The preliminary planning for redevelopment of a block on the Montgomery County-District line shifts into high gear this month when the D.C. Zoning Commission opens hearings on the second of three large commercial developments near the intersection of Western and Wisconsin avenues NW.
A few months ago the zoning commission rezoned a two-acre tract on the southeastern corner of the intersection to allow the Donohoe Cos. and the Chevy Chase Land Co. to build a $90 million hotel, office and retail complex.
In February the zoning commission will hold further hearings on the Donohoe project to determine the height and size of the buildings, which the developers have proposed making eight to 10 stories.
On Jan. 23, the zoning commission will take up a proposal to rezone the block's middle two-acre tract, owned by the Miller Cos., which also developed the Connecticut Connection building at Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW.
The project would have "seven floors of office space and three floors of retail space," said J. Kirkwood White, attorney for the law firm of Linowes and Blocher, which represents Miller.
"We've presented two housing options to the zoning commission," White said. "One option is to build 16 town houses facing 43rd Street. The second is to build 129 apartment units. . . . The neighbors want town houses and the D.C. planning office wants apartments."
Recently, the commission received a rezoning application for the third parcel in the block, located across from Mazza Gallerie and the Friendship Heights Metro station. The developer, Abrams & Associates, has proposed a nine-story building that includes two stories of stores and seven stories of offices.
The three developments are proposed for a block that now contains mostly parking lots. The block is bounded by Wisconsin and Western avenues, Military Road, 43rd and Jenifer streets NW.
An underground roadway would link the three developments, to ease traffic congestion in Friendship Heights, one of the most traffic-laden communities in the area.
"Together, I would assume that these three projects are going to cost $200 million to $250 million to build," said Whayne Quinn, an attorney for the law firm of Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick and Lane, which represents two of the developers on the block. All three projects "will have an underground thoroughfare that will act as a spine for traffic entering the projects," Quinn said.
The roadway was proposed after citizens complained the complex would cause traffic congestion.
But the internal roadway has not quelled opposition from homeowners on the surrounding streets who have complained to the zoning commission that tall buildings would overshadow their suburban-like neighborhood and add to the mass of cars on its narrow streets.
Last year residents and members of the Friendship Heights Advisory Neighborhood Commission formed the Friendship Neighborhood Coalition, which met several times with the developers.
The coalition has asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to overturn the decision to rezone the land held by the Donohoe Cos.