Dec 2, 2022 - News

Wisconsin Ave. residential project reimagines Friendship Heights

Two renderings of redeveloped site on Friendship Heights, showing front and rear of building

Renderings of a proposed building along Wisconsin Avenue. Photo courtesy of D.C. Zoning Commission

A major project to build 350 apartments in Friendship Heights is advancing.

Why it matters: Friendship Heights — historically a shopping and office hub — has lost vibrancy after years of retailers shuttering their stores in the Metro-friendly neighborhood. Now it's set for a transformation, between this residential project and another large-scale one at the former Mazza Gallerie mall.

What’s happening: The 350-apartment project would replace the declining shopping center at 5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW, currently home to Maggiano’s restaurant and a DSW shoe store — and would add affordable housing units in an affluent part of D.C. 

  • The developer, Federal Realty, would demolish the existing structure and build about 10,000 square feet of retail space along with the new apartments.
  • Nearly 15.5% of them would be designated as affordable.

The plans won the support Thursday night of the local advisory neighborhood commission, a crucial vote of confidence for the project as the developer seeks final approval from the District. 

The big picture: The District has had little success building affordable housing in the neighborhood, despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s pledge three years ago to do so west of Rock Creek Park.

  • “Rock Creek West,” which is largely composed of wealthy Ward 3, has produced just 71 affordable housing units since 2019, drastically lagging behind the rest of the city, data shows

The intrigue: Lily Bullitt from D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine’s office said at Thursday’s ANC meeting that the project may need to increase its share of affordable units to 18% in order to meet planning guidelines.

What’s next: The D.C. Zoning Commission will hold a hearing on the project next week.


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