Friendship Heights Village drops opposition to 5500 Wisconsin redevelopment in Chevy Chase

The Friendship Heights Village Council now supports the planned redevelopment of 5500 Wisconsin Avenue, after losing an appeal to a Montgomery County Planning Board’s approval of a sketch plan for the project.

The village council has signed an agreement with Donohoe Development and Carr Properties in which it withdrew its original opposition.

The village council’s agreement comes after a Circuit Court ruling that upheld the County Planning Board’s decision.

“The Village Council’s decision to support 5500 Wisconsin comes after months of negotiations and reflects Friendship Heights residents’ overwhelming backing of our proposal,” said Jad Donohoe, senior vice president of development for Donohoe Development Company.

Here’s the 2021 rendering of the development at 5500 Wisconsin Ave. in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The blue arrows show wind flow; the yellow arrows show sun path. (Courtesy Donahue Cos./Carr Cos.)

Donohoe and Carr jointly acquired the entire block, including both 5500 Wisconsin and 5520 Wisconsin, for $74 million last year. It’s currently a stretch of retailers and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. The hotel will be updated and operated by Donohoe Hospitality.

Through a Donohoe and Carr joint venture, SpringHarbor Financial Group and Kruger Real Estate, the southern portion of the block will be redeveloped as a trophy residential mixed-use development that will include retail space.

The existing ground level retail space was built in 1970. The hotel original opened as a Holiday Inn in 1970 and became a Courtyard by Marriott after a major renovation in 2009.

The block is across the street from the upscale retail strip The Collection at Chevy Chase, and two blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro station.

The Friendship Heights Village Council did win some concessions through its agreement to support the development, including pick up and drop-off spaces for delivery vehicles on Shared Street, 10 additional garage parking spaces, and the reduction of the number of units in the 18-story residential building from 380 to 320.

Donohoe will also pay $1 million to purchase development rights at 4608 North Park Ave., and transfer them to the 5500 Wisconsin property.

The developers have pledged to focus retail leasing on small, locally focused shops.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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