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Affordable Housing in Ward 3: It's not too late to make a deal at the Wardman Hotel

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Ward 3 Housing Justice | Wardman Hotel Strategy Team


Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Dear Mayor Bowser,

As strong advocates committed to meeting your goal of 1990 units of affordable housing

in Ward 3, we are writing to urge you to pick up the phone to Carmel Partners’ CEO,

Ron Zeff, and strike an innovative deal to create a substantial amount of affordable

housing and community services at the Wardman Hotel before Carmel announces its

plans for the site. With your prestige and high visibility, you can still realize huge gains

for affordable housing by bringing in additional partners such as Amazon’s Housing

Equity Fund, Pacific Life’s Social Impact Sustainability Bond Fund, Black business

owners and local advocates from across the city and Ward 3 to craft a visionary project

worthy of national acclaim.

Both Ward 3 Housing Justice and the Wardman Strategy Team have promoted

conversion of this hotel to housing. Our architectural concept studies show how the site

could produce 500 units, many family-sized, for people making up to $103,000/year

(80% of the area Median Family Income of $127,000 for a family of four). We propose a

mixed-income, mixed-ownership model of both rental units and limited-equity

cooperatives, revenue-producing small businesses, job training facilities and social

services, a Black-owned small hotel, space for community and recreation activities, and

classrooms for the nearby elementary school. There is strong community support for

the conversion including from Ward 3 Democrats, Woodley Park neighbors, DC for

Democracy, 660 petition-signers and more.

Some in your administration early on rejected the idea of, as they stated it,

“concentrating poor people in one place.” We take issue with this characterization and

believe that it stigmatizes working people and those getting back on their feet. Our

concept for the Wardman would provide housing for those on fixed incomes, restaurant

and grocery workers, construction workers, teachers, home health care assistants and

many others who serve our community.

Amazon has just announced plans to build 550 units of affordable housing up to 80%

MFI as reported in Bisnow: “The county will select a developer to build the project,

Amazon said in the announcement. It expects construction will begin in 2025 on the

project consisting of more than 550 new units of affordable housing for those earning

up to 80% of the area median income, bringing the property's total unit count to over


We urge you to instruct your staff to collaborate with the new owners, neighborhood

residents and housing advocates to make this project work for everyone. Through

creative leadership, you can bring the right investors, community organizations and

experts to the table with robust public and private investment to create a showcase of

affordable housing and equitable development at the Wardman Hotel.

We look forward to working with you on this important initiative.


Margaret Dwyer Meg Maguire

Ward 3 Housing Justice Wardman Hotel Strategy Team

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