Discussions on historic designation of Barry Farm continue into next year
The D.C. Housing Authority and the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association provided progress reports to the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board at a Dec. 5 hearing, as requested at the last hearing concerning historic landmark designation of Barry Farm Dwellings in Southeast D.C.
The Historic Preservation Office has fostered negotiations between the parties involved and done additional research by going back to the Barry Farm site to observe the buildings, the landscape and its visual connections to greater D.C. According to David Maloney, D.C. State Historic Preservation Officer, there has been significant progress in negotiations between the DCHA and BFTAA, but further discussion is needed to reach a resolution. “We’ve gotten almost to where I think we need to be, but not quite,” Maloney said.
DCHA attorney Cynthia Giordano said the request made by Historic Preservation Office staff for more time would be constructive for negotiations. “We would welcome the opportunity to continue to work with staff to hone our proposal,” Giordano said. “We will certainly continue to work with the [BFTAA] on an agreement.”
Anthony Waddell, a representative for DCHA’s chosen developer, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc., presented updated site concept plans to create a “cultural district” at Barry Farm that he said would tie the development into The Anacostia Heritage Trail.
According to Waddell, vice president for real estate development of the mid-Atlantic region, POAH collaborated with the District Department of Transportation on planned alterations to the street grid that he said would better regulate traffic throughout the community. The goal of these changes was to improve safety, according to Waddell, who said the plans were created in consultation with Maloney and with additional input from the community.
“So when you talked to [the District Department of Transportation] about the street grid, did they realize there was historical significance to it?,” asked Historic Preservation Review Board Member Outerbridge Horsey. “That street grid has been there since 1867 and I didn’t hear anything from the community about how it was unsafe or anything like that, so did DDOT know?”
“I can’t speak for DDOT,” Waddell responded.
“Well let’s assume the answer is ‘no,’” Horsey said.
Parisa Narouzi, executive director of the advocacy group Empower D.C., which organized the BFTAA, told the review board that POAH and DCHA did as little as possible in the site concept plans. “We’ve been in a very difficult position because we were basically told, ‘If the Board designates the area you’ve applied for, this is going to be appealed,’” Norouzi said.
“This process has been unbelievable,” added BFTAA Vice President Paulette Matthews. “From day one, ever since this redevelopment effort came to place, it was more like they came in with an agenda, and it wasn’t going to change.”
The Board decided that although more time is necessary for deciding a boundary, they aren’t looking for further assistance from the two parties. “You all have negotiated for a really long time. I’m not expecting magic to happen in another two months,” said Marnique Heath, who chairs the Historic Preservation Review Board. “What I believe in is that [the review board] can work with the [State Historic Preservation Office] staff to figure out the appropriate boundary by that time.”