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Massive Development Plans for Woodley Park – Michael Drohan Reports on the Details

by Prince Of Petworth April 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm 28 Comments

2660 Woodley Rd, NW

Neighborhood resident, Michael Drohan, reports on last night’s meeting:

“I checked out the Woodley Park Community Association’s meeting tonight, where JBG shared their long term plans for the redevelopment of the Wardman Park site. Overall, a very informative presentation I thought, and JBG has some ambitious plans that, for the most part, seemed to be cautiously welcomed by the community. I.e. no one is mourning the loss of the eyesore Marriott, but of course concerned what the influx of housing for 6000 new neighborhood residents (roughly doubling the size of Woodley Park) means to things like parking availability and schools.


JBG has set up a detailed website on the plans, www.wardmanparknews.com, and handed me a press release, attached. Some other high level notes and observations:

2016-April-13-WPCA-Presentation-FINAL (PDF)

Doc Apr 13, 2016, (PDF)

-Overall, the site is looking at a transformation of 3x the current density. Key to the redevelopment is that in their 2012 land use map, the DC Gov marked the site as a targeted high density residential site for the future. It is currently a medium density zone, and as it stands, the Marriott is technically under utilizing the designation.

Planning on five buildings: Phase One will be one building on Woodley Rd of 110-120 units, and the open green space that the neighborhood currently values so much will be preserved for the community to use. Phase Two will be four more buildings, three of which will back up to Calvert St. and one will be in the “middle” of the development. Right now, the site is zoned for purely residential development (In case you’re wondering, dear reader, the Marriott was grandfathered in to this most latest zoning). There was talk of the possibility of putting some combined pressure on the DC Government to rezone for limited retail if that was of interest to the community.

What was also interesting is in their presentation, JBG had a current and after rendering of how the buildings will contribute to the Woodley Park skyline from various vantage points, and it definitely looks more attractive and even less obtrusive than the current brown brick block of the Marriott.

-Architect Michael Swartz (of David M. Schwarz Architects) described the buildings as a “natural fit” to the community, much like the recently opened The Woodley apartments, which was more-or-less JBG’s “Phase Zero” for the site. Brick, neo-gothic style.

-I didn’t get a good sense of the timeline, but we’re looking at several, several years. There are several moving parts including the DC government and whatever terms Marriott still has on managing the property. JBG plans to file initial applications this month.

Definitely peruse the site, JBG knows they have a passionate community here, and so far, seem to be respecting that.”

  • Guillermo Brown

    Wow, this is crazy. I’m sure the developers of the Wardman Tower are happy that prospective buyers of their $2-6 MM condos are faced with prospect of years and years of construction at the bottom of their building

    • Anonymous

      Uh, the developer of Wardman Tower is JBG, as is the developer of all the other stuff…

  • d

    This is fantastic news for Woodley Park. The renderings are nice enough to calm even the most ardent NIMBY. Hopefully the long-term retail plans include a large format grocery store since there is none in the neighborhood. I always thought the Omni Shoreham annex building should be converted to retail with a grocer.

    • nevermindtheend

      Everyone knows nothing is nice enough to calm the most ardent NIMBY.

      • d

        Ha, true.

    • Johnny

      moved to woodley recently. Im FOR the plan. (Better than having a buttload of tourists and convention people flooding the neighborhood at odd times) HOWEVER. Adding 6000 fulltime residents without adding some more retail is alarming to me. the few decent restaurants we have are always over crowded. and we have one tiny market. What this neighborhood sorely needs is a fullsize grocery store. How bout a whole foods facing calvert street there? Like the OP said. we are doubling the size of woodley. Im not worried about car traffic as its right on a metro station. im worried about people traffic on our tiny retail strip. Need more places for them to go.

      • DM

        I agree that there should definitely be a retail component, but it’s important to remember the numbers of *residents* are doubling, not necessarily the size of the neighborhood or the impact on existing retail. These apartments are replacing a hotel that, at full occupancy, has close to 2,000 guests (in addition to conference attendees staying elsewhere). These people put far more of a strain on retail by inundating them every day, rather than local residents who may go out to dinner in the neighborhood maybe once a week.

        • Johnny

          True. But hotel guests dont need groceries. and there are a couple of reastaurants in the hotel currently. I think 6000 new fulltime residents merits a real grocery store and couple more restaurants. resaurants facing the park they are proposing would be awesome. and Im sure that given the chance wholefoods would leap at the chance to locate on top of a metro station in woodley where it could also serve dupont, adams morgan, and cleveland park etc

        • Wardman

          This is probably only partially true. Most large conventions feed their convention goers. Most of those tourists attending conventions there are also eating lunch there. And the hotel itself has several restaurants. Not to say plenty of tourists don’t go eat around there, but Open City is most definitely not hotel goers most of the time.

          • Philippe Lecheval

            While it fills up with brunching millennials on the weekends, a large percentage of their weekday guests appear to be tourists.

      • PCC

        Really, where the heck did you hear this “6000 fulltime residents” figure?

  • This is now my neighborhood, and I say bring on the cranes. YIMBY.

    • Johnny

      are you concerned about our little retail strip being inundated with people? Im all for the plan too. But I think there absolutely needs to be a retail component. would love to see a grocery store. couple more restaurants etc. Doubling the size of the neighborhood without more amenities for the neighborhood to spread out in seems scary. we will be denser than adams morgan with a tenth of the retail.

