Advocates Call for TWO SITES/ONE PLAN in Friendship Heights Want Better Planning, Affordable Housing
Release February 17, 2023 Contact: Gail Sonnemann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-286-0845
In agency oversight testimony on February 15, Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) called on the District to leverage its regulatory and financial powers to create TWO SITES/ONE PLAN for Friendship Heights to prevent piecemeal development that does not serve broad community interests.
At this oversight hearing for the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) before the Council Committee on Business and Economic Development, W3HJ recommended that DMPED lead a proactive, collaborative planning effort to create a TWO SITES/ONE PLAN for the Lord & Taylor site and the current WMATA bus garage site on Wisconsin Avenue (and possibly including other sites, such as the ‘home plate’ site next to Lord & Taylor on Western Avenue). DMPED, working with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Office of Planning (OP), the Office of Zoning, WMATA, non-profits, advocates and the community (including the ‘should be community’ of historically excluded residents), can produce one overall plan that identifies the best use for each section of each site.
W3HJ proposes planning outcomes for the sites that
are beautiful and environmentally respectful,
meet the aspirations of the community,
address the concerns of the neighbors,
meet the needs of WMATA,
contribute to Mayor Bowser’s goal for 1990 units of new affordable housing in Ward 3 by 2025, and
contribute new life and vibrancy to Friendship Heights.
“Disappointing experiences elsewhere in RCW have shown us that this will not happen with the current site-by-site, piecemeal approach. We need TWO SITES/ONE PLAN in which the parties link the two sites in one broad, detailed plan that commits to all of the proposed planning outcomes and provides any needed funding to make it all happen. With the will and the plan, we can end up with a world-class, zero emission bus garage (with all-electric buses) and mixed use developments that add generous amounts of housing, including affordable and deeply affordable housing, as well as retail and other amenities that will contribute to the life of the community,” said Margaret Dwyer, Chair of W3HJ. “It would leave nothing to chance.”
“We have seen important sites like these, such as the Wardman in Woodley Park, go to private by-right development with little consideration for the neighborhood’s interests or the city’s need for truly affordable housing,” said Jayme Epstein, Woodley Park resident and W3HJ member. “ We don’t want to hear about another ‘missed opportunity.’ The time is now to declare that these sites represent a new day for Ward 3.”