very close to Benning Rd Metro Station (walking distance). Also there are a lot of nice single family homes around Lincoln Heights. Lincoln Height should be remove from the area altogether. Where did the writer get his info? google map.

  • PG2SE

    Hear, hear, Alice! I couldn't agree more with your comments. Purchasing east of the river got me a nice house w/ a nice-sized yard and still money left over to travel, eat at any of DC's nice, new restaurants, and fully fund my retirement. I'm very happy w/ my choice.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Alice: Try reading the article. It's about developers not building because of those demographics and the requirements that mandate market-rate housing units be mixed in with Section 8 residents. NOBODY will build this that wants to make money.

  • PG2SE

    @Typical DC BS:
    1. Her response was to your comment, not directly to the article.
    2. Like your first comment, your second comment is equally as clueless. William C Smith is a developer that, as Darin pointed out, has a mixed income development right next to Barry Farm on the opposite side of Suitland Pkwy. Some of the residents of the subsidized rentals there are actually former Barry Farm residents. It's currently sold out and has a waiting list for its upcoming phase.

    Just b/c mixed income communities are not your cup of tea doesn't mean everyone else feels the same.

  • http://www.lorenzoward8.com Anthony Lorenzo Green

    What I want most is more homes to be built in Ward 8. We have a serious home ownership problem.

  • Sylvia C Brown

    I was a civic association president and ANC Commissioner in the thick of things. I am so disappointed, saddened and angered to read the despair coming off the page from the agency heads in the WashPo article.

    LH & Greater Deanwood are surrounded by three Metros not to mention criss-crossed by numerous bus lines and access to major thoroughfares. Shoot, the addition of the X9 has to mean something.

    To answer WCPs question, though, the LH struggle portends nothing. The LH struggle proves, at least to me, that it takes more than plopping down new stuff to attract new people and give hope to current residents. What the city and the once promised powerful W7 triumvirate--Gray, Alexander, & KBrown--have not done is support and force policies that would give hope to current residents and attract new people. It made

    -- no sense for Gray and Alexander, DMPED, & OP to allow ANOTHER liquor store to get a permit two years ago at the entry to the city on Sheriff Rd. There were already seven "serving" the community and that's not counting the two or three across the street in PG, Md
    -- no sense for agencies not to use eminent domain (or the threat) to get churches to let go of adjoining vacant lots next to them
    -- no sense not to proactively catalyze the numerous planning documents completed for the area, instead of waiting for "market-based forces"
    -- no sense to forget about the Capitol View project at East Capitol & Eastern
    -- no sense not to create a niche around the green infrastructure in the area--cleaned Watts Branch, Marvin Gaye Park, 2011 Solar Decathlon net-zero homes, new HD Woodson HS

    I know I could list a lot of other policies that neighbors and I worked on and emphasized. However, I'm no longer an ANC Commissioner, and I no longer live there. Good luck and God bless to neighbors still trying to get things done. I pray the agency heads and whomever is elected the next Mayor will do the hard work of addressing policy needs instead thinking market forces are the only solution.

    SCBrown
    ANC-7C04 (~09-12)

  • http://www.kevinbradleyrealtor.com/ Shailney Nikloay

    When the housing market is going through one of its worst phase such incidents things should be avoided. The issue should be handle with utmost care.

  • Jasmine

    They should renovate Barry Farms just like renovated Highland Dwellings. To many families will be displaced if they tear the complex down.

  • Frank

    GET OUT!!!

  • chris lee

    "Gee, wonder why nobody with a job and brains wants to live near a large population of low-income residents? HMMMMM. Let's think hard about that."

    Do I want to live near delinquent children? People who hang out on street corners ALL day? Unruly people?

  • LMT

    I just purchased a home in Lincoln Heights/Deanwood because I wanted to reinvest in DC and I wanted the bang for my buck. I want to have a great quality of life instead of being house poor. I am a professional and lived in fairfax, Va for 17 years and there just as many children who populate the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center as in DC.

    Lincoln Heights is being revitalized by investors who are refurbishing homes and attracting professionals like me who are tired of paying for over priced homes and having to commute to the District to enjoy the amenities.

    As I mentioned before I lived in the DC area for 17 years, I have witness the gentrification of U Street, Thomas Circle, Anacostia, Barry Farm and H Street. Lets not for get Trinidad in 2000, where there use to be policy jump out every 15 minutes, and today it is one of the most desirable neighborhood in the city. So don't be so quick to judge. Many of you are probably transients any way, who either live in in VA or have no plans to purchase in DC. It appears, Mr. Lee and Typical DC BS that you never lived in an urban environment and may need to return to rural or small town America to remain homogenic populations with no diversity, small minds and limited worlds.

    By the way, Benning Road Metro is less than a half mile. I like my ne

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