Margaret Dwyer, March 6th 2023
I am Margaret Dwyer, Chair of Ward 3 Housing Justice, a grassroots advocacy group working for truly affordable housing and economic opportunity in Ward 3. I am also a neighbor of the Western Bus Garage and the Lord & Taylor site. My comments tonight are related to page 226 in the WMATA budget document, where $520.2 million is allocated for the Western Bus Garage Replacement Project.
We have been disappointed in the past by WMATA not involving the surrounding community in meaningful planning prior to taking action, but tonight we are hoping to seize this moment to begin to partner with you to ensure that the commitments to both world class transportation facilities and affordable housing comes to fruition in Friendship Heights. We celebrate WMATA’s 2021 commitment to create 1,000 affordable units at Metro Stations, and we are heartened by the ending note of the recent WMATA Community Meeting at Tenley Library, where there was a call for building a world class, all-electric bus garage with other possibilities for the community in Friendship Heights.
World class is a tall order, however, and it will require a world-class planning model. If WMATA’s aspirations are realized, you will control two of the most important sites in the redevelopment of Friendship Heights. These aspirations and footprint call for a new day in planning.
W3HJ is calling for TWO SITES/ONE PLAN as the model for the redevelopment of both the current bus garage site and the Lord & Taylor site (along with any other parcels that could be included, such as the Home Plate site). In other words, we want to see a partnership among DMPED, DHCD, OP, WMATA and other stakeholders, specifically including our affiliated non-profit NW Opportunity Partners CDC, the only CDC focused on equitable development in Ward 3, as well as other stakeholders, to plan both sites at once with a coordinated, overarching vision.
W3HJ proposes planning outcomes for the sites that
are beautiful and environmentally respectful,
meet the aspirations of the community,
address the concerns of the neighbors,
meet the needs of WMATA,
contribute to Mayor Bowser’s goal for 1990 units of new affordable housing in Ward 3 by 2025, and
contribute new life and vibrancy to Friendship Heights.
The budget document on page 226 includes little detail beyond a bottom line. We urge that generous funding be allotted within this budget to set a new standard of coordinated and collaborative planning driven by a beautiful, overarching vision.