Greater Greater Washington

Development


Montgomery County isn't really waging war against suburbia

Some Montgomery County residents are accusing county officials of waging a "war against suburbia." But the county isn't coming for your single-family house, no matter who tells you otherwise.


Bethesda residents protest the Westbard plan. Photo by Sonya Burke on Twitter.

Last week, about 70 protesters from Bethesda demonstrated outside the Council Office Building over the Westbard Sector Plan, which would redevelop a cluster of 1950s-era strip malls off of River Road into a small-scale town center with new shops, parks, and up to 1200 townhomes and apartments. The council is set to approve the plan tomorrow.

Holding signs saying "suburban not urban," the group shouted down Councilmember Roger Berliner when he tried to address them, calling him "corrupt." Berliner, who represents Bethesda, had successfully convinced the council to reduce the amount of allowable development in the plan, which effectively limits building heights to six stories.

The group, called Save Westbard, is led by Jeanne Allen, former Republican state delegate candidate and charter school advocate. In an email blast two weeks ago, she called the Westbard plan "Orwellian" and says Berliner's "visits to Cuba and China influenced" his support for developing the area.


One of the shopping centers in Westbard today. Photo by Todd Menhinick on Flickr.

She argues that the county wants to "destroy" wealthy suburban neighborhoods like hers, overcrowding the roads and schools, and possibly changing the culture of her community. "Suburbs breed generous people," she says. "They have community meetings and fundraisers in their homes (on streets where people can park)...take care of one another's kids (who can play in yards)...suburbs have a purpose."

Is the county really at war against the suburbs? Save Westbard released a document called the Westbard Papers containing emails between county planners and attorneys for Equity One, one of the major property owners in Westbard, though they don't reveal anything illegal. And Allen refers to three-year-old comments from Councilmember George Leventhal (though not about Westbard) in which he calls the suburbs "a mistake."

Except in reality, Leventhal is talking about the spread-out nature of some suburban places, which forces people to drive really far for work or shopping, resulting in lots of traffic and pollution. He's not making a value judgment about suburbs, but instead acknowledging that some kinds of suburban development have negative costs.

"We see the substantial separation of residential areas from commercial areas from industrial areas from retail areas as a mistake," he says. "Because the very thing that was so marvelous when Olney and Gaithersburg and Wheaton were laid out in the 1940s and 1950s is now killing our planet. We can't afford to drive as much as we do, we have to change our land use patterns, our transportation patterns...Our heirs will blame us for our failure to do that. It's one of the culprits in climate change."

It's possible to have suburban neighborhoods where you can have a big house with a yard and still be able to walk to things. You only have to go about two miles east of Westbard to Chevy Chase to see what that looks like. That's why Montgomery County wants to focus development in aging commercial areas like Westbard, or Chevy Chase Lake, or White Oak. The county is built out, and investing in these areas gives current residents access to more things without having to sit in traffic, while accommodating future population growth.


Rendering of the Westbard redevelopment from Equity One.

There are many current Westbard residents who agree with Leventhal and Berliner that having new shops and amenities within walking distance is a good thing. The Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, which represents nineteen neighborhoods and condo buildings in the area, supports the Westbard plan, calling it a "compromise of different interests," including the developers and some residents who wanted less development.

Another petition circulated by Equity One includes signatures from 182 neighbors who support the plan. "Westbard is a highly affluent area of Montgomery County," reads the petition, "yet its streets are not pedestrian-friendly, its residents shop at an unsightly retail center surrounded by a sea of asphalt, it's service workers can't afford to live there, and its natural resources are among the county's worst."

And there are the people who have yet to live in this community. While looking for a job after graduate school, I worked out of the Westbard Giant giving out samples for a local bakery who sold cakes there. I got to know some of the people who worked there, and discovered that few of them lived in Montgomery County, let alone in the neighborhood. These are the people who have to drive long distances to work in Westbard, which is one of the most expensive parts of an already expensive county. The county's plan for the area would set aside 15% of new housing units for lower-income households, allowing some people who work here to live there as well.

Leigh Gallagher's recent book "The End of the Suburbs" might freak out any Westbard resident who likes the suburban aspects of their community, But Gallagher's argument is that suburbs aren't actually going anywhere, particularly affluent ones with good schools that are walkable. It bodes well for Westbard, but it doesn't mean that Westbard, or anywhere else, isn't totally immune to change.

