2021 | Development

18-story apartment building proposed for Friendship Heights

380 units, ground-floor retail included in proposal

share this

A rendering of a proposed development project at 5500 Wisconsin Ave.

via Montgomery County Planning Board

This story was updated at 9:40 p.m. Nov. 13, 2021, to correct the spelling of Donohoe.

A proposed development project in Friendship Heights with 380 apartments in an 18-story building is expected to get early approval next week from Montgomery County planners.

The project, at 5500 Wisconsin Ave., would have ground-floor retail, and designate 15% of the new units as affordable housing, in alignment with county law.

Led by Carr Companies LLC and Donohoe Development Company LLC, the project also includes constructing a new street connection between a Courtyard Marriott hotel that already exists on the property and the future development. The road would connect Wisconsin Avenue to The Hills Plaza.

Carr and Donohoe bought the property for $74 million in early January. At the time, the companies said they planned to take over management of the hotel, which will continue normal operations. They also said they planned to redevelop other portions of the property, but gave no details about the proposal.

A below-ground, two-story parking garage with 391 spaces is included in the project plan.

The Montgomery County Planning Board will consider the application during a meeting on Nov. 18. Planning Department staff members have recommended approval.

If approved, however, project leaders will still need to return with more detailed plans before the Planning Board grants final approval.

In October, the Friendship Heights Village Council voted 5-2 to oppose the project, according to a letter to the Planning Board included in project documents.

Council members opposed the height of the building, saying it will “protrude like a sore thumb above the roofline of neighboring buildings.” Residents were concerned that building an 18-story building next to a 15-story apartment building will “canyonize the street,” reducing light “on the entire block of S. Park Ave and otherwise making it aesthetically unattractive.”

The council also wrote that the proposed new street connection is too narrow and does not provide enough room for delivery vehicles and other traffic or pedestrians.

In a response to the council’s concerns, an attorney for the project wrote that the street is “generously sized to accommodate both vehicular and pedestrian users” and the new building will not affect the amount of light on the street.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com