Councilmembers Comment on Affordable Housing at Wardman
Ward 3 Housing Justice | Wardman Hotel Strategy Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 20, 2022
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845, firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing advocates asked three DC councilmembers how they would bring more affordable housing to the former Wardman Hotel. Each supported the goal in a different way, reacting to new owner Carmel Partners’ plans to demolish the existing building for two new apartment towers totaling 900 units, only 72 affordable.
Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis-George, the prime sponsor of the Green New Deal/Social Housing bill now before the Council, said a firm “I agree” that the Wardman would be the ideal demonstration project for her bill’s social housing component to achieve affordable housing. The bill is cosponsored by Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Trayon White, Brianne Nadeau, Brooke Pinto and Charles Allen and supported by EmpowerDC, the Sierra Club, Ward 3 Housing Justice, SunriseDC, the DC NAACP, LiUNA Baltimore/DC, and the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team. A hearing on the Green New Deal for housing bill is set for November 17.
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, at a meet & greet in Ward 3, said the Wardman was “a missed opportunity” to generate more affordable housing in Ward 3, forcing the city now “to be more creative with the tools in our tool kit.” He had asked Mayor Bowser to include $140 million in her budget to buy the property at the bankruptcy sale last year. Despite support from ANC 3C, Ward 3 Democrats, and others, the mayor refused to act.
At Large Councilmember Anita Bonds responded to a question about the Wardman at a September 29 Ward 3 Democrats candidate forum. She said she would “love to” press the Mayor’s Office of Planning for Large Tract Review (LTR) of the current plans. While pointing out that she lacked direct OP oversight, she said “I would be very happy to follow-up … I would love to do that.” OP has rejected LTR contending that the Wardman project is not large enough, even though the developers’ own plans say the property covers 11+ acres, more than three times the minimum acreage needed to initiate LTR.
“We thank all three councilmembers for their support for a better approach than the 900/72 misguided plan now being pursued by the present owners, Carmel Partners,” said Margaret Lenzner, Wardman Hotel Strategy Team member. “It’s clear that the Wardman and Lewis-George’s social housing would be an ideal marriage.” For this ‘large’ project, OP must meet its duty to initiate Large Tract Review, the Council must pass the Green New Deal, including social housing, and the city must assert control of property, for example through eminent domain, to create truly mixed-income housing at the Wardman that would also serve as a social housing model for the city and bring national attention to DC for housing and architectural innovation.
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