Wardman Update: City Reversal Opens Door for Affordable Housing & More
Ward 3 Housing Justice
Release: January 6th, 2023
Contact: Nick DelleDonne, firstname.lastname@example.org , 703-029-6656
CM Frumin Asked to Lead Community Discussion and Developer Carmel Picks New Counsel
Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) is welcoming a major change in direction by the DC Office of Planning (OP) and other city agencies making decisions about the future of Friendship Heights and upper Wisconsin Avenue. On September 28, OP withdrew its proposal to the DC Zoning Commission to allow the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) to move its bus garage to the vacant Lord & Taylor property on Western Avenue from its present location on Wisconsin Avenue. This proposal will likely come up some time next year. OP was responding to strong opposition from W3HJ, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E and many residents of the neighborhood, as well as objections raised by citywide groups such as the Committee of 100 and Empower DC.
The presentations by WMATA and OP about the move and the planned zoning change at the September 8 ANC 3E meeting were understood by many to mean that the garage move was a “done deal”, in direct contradiction to OP’s own survey intended to learn and center what citizens want for the development of Friendship Heights. In fact, the garage move proposal would have locked in the future of two key sites, the empty Lord & Taylor property and the current bus garage, long before the community had an opportunity to be heard. OP’s position apparently stems from a recommendation in an April, 2021, Urban Land Institute report to OP that was funded by OP, WMATA and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).
“We thank OP for listening to W3HJ, ANC 3E, especially Commissioner Jonathan Bender, and all the neighbors who told OP that absent community input and proper planning, the garage move is a bad idea,” said Margaret Dwyer, head of W3HJ and Friendship Heights resident. “We know that this is just the start of the discussions about how we can make Friendship Heights work for all—for affordable housing, jobs, retail, entertainment, schools, and the environment. This can’t be left to piecemeal efforts. We now look to OP to lead the way in big picture planning, including clear plans and targets for affordable housing, for the entire area.”