Statement on Future of Friendship Heights & Lord & Taylor Site Rescind Proposal to Move Bus Garage
Ward 3 Housing Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2022
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ), a grassroots affordable housing and community-based planning organization, issued a statement today calling on the Mayor’s Office of Planning (OP) to immediately rescind its recommendation that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) be allowed to redevelop the huge Lord & Taylor site on Western Avenue as a bus garage with no planning or public input. Since WMATA will continue to occupy its current site on Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OP is recommending that two major sites in Friendship Heights, the current garage on Wisconsin Avenue and the Lord & Taylor site be tied up and unavailable to meet Ward 3’s and the city’s pressing public needs.
“The Mayor has set a goal of creating 1990 new units of affordable housing in Ward 3 by 2025. However, in the ensuing years, only a few dozen are now starting to trickle into our housing stock,” W3HJ said in a recent statement on the OP Friendship Heights. “The redevelopment of Friendship Heights offers some of the best possibilities for the creation of new housing, including robust amounts of affordable and deeply affordable housing, family-sized units, and affordable opportunities for home ownership in Ward 3. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed and should not be undermined.“
The Lord & Taylor site has been targeted in the Comprehensive Plan for a mix of residential, retail, and an unspecified public use, which could be a school, library and/or community center. These uses are compatible with proposed historic preservation of the existing Lord & Taylor building. “OP’s rush to put WMATA on equal zoning footing with a school, library, or other local public institution is premature,” said Margaret Dwyer, Friendship Heights resident and W3HJ member. “The zoning discussion should stop while planning for the redevelopment of Friendship Heights continues, and the Lord & Taylor site should be a focus of that effort. Once plans are created and it is clear how the redevelopment of the Lord & Taylor site can complement the overall plan, there will be plenty of time to consider any necessary zoning changes.”
W3HJ reiterates its call on OP to immediately rescind its proposal to facilitate WMATA’s use of this site. If it doesn’t, the Zoning Commission should reject it.
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