3900 Wisconsin Avenue Redevelopment (Fannie Mae) – City Ridge
NASH-Roadside 3900 Wisconsin, LLC (Roadside) is redeveloping an approximately 9.7-acre site that for many years served as the headquarters for Fannie Mae at 3900 Wisconsin Avenue NW. The property is bounded on the east by Wisconsin Avenue, on the west by Glover Archbold Park and on the south by McLean Gardens, a residential community of 31 low-rise buildings. On the north is a complex of offices at 4000 Wisconsin Avenue that once was used by Fannie Mae but is to be developed into residential housing.
Roadside initially proposed approximately 700 residential units, 34,488 square feet of general retail space, just under 86,000 square feet of grocery space (to be a Wegmans store), approximately 6,500 square feet of restaurant space to be operated by Wegmans, a 650-seat movie theater, 34,056 square feet of office space, 37,566 square feet of fitness club space, 34,056 square feet of cultural/arts space and an approximately 1,400-space, three-level, below-grade parking garage. Roadside also planned a 140-room hotel for the former Fannie Mae building.
Since then, the mix of uses planned for the development has changed. There will not be a hotel in the old Fannie Mae building because it was not commercially viable, according to Roadside. Instead, International Baccalaureate is moving its headquarters from Bethesda, Md., into the former Fannie Mae building. There will be no movie theater either.
The development will have three vehicular entrances: two on Wisconsin Avenue and one on 39th Street NW. In addition, there will be a pedestrian entrance on 39th Street.
CITY REVIEWS OF THE PROJECT
Large Tract Review
The development that Roadside proposed was permitted by zoning, so Roadside did not need to seek zoning relief for its plans. Roadside needed only to submit a large-tract review application, which serves as a way for the developer of a large tract of land to receive comments from city agencies and the affected ANC early in the planning and design of by-right projects.
The ANC in February 2018 made comments and recommendations to the Office of Planning as part of the large tract review, outlining concerns from residents of nearby McLean Gardens about increased traffic, parking issues and the proximity to McLean Gardens of a proposed truck entrance.
The ANC also raised concerns about the amount of traffic that will be generated not only by the Roadside development but also by a new addition to Sidwell Friends, which is across the street from City Ridge, as well as the redevelopment of 4000 Wisconsin Avenue.
The ANC urged Roadside to put a resident-only gate at the 39th Street entrance to discourage neighborhood cut-through traffic by people going to the nonresidential portions of the new development. Roadside declined.
The ANC also urged Roadside to include three- and four-bedroom units in the residential mix and to make 20 percent of the residential units affordable housing under the inclusionary zone definition. Roadside says it will have three-bedroom units but not four-bedroom units; it also does not plan to add more affordable housing than the 8-10 percent required under inclusionary zoning.
Historic Preservation Review Board
Roadside sought historic landmark designation for the original, iconic Fannie Mae building, formerly the headquarters of the Equitable Life Insurance Company, a request ANC3C supported. On Nov. 16, 2017, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) granted the historic landmark designation and approved Roadside’s conceptual design within a boundary around the historic building.
Public Space Committee
Roadside sought approval from the Public Space Committee to close an existing driveway on Wisconsin Avenue, install a new 36-foot-wide curb cut on Wisconsin Avenue just north of Rodman Street NW and extend an existing sidewalk on 39th Street NW into the new development.
Roadside also sought approval to install a traffic signal at the proposed curb cut, which would be 80 feet from the property line and 200 feet from an existing traffic signal at Rodman and Wisconsin. That curb cut would be used by trucks and other vehicles to enter and exit the property.
The ANC recommended that the Public Space Committee approve the developer’s request but with conditions, including that:
- The developer install sufficient landscaping to screen the truck entrance from view of the McLean Gardens residential buildings;
- The developer soundproof the walls of the vehicle entrance to help reduce the amount of noise generated by the trucks and other vehicles as they enter and exit the new site entrance;
- The developer fund a traffic study to determine the need for traffic calming measures in the neighborhood as needed, based on a determination of the neighborhood and ANC3C working in conjunction with DDOT six months after the residential and commercial spaces are 95 percent leased and occupied; and based on the determination of the traffic study fund up to $50,000 of traffic calming improvements; and
- The developer install a resident-only gate at the 39th Street entrance.
The Public Space Committee ultimately required the developer to adhere to the first three conditions but did not require that a gate be installed.
Working with the neighborhood
Soon after it purchased the property, Roadside representatives met with neighborhood residents to share initial plans for the development, seek feedback and listen to concerns. It continued to meet with the neighborhood as its plans evolved. As a result of the concerns raised by residents, Roadside:
- Moved its truck entrance farther from nearby residential buildings;
- Offered to install landscaping on McLean Gardens property to help shield the residential buildings from the new development;
- Removed from its plans an entrance ramp that would have led directly into the parking garage from 39th Street NW;
- Reconfigured its interior street system in an attempt to discourage nonresidential vehicular traffic from entering the development on 39th Street;
- Offered to defray the cost of new, more sound-resistant windows in the McLean Gardens buildings on the property line;
- Designed the development so the tallest buildings were on the north end and the shorter buildings were closer to the existing residential neighborhood;
- Put all its truck loading docks in the underground parking garage;
- Set up monitoring devices on McLean Gardens buildings on the property line to help determine whether construction activity is affecting the buildings;
- Offered office space during the demolition phase of the project to nearby residents who work at home; and
- Provided car wash vouchers to residents whose cars in a nearby parking lot got coated with construction dust.
The dialogue with the community continues.
Roadside representatives sit on a Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) created as part of a construction management agreement between the McLean Gardens condominium association, ANC3C and Roadside. This committee also includes two McLean Gardens residents, representatives from McLean Gardens board and management, and the AC3C06 commissioner. The NAC meets monthly to talk through construction issues and find solutions.
In addition, Roadside comes to town hall meetings at McLean Gardens twice a year to provide updates and answer questions
ANC resolutions relating to 3900 Wisconsin Avenue
ANC3C Resolution 2018-004
Regarding a DDOT Public Space Application (Tracking #264577), for a New Curb Cut/Driveway, Closing an Existing Driveway, and Extension of a Sidewalk, submitted by NASH-Roadside 3900 Wisconsin LLC, 3900 Wisconsin Avenue NW – Feb. 20, 2018