Planned Unit Development: 5220 Wisconsin Avenue, Zoning Commission #06-31
On June 19, 2006, the Akridge Company submitted an application for a planned unit development and map amendment at 5220 Wisconsin Avenue.
Members of Friendship Neighborhood Association participated in public meetings, met with the staff of the Office of Planning and carefully reviewed the Akridge submission. In September 2006, the Office of Planning recommended that the Application be set down for a public hearing. On September 6, 2006, Friendship Neighborhood Association submitted to the Zoning Commission a petition signed by more than 500 residents living very close to the site. On September 7, 2006, Friendship Neighborhood Association filed comments on the OP report outlining deficiencies in the OP report, including the omission of required tabulations and a discussion of how the proposal was inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. In February 2007, ANC 3E passed a detailed resolution opposing the Application.
A hearing was held on March 8 and April 12, 2007. A decision approving the PUD was published in the D.C. Register on October 26, 2007.
In the Summer of 2002, the Office of Planning initiated the process that lead to the Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study (UWACS) and the Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Transportation Study (WACTS). The UWACS was prepared by the Office of Planning as a “small area plan” for Tenleytown and Friendship Heights. Members of Friendship Neighborhood Association were active participants in throughout the process, attending meetings, charrettes, providing input, meeting with OP staff, meeting with Councilmembers and testifying at hearings.
Friendship Neighborhood Association’s official comments (pdf) on the Office of Planning’s November 2003 Draft Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study Strategic Framework Plan includes background information as well as an analysis of the likely impact of the UWACS if it were to be adopted as a small area plan.
The Office of Planning released the final draft of the Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study in July 2004.
On September 2004, DDOT began a transportation study to determine whether the transportation infrastructure could support the recommendations of the UWACS.
On September 29, 2005, the Ellen McCarthy, Director of the Office of Planning, announced that OP was withdrawing the UWACS.
Other testimony and comments on these two studies are available in the public comments sections of the final drafts of these two studies on the Office of Planning and District Department of Transportation websites. The draft posted on the Office of Planning web-site was withdrawn in September 2005.
The Office of Planning recently completed a revision of the District’s Comprehensive Plan which provides policy and planning guidance on the physical development and redevelopment of the city; and will determine the District’s land use policies for the next twenty years. Members of Friendship Neighborhood Association were active in this process, attending meetings, providing individual comments and testimony to the Office of Planning and to the D.C. Council.
In January 2006, Friendship Neighborhood Association passed a resolution outlining critical policies that should be maintained in the revised Comprehensive Plan.
On September 5, 2006, Friendship Neighborhood Association submitted comments on the July 2006 “Mayor’s Draft of the Revised Comprehensive Plan.” These comments concentrated on mapping issues and the Rock Creek West Element of the Comprehensive Plan.
WMATA issued a Joint Development Solicitation on August 21, 2005 which included a solicitation for a proposal for the Western Bus Garage in Friendship Heights.
Members of Friendship Neighborhood Association interviewed each of the developers that submitted proposals to WMATA in response to its solicitation of development proposals for the Western Bus Garage site in Friendship Heights. The following description of the site and proposals is based on the WMATA solicitation, public documents, FNA interviews and the developers’ presentations to ANC 3E.
This site is approximately 3.75 acres, between Wisconsin Avenue and 44th Street, between the alley behind Harrison Street and Jenifer Street, NW. It includes an elevator-only entrance to the Friendship Heights Metrorail Station. The 1974 plan for Friendship Heights, prepared by the National Capital Planning Commission and D.C. Government Interagency Task Force, in anticipation of the coming Metro, designated an area as an R-5-B buffer zone between “the high density commercial and mixed use portions of the plan area and the surrounding low density residential community.” The recommended zoning in this plan was adopted in Zoning Commission Order 87, along with a Statement of Reasons for adopting this zoning. Much of the WMATA site and the entire abutting Buick site is included in this R-5-B buffer. Just to the south of the site is a row of 2-story apartment buildings. Semi-detached homes, an R-2 district, are just south and west of the 2-story apartment buildings. The R-5-B buffer zone continues to the west of the site in the Lord & Taylor parking lot. To the west of the C-2-B portion of the WMATA site, there is a C-2-A zone, which includes the Lord & Taylor store, and a 4-story office and retail building. On the southwest corner of Jenifer and Wisconsin is a building which includes a parking garage and retail [former location of the Jenifer Theater]. Mazza Gallerie, with height of 60 feet, is directly across Jenifer Street from the C-2-B portion of the WMATA site. Across Wisconsin Avenue is a C-2-A zone. Between Ingomar and Jenifer Street, there is a 64 foot office building which predates current zoning, and a two story building with a restaurant and offices. South of Ingomar Street are one- to two-story retail and office buildings. On the other side of the C-2-A zone is another R-2 zone, with detached and semi-detached single family homes, as well as rowhouses that were built in 1938. Square 1661, the block on the northeast corner of Jenifer and Wisconsin was developed as a PUD, with Chevy Chase Plaza and Chevy Chase Pavilion built in the 1980s, and Friendship Centre developed in the 1990s. On that square, the Courts of Chevy Chase, a townhouse development, was built in the 1990s and is in a portion of the R-5-B buffer.
Current zoning on the WMATA Western Bus Garage site includes two zones, C-2-B on a 42,264 SF portion of the site at the corner of 44th Street and Jenifer, and R-5-B for the remainder of the site. The Buick site has a land area of 22,500 SF and is zoned R-5-B.
Maximum height in the C-2-B zone is 65 feet, and maximum height in the R-5-B zone is 50 feet. The maximum FAR in this split zone site is 2.24, with a maximum FAR of 1.8 in the residential R-5-B zone and a maximum FAR of 3.5 in the C-2-B zone, with no more than 1.5 for non-residential uses.
Matter of right (MOR) development of this site would allow total development of 367,300 SF, of which no more than 63,397 can be non-residential. One developer has acquired the Buick site and is proposing joint development of the two sites. Matter of right development on the Buick and WMATA sites would allow a floor area 407,800 SF, of which no more than 63,397 can be non-residential.
The WMATA solicitation states that OP’s Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study recommends that developers initiate a zoning change in the form of a PUD and map amendment [entire site to C-2-B], to increase the floor area ratio (FAR), a measure of density, to 6.0 and the height limit to 90 feet. According to the WMATA JDS, WMATA has identified possible replacement sites for the Western Bus Garage, but has not yet obtained approvals. A replacement bus facility [either on-site or off-site] would need to accommodate 138 buses and employee parking for 120 cars.
Four developers made presentations at a regular ANC 3E meeting. Six projects were presented. Descriptions of the proposals presented to the ANC by the developers along with additional information that was obtained in conversations with the developers will open in a new window when you click on the developers' names.
· Avalon Bay [two proposals presented to the ANC, one “MOR” and the other a PUD with a map amendment, only one proposal, different from either proposal presented to the ANC was submitted to WMATA]
The two “MOR” proposals are within the height and density limits of MOR development with current zoning, but include uses that would not be allowed as a matter of right with current zoning.
Two developers, Akridge and Trammel Crow, propose retaining the bus facility use [a non-conforming use] on-site, making structural alterations and enlarging the structure devoted to the non-conforming use, which appears to be contrary to §2002 of the Zoning Regulations.