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Mendelson Challenged on Wardman Conversion Not “Viable”

Ward 3 Housing Justice


Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was challenged immediately when he threw cold water on the proposal by a group of Ward 3 residents for the city to buy the bankrupt Wardman Hotel and convert it to housing to help meet the city’s affordable housing crisis. Answering questions on his Facebook meetup late Monday afternoon, Mendelson said, “I don’t oppose [it]; I don’t think it’s viable.” While he reiterated his support for the mayor’s housing goals, he characterized the conversion plan as calling for ”concentration of 500 or more units … of low and extremely low income housing” while city policy calls for a “much greater mix rather than concentrating buildings or sites” with affordable units.

Members of Ward 3 Housing Justice vehemently disagreed with the contention that the Wardman conversion is not “viable.” “For starters, we are NOT proposing a ‘concentration’ of low-income housing,” said Carol Aten, “in fact our plan is for a mix of incomes, for people making just over $100,000 and for people living on very low incomes. We envision people living on fixed incomes such as Social Security or Veterans' pensions would be able to live here in community with the physical therapists, opticians, medical technicians, office administrators, teachers’ assistants, store clerks, new teachers, MPD officers and firefighters, the folks who work in Ward 3.”

“And as far as ‘concentration’ is concerned, there are buildings all over the city with over 500 units of market rate housing, and no one worries about that being too ‘concentrated,’” added Margaret Dwyer.

The Chairman also dismissed the request that he work on getting the July 20 auction of the property postponed. “It’s not as simple as I or the mayor making a call to the owner to get it cancelled,” he said. Ward 3 Housing Justice wants the July 20 auction postponed to give everyone more time to work out the complex financing and sophisticated planning needed for the conversion.

“Overall, Ward 3 Housing Justice, the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team and others across the city are truly puzzled that our city leaders, the Mayor, the Chairman and our own Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, are not jumping at this once-in-a-lifetime chance to create an economically, socially and racially diverse community that they so often talk about,” declared Margaret Dwyer. “The Wardman is ‘viable’ if they help us and lead.”

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