A recording of the latest virtual webinar program sponsored by Historic Chevy Chase DC on development options and the Small Area Plan is now available. This 75-minute Zoom program, recorded on Oct. 6, features a technological peek at how Chevy Chase DC along Connecticut Avenue might look if density and affordable housing increase to meet citywide goals.
“Picture the Plan: Let’s Talk About Shaping Chevy Chase DC’s Future,” had an impressive turnout of more than 115 viewers, said Chas Cadwell of HCCDC who curated the many questions from the audience typed into the chatbox.
The webinar, hosted by HCCDC President Carl Lankowski, featured a series of streetscape visualizations created by Ward3Vision, a neighborhood organization that advocates for “even better urban places – more walkable, sustainable, and vibrant.” Ron Eichner, a founding member of Ward3Vision who is a longtime Chevy Chase DC resident, former planner, and real estate developer who focuses on Smart Growth, said the idea was to “move the conversation … from the abstract to specific options.”
The development featured in the Ward3Vision graphics focused on the “Gateway” portion of Connecticut Avenue — from the Chevy Chase Circle to Livingston Street — and adds about 750 units of housing, each an average of 900 square feet. Of those, 230 would be “affordable,” according to the definition used by the city — a complicated formula that equals “up to 80 percent of mean family income” and caps rents at 30 percent of household income.
The presentation featured Ward 3 resident Matt Bell, architect and urban designer who teaches at the University of Maryland and has designed numerous projects in the DMV, and Chevy Chase DC neighbor Ellen McCarthy, principal at the Urban Partnership LLC and former DC Director of Planning. But the bulk of the evening will be reserved for questions, discussions and debate moderated by HCCDC President Carl Lankowski.
Ward3Vision has been active in the process leading to the adoption of revisions to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s citywide Comprehensive Plan, advocating for efforts such as the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan. It supports Smart Growth solutions and has participated in task forces and committees throughout Ward 3 to address planning, sustainability, racism, and social equity issues.
Eichner characterizes the Ward3Vision concept as “not quite a plan, but it identifies opportunity sites and presents a framework for further discussion and design during the Small Area Plan process.”
In announcing the event, Lankowski noted that HCCDC’s goal is to promote informed discussion, debate, and engagement around the community’s history, streetscape and future development. “The Ward3Vision team makes a very useful contribution to the many discussions of the Small Area Plan, and we are happy to host this event to let Chevy Chase neighbors hear their ideas and join the discussion,” he said.
Questions from the Chatbox 10/6/2021
08:02 PM I wholeheartedly support the goals, especially adding more affordable housing. Current neighborhood schools are very overcrowded. What is the plan for adding school capacity given that we are looking to add new housing?
08:01 PM How many affordable units do you anticipate under your plan? Why only 20% of total units? How much would an affordable unit cost in today’s dollars?
08:03 PM how does this vision incorporate DDOT’s proposed protected bike lanes on each side of conn ave. and your statement about plenty of parking on conn ave?
08:06 PM With regard to parking, shouldn’t we encourage use of buses rather than inviting driving to this area, in line with the environmental and life quality goals? At Comm. Chang’s discussion last week, we found out that the apartment building residents on the panel all bike, walk and/or use public transportation. Not everyone drives or should drive.
08:08 PM How will the school district address the increase in housing/residency in the Chevy Chase DC area ? Specifically, I understand that Lafayette Elementary is already working with limited space, particularly for the pre-K 4 program.
08:09 PM While the existing “Gateway” buildings are taller, they are not surounded by other tall structures — so, they don’t feel as tall or cramped. Whereas, the vision buildings packed in those spaces would not feel as human scale as the “Blessed Sacrament” apartment building or the L&F building seem. Also, the architecture of the “Blessed Sacrament” apartment building is lovely…..doubt that new construction would equal or surpass since developers generally care more about the bottom line.
08:11 PM The playground, basketball court/pickleball court and tenis back board are constantly in use. The concept shown here does not include any outdoor recreation area. How does this lack of open outdoor space conforn to the four goals laid out at the beginning of this presentation?
07:59 PM Where do all the new residents and visitors park?
08:01 PM Thanks for this presentation. Any consideration of Military Rd. up to Friendship Hts as that is the walking route to Metro?
08:01 PM Are we within walking distance of transit ? Where is the nearest transit? What is the frequency of transit for people that are in these areas?
