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DC Office of Planning Partners with ULI Washington to Examine the Future of Friendship Heights

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

(WASHINGTON, DC) – In partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the DC Office of Planning (OP) has engaged the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Washington to examine the future of Friendship Heights with a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP).  The TAP will be a key step in exploring opportunities for advancing transformative and equitable redevelopment in Friendship Heights, as outlined in Mayor Bowser’s proposed Comprehensive Plan update.

The TAP will examine Friendship Heights, once a leading regional destination for luxury retail which has experienced a major disruption in its market position, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual TAP will focus primarily on the portion of Friendship Heights within the District of Columbia as well as key WMATA assets on the Maryland border. ULI Washington has been tasked with evaluating existing land use, transit assets and access, opportunities to increase housing options, and providing cohesive design and public realm recommendations. Specifically, the TAP will examine: the future of retail in Friendship Heights; opportunities for market rate and affordable housing; leveraging transit assets and growing transit ridership; design and density; and placemaking opportunities.

“Friendship Heights is a critical housing opportunity area for the District with the potential to produce thousands of new homes including substantial affordable housing opportunities,” said Andrew Trueblood, Director of OP. “As the DC Council finalizes the proposed Comprehensive Plan update and with the Zoning Commission approval of Expanded Inclusionary Zoning (IZ+), Friendship Heights offers a crucial opportunity to significantly advance the Mayor’s housing equity goals for the Rock Creek West Planning Area.”

Through the TAP program, ULI Washington is able to deliver honest, unbiased answers to land use and real estate questions that defy easy solutions. Panelists are selected from the over 2,200 ULI members in the ULI Washington District Council based on the specific nature of each assignment. The multidisciplinary nature of the panelists’ expertise results in innovative recommendations. During the TAP, panelists hear from sponsors, tour the site, interview local stakeholders, and present recommendations to the sponsors. A published report is the panel’s final deliverable.

OP looks forward to engaging with the Office of Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, property owners, and other stakeholders on this effort. The panel will present its recommendations to OP and WMATA the week of April 19, 2021.

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