  • wp

    Here’s hoping they kick some money to Metro to run more red line trains during rush hour. Otherwise, fat chance any of these new residents will get a seat on the train.

    • Jerry Grundle

      If they’re anywhere near as expensive as the other new units on that property, I don’t think we have to worry about residents putting a strain on the Metro. Folks who pay that much in rent don’t ride on public transit with the common people. They like to brag about being a block from Metro, but they do not use it.

  • Anonymous

    “the influx of housing for 6000 new neighborhood residents”

    How did you come up with this 6000 number? It seems grossly inaccurate.

    The entire project (five building in total) is pegged at 1,534,547 square feet. If we assume 1000 sq ft per unit–which is larger than a typical 1-bedroom but slightly smaller than a standard two-bedroom unit–the total number of units built will be roughly 1,534. Given the standard of 1.5 people per unit, the number of new residents will be about 2,301.

    However, since Woodley Park is a well-to-do area, the average size of apartments (or condos) in this project will likely be substantially greater than 1000 sq feet. So, taking that into account, the number of new residents will probably be in the range of 1,500 to 2,000.

    • anon

      1000 square feet is WAY larger than a typical D.C. one-bedroom. I’d say a “typical” D.C. one-bedroom is more like 650-700 square feet.

    • PCC

      Even that seems high to me. The Woodley has 212 apartments in 411,270 sq ft of gross building area, or 1,940 sq ft per apartment! (Keep in mind that about 20% of the square footage in high-rise apartment buildings is “wasted” on hallways, staircases, etc.) By that standard, the population could be below 1,200, which is fewer than the Marriott usually brings.

      “3x the current density” is also silly — you must mean 3x the existing number of apartments, but sorry, the monster Marriott is not yet an abandoned hulk. The new buildings appear to add a net of ~166,000 square feet, after subtracting out the Marriott demolition, for a mere 12% increase in floor area. From a people-density perspective, the net result looks like a substantial **decrease** in density to me: since apartments are substantially larger than hotel rooms, they’re 40-60% less dense.

  • Jerry Grundle

    Seems perhaps a bit overly ambitious, but at least it looks good. They did a fantastic job with that uber expensive new apartment building down on Woodley Road.

  • Duponter

    While I think everyone will agree the main tower of the hotel is very ugly and dated, it’s a bit sad to think of how much history is disappearing and that there will no longer be a hotel there. The neighbors have hated that hotel for decades though, so not surprising they are rejoicing. Once they figure out the dent it will put in the value of their own condos, maybe they won’t be so happy about it. That’s a lot of supply going in.

    Just sad seeing history erased. But c’est la vie.

    • Anonomnom

      This was my concern, as a condo owner who lives across the street from that Marriott. I was like OH!!! …. Oh.
      And I never realized how much hate that place had! I never minded it much. Even had my wedding block there.

    • Anonymous

      Of course, with more residents, they might get nicer amenities and better retail development which will make it a more desirable neighborhood which will increase the value of their condos. And I’m sure some of them would like their neighborhood to be better, even if their condo values dip a bit – let’s be honest, they’re not going to move dramatically. I personally wouldn’t spend too much energy making arguments based on predictions of condo values.

      • Anon

        Don’t fret – the new development will not adversely affect the existing condos. The new development will be built to the highest possible price per sqft the developer things they could get for the space. If nothing else, it’ll will eventually help drive demand for that area (greater density = more amenities, etc.).

        • Wardman

          There is literally no indication that retail will follow. Where are you going to add it? There’s a thing called zoning. And Woodley Park is about as NIMBY as you get in the city. Good luck assuming you’re going to all of a sudden turn WP into Dupont with a few thousand more residents. It ain’t going to happen.

          There’s a reason it took JBG more than a decade to start actually doing this. It was their plan all along. But the market only recently recovered enough to give them an opportunity to drop a few thousand units in there at a high price and wring out a profit. If you think it won’t impact the value of your 50+ year old condo in WP, you’re crazy.

    • lizcolleena

      Isn’t the Omni across the street still there? I believe both are/were in the top 5 largest hotels in the city, so certainly there will be many fewer hotel rooms at that exact spot. But that’s a good thing in many ways…

      • Wardman

        The Omni is still there. The Wardman Park was the largest hotel by number of rooms for many, many years. I think it dropped to second place or third after it removed the Wardman Tower rooms and converted them to condos. When National Harbor opened, it picked up a few of the annual conventions at Wardman. Then the Marquis made the convention center a more appealing option for many others. It was only a matter of time. That hotel would go from 1300+ rooms occupied one day to like 50 when the weekend hit.

  • llucas

    I will miss the fabulous flower gardens of the Marriott.

  • As a lifelong Washingtonian, I’m routinely shocked at the growth in the DC area, and the city proper. I live in the house I grew up in which is near Woodley Park. I have embraced the generally smart growth that has taken place in the city, and this would fall into that category, but it’s still amazing to think about 6,000 new homes here. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just marveling at the difference from what life was like in 70’s and 80’s when I was a kid and the city was written off as a basket case that couldn’t do anything right, people with money were fleeing.


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