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Office of Planning Gets ‘F’ on Wardman

Updated: May 16, 2023

Bowser Must Act Now to Preserve Affordable Housing, Environment

Wardman Hotel Strategy Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2022

Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Mayor Bowser’s Office of Planning (OP) gets an ‘F’ grade on the former Marriott Wardman Hotel because of its total failure to meet its ‘planning’ obligation to the community in Woodley Park. The grassroots Wardman Hotel Strategy Team (WHST) gives OP a failing grade because it refuses to use its own planning tool, Large Tract Review (LTR), to analyze the risks of this very large demolition and construction project. OP’s choice to forego LTR would allow the Wardman to be demolished and replaced by 900 market rate apartments, only 72 of them affordable, prior to completing its own OP Woodley Park area planning with the community.

OP is squandering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move Ward 3 toward Mayor Bowser’s goal of 1990 additional affordable housing units in the ward by 2025. It’s also neglecting community requests for a supermarket and additional classroom space for overcrowded schools.

Large Tract Review (LTR) is intended to assess risk to the city from projects of three acres or more, in the areas of transportation, the environment, city infrastructure, and the community. However, OP has rejected LTR for the Wardman by claiming the site is less than three acres, despite the fact that Carmel Partners, the developer, submitted documents stating the site was 11+ acres and the fact that the area of demolition alone, if the hotel were razed, would be 4.7 acres.

The result: an environmental disaster at a transit rich site that could be converted to as many as 500 units of mixed-income affordable housing, including many family-sized units. This can be seen in drawings showing the opportunities that are possible at the Wardman through adaptive reuse.

OP’s failure comes despite Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio’s statement that the city would work with the developer “to maximize the residential potential of the site with an emphasis on affordable housing and attainable, middle-income housing.” Note: Deputy Mayor Falcicchio supervises OP.

WHST calls on Mayor Bowser to step in and order OP to perform LTR to protect the environment and ensure maximum affordable housing, not the 900/72 now planned by Carmel.

"Although Carmel claims it will begin exterior demolition of the hotel this month, DCRA's approval for the demolition is still ‘in process’ and not a done deal,” said Carren Kaston, a Ward 3 resident and member of the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team and Ward 3 Housing Justice. “The Mayor can still order OP to perform LTR for the Wardman.”

“Mayor Bowser can realize her housing goal for Ward 3 and the city by acting on this unique opportunity supported by the community,” added Robin Diener, member of the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team. “Adaptive reuse of the Wardman Hotel will ensure an environmentally sustainable project and produce as many as 500 units of affordable housing. If OP and the city want to get an ‘A’ grade, they'll make this project a model of Social Housing, as proposed in CM Janeese Lewis George's Green New Deal for Housing bill. That would create here in DC a visionary housing showcase for the nation.”

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