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5 Council Candidates Urge Mayor Bowser to Acton Affordable Housing at Wardman

Wardman Hotel Strategy Team


Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Five candidates for the DC City Council, three running in Ward 3 and two at-large, have signed-on in support of the March 5 letter to Mayor Bowser urging her to redeem her challenge to Ward 3 for 1,990 new affordable housing units by 2025 by using the powers of her office and the city’s

robust finances to bring many more affordable units to the former Wardman Hotel in Woodley Park. The candidates are: Ben Bergmann, Monte Monash and Diedre Brown from Ward 3 and Dexter Williams and Lisa Gore, at-large. They were responding to requests by the Wardman Hotel

Strategy Team (WHST) at a community discussion of the Wardman on Saturday at the Cleveland Park Library. At the meeting, candidate Ben Bergmann said the Wardman developer “came in with the bare minimum that is not responsive to any of the [community] ‘asks’,” and that “incentives are not a panacea we’ve been led to believe; we also have to think of penalties for not doing what the community needs.”

A somewhat different point-of-view was expressed by Ward 3 candidate Monte Monash. “I do believe the train has left the station [for the Wardman], however, I don’t agree all is lost.” She added that “density for affordable housing is a must [and that] we’re gonna spread it throughout

the Ward and our main-street corridors are the perfect place for that to happen.”

At-large candidate Lisa Gore gave a shoutout to Wardman housing advocates. “I think you guys are doing the right thing…keep pressing Carmel” [Wardman owners]; “keep pressing the developers.” As a Ward 4 resident, she added “we have to increase density” west of the [Rock Creek] Park. Deirdre Brown, running in Ward 3, stressed “that the units we’re bringing-in be large enough for families.”

The WHST letter to Mayor Bowser points out that only 72 out of 900 units planned by Carmel Partners will be affordable, a drop-in-the-bucket toward meeting the Mayor’s goal for Ward 3. The Mayor can offer tax abatements and other financial assistance, exercise eminent domain (as was just done for a new Ward 7 supermarket) and order her Office of Planning (OP) to reverse its decision against conducting Large Tract Review (LTR). OP decided against a LTR, declaring the Wardman site to be less than three acres, which contradicts the owner’s filings that say it covers 9.5 acres.

Several candidates also said they supported the proposal by the new Northwest Opportunity Partners CDC (NWOP) to acquire from Carmel, with city financing, the stand-alone part of the hotel building on Calvert Street by a community land trust and to use it for affordable housing.

Previously, at the Cleveland Park Citizens Association forum on April 7, Phil Thomas and Tricia Duncan said they also are for more affordable housing at the Wardman. “The city has to bring the developers to the table to impress them to increase the affordable housing,” Thomas advocated. Duncan said, “change our zoning … so that these developers make better projects,” adding, “I would like to see [us] bear down on Carmel and say you ‘gotta do this’ because the way it is now is terrible, but it could be awesome.”

A transcript of the April 23 Wardman Vision Community meeting will be made available.

Contact Gail Sonnnemann

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