The Wardman Park Hotel in Woodley Park is set to get a major influx of new housing. Washington Post reporter Jonathan O’Connell pegs the project as the next big development battle in the District, and he’s not sure the opposition will be justified.
Currently, the site at Woodley Park encompasses the Wardman Park hotel, the Woodley apartments and the hotel-condo Wardman Tower. But the DC Comprehensive Plan designates the entire site as high- or medium-density residential. That makes sense, given how close the site is to a Metro station.
Developer JBG has both short- and long-term plans for the site. In the next few years, it hopes to add an “eight-story, 120-unit multifamily building,” according to the Washington Business Journal. The addition will include a large green space, and will sit between 2700 Woodley, an existing 212-unit apartment building, and the Wardman Tower.
The longer-term build out calls for replacing the hotel with almost 1300 new residential units, in four new buildings, with more than of 1200 parking spaces and 400 bicycle spaces.
The possible long-term buildout, including almost 1300 new residences. Map of the proposed new building. Courtesy David M. Schwarz Architects/Gensler/Lemon Brooke.
At build-out, the new buildings will have fewer units in them than the Wardman Park Hotel does today, and the big conventions and meetings will go away.
And yet, tensions over development are so high in DC that, Jonathan O’Connell, the Post’s main development reporter, tweeted his expectation that this project will spur Woodley Park to become the next in a line of DC neighborhoods to oppose new housing.
Prediction: Woodley Park becomes next epic NIMBY battle. Wealthy residents already arguing against JBGs plan for new housing units.— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) June 24, 2016
Hostility to new housing has becoming increasingly common in the District. Vocal Lanier Heights residents recently won downzoning of that nearby neighborhood. In Northeast DC, Brookland is another front in the so-called “development wars.”
Argument is the (privately owned) lawns around Woodley Park hotel make the area "liveable." But neighborhood is affordable for so few as is— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) June 24, 2016
Reminder: if you live in a close-in DC neighborhood, particularly with Metro, you are in the middle of a massive affordability crisis.— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) June 24, 2016
Mayor after mayor has committed to building more units in these neighborhoods in order to stop runaway housing costs.— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) June 24, 2016
Why should everyone carve out an exception for you and your neighborhood? Why? That's the question Woodley folks and others need to answer— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) June 24, 2016
"If everything were to go absolutely perfectly,” said JBG’s Robert Vaughan to the Washington Business Journal, the PUD would be approved by the second quarter of 2017, with groundbreaking to follow in the first quarter of 2018 and delivery by early 2020.
But with a project of this magnitude, even during an affordability crisis, that hardly seems likely.