OP Urged to Analyze WardmanTied to Green New Deal
Wardman Hotel Strategy Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 2, 2022
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845, firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing sentiment over the "wasted opportunity" of the Wardman Hotel redevelopment continued at Thursday’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) hearing. In response to citizen testimony requesting Large Tract Review (LTR) of the project, longtime HPRB member and former chair Gretchen Pfaehler stated that while LTR isn't under HPRB's purview, "if this property merits it, it should certainly have that review because it's rare that we have large areas of land available in the District for re-visioning and reuse.”
Witnesses testified that LTR is a path to achieving city goals, including increased affordable housing, sustainability, and mixed use development on a transit oriented site directly over the Woodley Park Metro station. LTR is intended to analyze design, traffic, and environmental impacts of properties larger than three acres.
The Mayor’s Office of Planning (OP) has rejected public calls for LTR, saying the development project is just under three acres; however, the owner/developer, Carmel Partners, has repeatedly stated in public meetings that their property is 9 acres. Chair Marnique Heath associated herself with Ms. Pfaehler’s comments and invited a response from Steve Callcott of OP's Historic Office of Preservation. Callcott re-asserted the OP position that the Wardman is too small for LTR.
Pfaehler said she would "encourage people to ask questions [of OP] about
how that determination was made."
Wardman Hotel Strategy Team members Robin Diener and Nick Delle Donne, who both spoke Thursday, said they were pleased to have "been heard" by HPRB. "I'm sure a meeting with OP will be our next step in trying to achieve a New Green Vision for the Wardman," said Delle Donne.
Diener, who testified that she lived two blocks away from the site and rode her bike through Rock Creek Park to her job at a bookstore in Georgetown, added, "That was forty years ago. The site has so much to offer. We cannot let it be wasted on secluded luxury usage."
In other Wardman related activity, Wardman housing advocates convened a public discussion of A Wardman Vision at the Cleveland Park Library on Saturday, April 23. As part of the program, five council candidates signed- on to a letter to the Mayor asking her to act on the Wardman to help meet her goal of 1990 affordable housing units in Ward 3 by 2025. The Ward 3 candidates who signed were Ben Bergmann, Monte Monash and Diedre Brown; they were joined by Dexter Williams and Lisa Gore, running at- large. Saturday’s event was sponsored by the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team, Ward 3 Housing Justice and the DC Grassroots Planning Coalition.
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