The Emerging 1,000-Unit Friendship Heights Pipeline

  • December 1st 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

In the summer of 2020, Friendship Height's Mazza Gallerie mall was sold at a foreclosure auction, representing the culmination of dying retail in the neighborhood straddling DC and Maryland. Subsequently, the Urban Land Institute reported on the future of the neighborhood, lamenting its status as a "naturally-occurring retirement community" and urging bold new residential developments.

It seems that neighborhood stakeholders have taken heed, forming a BID-like alliance last month. Other signs of life have included a food hall announced in July, just as a new Amazon Fresh grocery store made it official. Also, the WMATA bus garage is slated to be replaced in 2025, potentially opening up more development opportunities.

Below, UrbanTurf takes a look at the residential projects that have sprouted up on both the Maryland and DC sides of the neighborhood this year.

5500 Wisconsin Avenue

This summer, Carr Companies and The Donohoe Companies shared plans for a mixed-use development that will replace the 44,700 square-foot retail structure that was previously home to Brooks Brothers and Saks Jandel, at 5500 Wisconsin Avenue (map). The proposed development would have two seven-story "shoulders" flanking an 18-story tower, delivering up to 380 rental apartments above up to 15,000 square feet of retail.

The Courtyard by Marriott hotel will remain and a 47 foot-wide woonerf, or a curbless pedestrian-friendly right-of-way, will run between the hotel and the new building. Between 45-57 of the apartments at the new development will be moderately-priced dwelling units (MPDUs).

The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved the sketch plan last month; the development team expects to file a site plan application next year. SK+I Architecture is the designer, and SpringHarbor Financial Group and Kruger Real Estate are also investors on the project. 

Lisner-Louise Dickson-Hurt Home Senior Housing

In July, the Abraham and Laura Lisner Home for Aged Women filed a map amendment application to upzone the Lisner-Louise Dickson-Hurt Home at 5425 Western Avenue NW (map), enabling a senior apartment development on the 5.4-acre site. The proposed addition is expected to be four stories tall and deliver up to 93 affordable one-bedrooms. Urban Atlantic is the developer and Wiencek + Associates is the architect.

The Zoning Commission voted last month to set the map amendment down for a hearing; a Historic Preservation Review concept application was also filed this week.

This entry has been updated since publication.

Mazza Gallerie Redevelopment

In late May, developer Tishman Speyer announced its purchase of the Mazza Gallerie mall on the DC-Maryland border (map). While details have not been released, plans are to incorporate existing retail space and the underground parking garage into a development with new rental apartments. Willard Retail is advising on the retail component of the redevelopment. 

Friendship Center Redevelopment

In September, Federal Realty shared plans to redevelop the Friendship Center, which houses DSW, Maggiano's, Marshalls, and the former Nordstrom Rack space at 5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW (map). The 130,000 square-foot building would be replaced with a development delivering 350 units above 12,000 square feet of retail.

Federal Realty plans to rezone the site from MU-5A to MU-9 and pursue a planned unit development (PUD) application, enabling considerable step-downs where the building abuts the existing townhouses to the east. The development team also hopes to secure a mid-block crossing on Wisconsin Avenue and add a story of below-grade parking, resulting in 180-250 parking spaces instead of the current 120 or so spaces.

As designed by Shalom Baranes and landscape architect Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, the building is expected to employ biophilic design, including green space atop the stepped volumes and gardens at the retail entrances.

Fox 5 Headquarters Redevelopment

While this development site was lumped in with Tenleytown in another UrbanTurf rundown earlier this year, plans have changed, so we included it in the burgeoning rundown for its own neighborhood.

In November, Donohoe Development filed a zoning application to build a six-story, 214-unit project at 5151 Wisconsin Avenue NW (map), the former WTTG-Fox 5 headquarters. The development would include a 1,500 square-foot retail or restaurant space at Wisconsin Avenue and Harrison Street, along with 86-167 vehicular parking spaces and at least 71 long-term bicycle spaces.

While Valor Development had previously proposed a 177-unit project on the site, the company withdrew its zoning application in late spring. Similarly to Valor's previous zoning application, the current application seeks to extend the MU-4 zoning (moderate-density mixed-use) 35 feet deeper into the split-zoned site. Torti Gallas Urban is the architect; the Board of Zoning Adjustment will consider the application next year.

See other articles related to: development rundown, friendship heights

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-emerging-over-1000-unit-friendship-heights-pipeline/18996.

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