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Wardman Team Asks DMPED to Join Affordable Housing Effort

PRESS RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2021



“Without substantial intentional DC investment the goal of 1990 new affordable units in Ward 3 is a disingenuous fantasy,” said Carol Aten, Wardman Hotel Strategy Team member in testimony to Council on June 4.


At Council’s FY’22 budget hearings on June 3 and June 4, the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team and the Ward 3 Housing Justice Working Group presented strong testimony urging members to approve $140 million to purchase the old hotel for affordable housing and a variety of businesses and services.


To reach the Mayor’s Ward 3 goal of 1990 affordable units through market-rate development --even assuming the yet to be realized 20% Inclusionary Zoning, -- would require 100 new buildings of 100 units each. In contrast, the former hotel can reach 25% of the goal with approximately 500 units of housing -- many for large families -- who earn 0-80% of the Median Family Income (MFI). This very large complex also offers the rare opportunity to serve both the new and existing communities.


Preliminary concept studies show that the large ballrooms, meeting rooms and kitchens will be transformed into classrooms that serve over-crowded local schools plus adult education; offices for social services; culinary training facilities; a small business incubator; reduced-rate spaces for local non-profit conferences and meetings; and active recreation courts for basketball and tennis Team member and Ward 3 resident Margaret Lenzner testified, “I have been very pleased by the uniformly positive responses I’ve received from Woodley Park neighbors so far.” They appreciate that sustainable adaptive reuse will avoid destructive demolition.” “They welcome the repurposing the hotel’s vast event rooms for community uses.”


Instead of just dismissing purchase of this site as too expensive, Meg Maguire, a member of both the Working Group and the Strategy Team, called on Deputy Major Falcicchio to work with the Team to “...run the numbers. In a rapid-response, time-limited marathon let’s estimate both costs and revenues under at least two different scenarios – social housing and mixed-opportunity housing for residents earning 0-80% MFI...To dismiss this opportunity with simplistic, unexamined assumptions would be a grave mistake. Instead, let’s be creative and think outside the box.”


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