After years of planning, construction has begun on the Barry Farm redevelopment in Southeast D.C.
D.C. leaders broke ground Monday morning on the Asberry, a future senior living community on the site.
"The Asberry will deliver 108 fully affordable housing units for seniors people 55 years and older, with 77 of those units being replacement units for long-term residents," Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Located off Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, the Barry Farm has a rich history dating back to 1867 and the Freedman’s Village, where formerly enslaved African-Americans bought land and created a community after the Civil War.
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In the 1940s, D.C. built the Barry Farm Dwellings, a public housing development, which was home to thousands African Americans who moved to the city for war-related jobs.
But, as the years passed, Barry Farm fell into disrepair. The residents were relocated and the buildings demolished in 2019.
"Oh, yes! A day for celebration - Amen!" Bobbie Wills, who lived in the Barry Farm community for 32 years, said at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony.
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Wills said she raised her children and grandchildren at Barry Farm, and it was a sad day for her when she had to move out.
She plans to be one of the first to move back.
"Looking forward to coming back to my home: Ward 8," Wills said.
And the Asberry is just the beginning- just look at the architectural renderings.
Over the next several years, the New Communities Initiative at Barry Farm will transform the area, bringing restaurants and retail space as well as housing opportunities.
There will be about 900 affordable homes, including 380 public housing units, officials said.
Priority for housing will be given to the original residents of Barry Farm, many of whom came out to see the groundbreaking.
"It has its ups and downs but it’s my hood, and I’m from here. Born and raised and I’m glad to be from here," Justin Sanker said.
While crews demolished almost everything, a few of the original Barry Farm units are still standing. Officials said a long-term plan is still in the works, but they hope to preserve them as a piece of history.