08:01 PM Solar? seems to be a maximum residential development scenario… what happened to basekball and playground space adjacent to library and community cetner that is in great demand and constant use?
08:02 PM Do you envision some kind of shuttle transport from the Fr. Hts Metro stop?
08:02 PM Could some green space and/or a fountain be added in along Connecticut to create some natural gathering spaces.
08:02 PM Doesn’t underground parking compete with affordable housing? Both add costs. If you have more of one, you have less of the other, yes?
08:03 PM Why limit height to 65 feet? Why not make it consistent at 90 feet like the buildings below Livingston?
08:04 PM Thank you for all of your efforts. I think this vision would go a long way towards helping to address climate change and affordable housing. I appreciate the idea of keeping some of the individual storefronts on the west side as I think they have a lot of character. If this is further developed, I’d love to see bike lanes!
08:08 PM Where are alterantives and how was this alternative chosen… seems to respond to a question where can we maximize INFILLING… rather than plan and preserve
08:09 PM Responding to an earlier question regarding the height of buildings…having 90′ buildings will destroy the character of ChevyChase DC
Ellen McCarthy 08:20 PM Existing apartment buildings of Chevy Chase are already 90 feet.
08:13 PM Disappointing that the VISION here does not examine streetscape and existing retail for livable neighborhood. This areal view just seems again to maximize opportunity for in filling rather than any kind of vision for what this would feel like as an experience. So it answers one question…how many units of housing can you fit into this area… does not really provide a VISION. Appreciate the build up…but can use alot more refinement.
08:16 PM 900 square feet per unit is not family-sized. Affordable family-sized homes are a priority for this community.
08:18 PM 900 square feet per unit is not the size of unit that will attract teachers or public service employee with families. Our goal should be to provide housing within our neighborhood that is affordable for families not just single bedrooms or studios!
08:19 PM You know better. This is a vision that happens if the property owners think it works for them economically.
08:20 PM Then let’s encourage larger apartments
08:20 PM Will there be infrastructure developed for all the new families, like schools etc ?
07:50 PM On the screen, “Looking Ahead, Which models are best,” are these 65-75 feet high?
07:59 PM The renderings suggest fairly large buildings, but earlier you spoke of the promise of smaller parcels.
08:00 PM As for height, the height of the 5333 building was considered too high by many of us
08:01 PM Approximately how many residential units would be included in this 30 year vision?
08:01 PM 65′-75′ is 7 story building in your proposal, correct? The current zoning only allows 40′ high building which is 4 story and the scale is much better for the chevy chase circle. Why can’t your plan work as 4-5 story buildings?
08:02 PM It seems like the density of all of the fill-in townhouses is too great for the area
08:02 PM Why are the tallest buildings to be located at Chevy Chase Circle, which is at the top of the Connecticut Avenue incline? A better height transition would be to have the tallest buildings at Livingston and then go DOWN in height as you move north along Connecticut Avenue.
08:02 PM Thank you for this really helpful visual presentation. How does Ward3Vision’s suggested building height limit correspond to the proposed new heights that are being considered in the new zoning regs.
08:04 PM Didn’t the zoning regulation rewrite of 2016 restrict the amount of parking required and allowed in a new development? And developers generally demur from building much underground parking due to the cost.
08:05 PM Parking now fills the street areas to the west of Conn Ave on Saturdays and when popular movies are at the Avalon. With the planned density, it is imperative to plan for underground public parking.
08:05 PM If 750 new units, how many would be affordable under the updated IZ requirements? How does this number reflect the DC owned property at the library/community center? Is that assumed to be 100% affordable?
08:06 PM Does seem out of scale, and how does this relate to historic nature of Chevy Chase DC… This seems to ignore existing character…. This is maximum infill without regard to existing retail…
08:06 PM Just wondering how different heights on the two sides of conneticut will feel like. It might create an un balanced streetscape. Just a thought.
08:07 PM When you mention 65’ maximum height, do you include the 15’ penthouse? Note that penthouses now can include apartments. If yes than we have 80’.
08:07 PM In terms of “gateway” aren’t the taller buildings sending the message “welcome to the canyons of DC”. Is this the message we want to convey?
Ellen McCarthy 08:22 PM The apartment buildings just south of this area are all either 90 feet or 75 feet. Does that area feel like a canyon?
