Open Letter to Carmel
January 3, 2020
To Carmel Partners:
We are writing to you on behalf of the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team (WHST) and Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) to begin a true collaboration between you and the community for the former Wardman Park Hotel property in Woodley Park, DC.
We, with many allies in the community, have a deep interest in using this valuable property for the public good. Indeed, for the last ten months, ever since the hotel bankruptcy, the community has worked to develop a vision for the Wardman that includes truly affordable mixed income housing, preservation of the green space, classroom space for Oyster-Adams School, onsite job training and commercial opportunities and generous amounts of community spaces for gatherings, the arts and recreation.
Our first request was for the city to buy the property at the bankruptcy auction. Since the Bowser Administration refused to act, we are now holding it to the promise made by Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio to “maximize the residential potential of the site with an emphasis on affordable housing and attainable, middle-income housing.”
Since your successful bid in July, we advocates, as well as our elected representative Councilmember Mary Cheh, have asked to no avail for a direct meeting with you to ensure meaningful community participation in the redevelopment of the property. In the meantime, you have been busy:
First, you auctioned the contents of the hotel, including those of the kitchen, eliminating the possibility that it could be used for the job training program we had envisioned.
Then, in November, right before the holidays, you put in an application for a permit to raze the property, making it much less likely that our vision for a green, repurposed use of the existing building would ever be a reality.
And, third, you continue to run down the clock on the demolition permit without meeting with stakeholders
Our interpretation of these actions is that you are ignoring the community, proceeding with demolition and pursuing a matter-of-right/PUD/IZ project which we know from experience is the toolkit that fails to produce the affordable housing the city needs, especially in Ward 3. Please prove us wrong.
As a first step, we ask you to withdraw your demolition application in order to hold real discussions with housing justice advocates, DM Falcicchio, CM Mary Cheh and other stakeholders this week.
We call on you to engage in discussion to answer these questions from the public:
Will you engage with stakeholders in the neighborhood and in the ‘should-be community’ so that you can better understand community aspirations for the property?
Do you commit to work with the city and activists to create the ‘maximum possible affordable housing’ that DM Falcicchio has called for? What steps will you take?
Will you commit to building community assets, beyond significant amounts of affordable housing, into your redesign of the site? The community plan included preservation of the green space, classroom space for Oyster School, commercial opportunities including job training sites, and generous amounts of community spaces for gatherings, the arts, and recreation.
We look forward to an early reply and a fruitful, meaningful exchange that, among other things, starts to fulfill the DM Falcicchio pledge for an “emphasis on affordable housing and attainable, middle-income housing.”
Margaret Dwyer, Ward 3 Housing Justice
William Jordan, Wardman Hotel Strategy Team