By Melissa Silveman
In a public session hosted by the DC Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on March 9, city officials recommitted to a build first strategy to limit displacement and relocation of current residents during the redevelopment of the 15-acre Greenleaf public housing site.
Greenleaf’s complex includes 493 units spread across 23 buildings in the area around M Street SW and Delaware Avenue SW. According to the DC Housing Authority, “all of the properties were built in 1959, are physically obsolete, and have high maintenance costs.”
A team led by Pennrose Properties, EYA, and Paramount Development will lead the redevelopment project. The DC Housing Authority estimates the redevelopment will eliminate $29 million in capital needs for repairs and updates at Greenleaf.
Greenleaf residents and local leaders, drawing on lessons learned from previous public housing redevelopment projects in the District, are working to ensure current residents are not displaced from their communities during the project and have focused on a “build first” approach to minimize moves and disruption for families currently living in Greenleaf homes.
Several nearby sites were considered where housing could be built prior to the launch of the Greenleaf redevelopment, but the sites proposed in initial plans fell through as a member of the development consortium initially selected by the city dropped off of the project.
At the March public session, led by DC Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chair Dionne Bussey-Reeder and attended by DC Housing Authority Executive Director Brenda Donald, the agency’s Senior Vice President, Office of Capital Programs John Stringfield delivered a presentation on the build first approach.
“We have a build first strategy on site,” Stringfield said. He shared slides indicating all moves will be within the Greenleaf campus and will be limited to one move per family. “Zero displacement,” Stringfield said. “No one will have to leave the community. We will have new, affordable quality housing and 100% replacement of existing units.”
The new build first plan centers around an approach to first redevelop the Greenleaf Senior building located at 1200 Delaware Avenue SW. Stringfield reported the building is approximately 50% vacant, and that construction will start in 2023 and end in 2025 with renovated units and new townhomes. The housing completed in the first phase will be used for relocation of other Greenleaf families during phases two through five of construction, which will run from 2025 through at least 2032.
The phased plan “meets the spirit and intent of the original build first strategy,” according to the presentation delivered by Stringfield on March 9.