Donohoe eyes Fox 5 site for 280-unit residential building

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Donohoe Development's proposal would require approval of extra density from the Zoning Commission.

Donohoe Development is proposing a 280-unit residential building at the site of Fox 5’s studios in Friendship Heights, the latest Wisconsin Avenue project likely to bring divisive debate.

The building would contain 28 affordable units, according to Donohoe, and 17,000 square feet of ground-level retail. It would add to a building boom occurring a few blocks to the south in Tenleytown, which has seen two new residential projects finish in recent years while 146 pending units at 4620 Wisconsin Ave. NW face a court challenge.

Donohoe Development also plans to build 716 apartment units at 4000 Wisconsin Ave. NW by 2024.

This latest project at 5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW would come after Fox 5 moves to a new headquarters tower in Bethesda. Donohoe plans to seek approval as a planned unit development, a zoning relief process that allows for greater density at a site in exchange for public amenities. The project timeline envisions the application being filed in January 2020, following D.C. Council approval of the revised Comprehensive Plan. Completion is scheduled for July 2023.

The building would be six stories and 65 feet tall with a penthouse, according to UrbanTurf. It would include underground parking. An area for outdoor cafe seating would exist, according to a presentation to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E in May.

The project would remove a 705-foot-tall signal tower and 1.1 acres of asphalt parking. No residential parking permits would be handed out. Thirty feet of setback would exist from the curb on Harrison, 42nd and Garrison streets.

One group of residents wrote in a letter to The Current that they supported the redevelopment amid some complaints that it is too dense for the lot.

“This redevelopment plan is a no-brainer,” wrote Aaron Berman and nine other residents. “It’s exactly what we need to attract quality retail to a busy part of Wisconsin Avenue, right next to Metro, while increasing affordable housing.”

In comments in response to the letter, a neighbor critical of the project expressed concern about the project’s scale overwhelming the nearby single-family homes, as well as the impact that lengthy construction would have on residents.