08:08 PM The FLUM allows for 80 feet, I believe.
08:08 PM Re parking, please consider that current apartments with parking lots charge for spaces (I think $150/mo. at the Kenmore as an example) which pushes residents to compete for parking on neighborhood streets. So offering underground parking would help but it needs to be affordable for new residents to use it.)
08:11 PM I’m surprised at all the pitched roofs. How about green roofs and entertainment space at the top of these buildings?
08:11 PM I apologize if you addressed earlier (I came in late)- will buildings be LEED-certified, in addition to the suggestions from other participants about solar panels, etc.? Margie
08:12 PM This is a 20-year plan…How does it begin?
08:12 PM The renderings indicate fairly large buildings, but earlier you spoke of the promise of smaller parcels. How should this be reconciled?
08:15 PM other than the community center and the library all the other property is privately owned how does dc get the rights to the other properties on the east side to do what you are suggesting? are you proposing eminent domain acquisition?
08:22 PM As for parking. Metro is 3/4 of a mile away. Well within walking distance for those who don’t want to drive. And if there is more density, wmata will then need to be pressured to provide better bus service.
08:23 PM Single-family house prices are astronomical all over the city — see Northeast! Affordable housing is not built by the market.
08:24 PM Nobody is suggesting eminent domain. Not happening here or anywhere in town except at Dave Thomas Circle.
08:24 PM To what degree have you looked at existing use of R3 90 FT height construction south of Livingston? Many large parking lots next to R3 buildings exist in that area – also much lower R3 height buildings on R3 space. Goals estimated by Ron could be exceeded in that area alone. Appreciate your vision / creativity – perhaps can consider this aspect. – also could reduce residential pressure above Livingston.
08:26 PM Just not true. Scarcity in Ward 3 is driving much higher prices here. Double the rest of town.
08:26 PM Compare/contrast and synergy – CC and Friendship Heights and Tenleytown
08:28 PM Other features that attract people to live in Chevy Chase are “good schools”, trees/green/and open spaces, convenience for shopping and transportation, the variety of architectural styles, and the relative beauty and safety of the neighborhood.
08:29 PM The greatest need for affordable housing in the city to which we are connected is for family-sized affordable housing. So that should lead to increased school population.
08:29 PM I lived on McKinley st. Movie crowds are a minor annoyance.
08:30 PM Planning is not real estate development. It is very much concerned with infrastructure, transportation, schools.
08:32 PM Schools are an issue. But the argument that building cannot happen until schools expand is not a reason to wait to build. If you are for more housing, this cannot be a condition precedent to building.
08:33 PM I was just in Kentlands. Was there form-based zoning to get the small store frontages? It does have a “home town” feel to the “downtown” area which also has sort of a “town square.”
08:35 PM The small area planning process is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. How’s the community to come to agreement on the long list of priorities you’ve listed as needing to be in the small area plan?
08:35 PM We should not assume that new housing won’t lead to additional school age children, especially if we add affordable units and townhomes. I agree that school crowding is not a reason to refrain from this plan, but we need to have an some assurance that the City will actually take the school impact into account. These issues need to be linked together or this plan will not benefit either existing students or new residents.
08:36 PM Why continue the angled positioning of the library & community center? I’ve wondered for decades why that was done.
08:37 PM That is what is being suggested.
08:39 PM My 30-something son is looking to move (from WA State) to Brookland, NE, which is another gentrification frontier, and the relationship of price to value is profoundly out of synch. Prices for homes that need incredible amounts of work are being driven up by flippers/speculators. For the same money, he could get something liveable here, but being a Millennial, he doesn’t want to live where he grew up.
08:40 PM To what degree have you considered and/or mitigated the impact of design related (needed) alleys / related traffic side street additional congestion / noise / trash disposal / smell / rodents and it’s impact to immediately adjacent homes? We have a shallow non transitional width area to residences. Net net seems to be more of a citylike urban transformation vs. the current less dense / open suburban feel.
08:43 PM I think it’s inaccurate to refer to the blocks east and west of Connecticut Avenue as suburban. More like an old small-town. Important to understand what we have, and what is cherished.
08:43 PM True about prices being inflated everywhere. Not true that Chevy Chase does not command a significant price premium from Brookland
08:44 PM Parking…parking…parking
08:46 PM “Charrette” or “charade”?