Events


Events roundup: Let's watch a new sport

We're hanging out on Saturday evening, and we want our readers to join us! Come watch our editor play with his pro ultimate team. Also coming up: forums on new transit options in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, a walking tour of Wheaton, and a presentation of a potential new park design in NoMa.


Photo by Fred Wolf on Flickr.

Hang out with GGWash, watch a new sport: Our Staff Editor, Jonathan Neeley, is also a top ultimate Frisbee player and a member of the DC Breeze, DC's professional ultimate team. GGWash staff and contributors are going to watch him and the Breeze play this Saturday, May 7 at 6:30 pm at Gallaudet University's Hotchkiss Field. We hope you'll join us!

After the jump: BRT and other transit in Maryland, a NoMa park design, a Wheaton tour, and more.

Faces of Transit forum: The Purple Line and bus rapid transit could bring major change to Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. Hear from experts and neighbors and discuss what is working and not working in transit in your community at a forum hosted by Coalition for Smarter Growth and CASA de Maryland next Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 pm at 1 Veterans Pl in Silver Spring.

BRT in Maryland: The bus rapid transit that Montgomery County is working on will run on a portion of Route 355. To discuss preliminary plans for that specific corridor,, head over to a public meeting this Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 pm in the Gaithersburg High School cafeteria.

Student park design: Students at Stuart-Hobson Middle School worked with the NoMa Business Improvement District this semester to design a park for the NoMa neighborhood. Check out their designs at the CityVision reception at the National Building Museum (401 F Street NW) this Thursday, May 5, at 6 pm.

Wheaton tour: Join Coalition for Smarter Growth for a walking tour of Wheaton this Saturday, May 7, at 10:30 am to learn about Wheaton's planned transit, transit-oriented development, and future as an arts and entertainment district. RSVP for more information.

Talk about the housing shortage: A panel of housing experts will host a Q&A on the latest thinking and action around how to solve the region's housing crisis at a May24th forum hosted by Leadership Greater Washington. It's on the 12th floor of PNC Place, 800 17th Street NW, with breakfast and networking beginning at 8 am and the program starting at 8:30.

Calendar: Beyond what we've highlighted here, there are many other worthwhile events across the region. Check out more great events in our events calendar:

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers that should go on our events calendar? Send it to us at events@ggwash.org.

Development


This rule scattered "parking craters" around DC, but they're steadily disappearing

I recently wrote that a healthy downtown office market, plus a federal rule that has pushed offices outside downtown, have combined to fill in all of the "parking craters" in downtown DC. That doesn't mean they're totally gone, though. They've just moved to other places in the city.


Parcel A at the Yards, the largest "parking crater" in DC. Photo by Payton Chung.

Over the years, DC noticed the success it found in broadening the federal government's definition of the Central Employment Area, the space eligible for federal government offices. The District successfully lobbied the General Services Administration to widen the CEA further to encompass not just downtown, but also NoMa, much of the Anacostia riverfront, and the former St. Elizabeth's campus. Because the latter areas have much cheaper land than downtown DC, and lots of land to build huge new office buildings, federal offices are now drifting away from the downtown core.

A developer with a small site downtown usually won't bother to wait for a big federal lease, as the government wants bigger spaces at cheaper rents. It's easier to just rent to private-sector tenants. However, a developer with a large site within the CEA and next to Metro, but outside downtown, has a good chance of landing a big federal lease that could jump-start development on their land—exactly the formula that can result in a parking crater while an owner waits for a deal.

One recent deal on the market illustrates the point: the GSA recently sought proposals for a new Department of Labor headquarters. GSA wants the new headquarters to be within the District's CEA, within 1/2 mile walking distance to a Metro station, and hold 850,000 to 1,400,000 square feet of office space.

The kicker is the timeline: GSA wants to own the site by April 2018, and prefers if DC has already granted zoning approval for offices on the site. It would be difficult for a developer to buy, clear, and rezone several acres of land meeting those requirements within the next two years, so chances are that the DOL headquarters will be built on a "parking crater" somewhere in DC. Somewhere outside downtown, but within the CEA, like:

High-rise residential seems like it would be an obvious use for land like the Yards, which is outside downtown but atop a heavy-rail station. Yet even there, where one-bedroom apartments rent for $2,500 a month, it's still more valuable to land-bank the site (as parking, a small green area, and a trapeze school) in the hopes of eventually landing federal offices.

Many federal leases are also signed for Metro-accessible buildings outside the District, which helps to explain why prominent parking craters exist outside of Metro stations like Eisenhower Avenue, New Carrollton, and White Flint. (For its part, Metro generally applauds locating offices at its stations outside downtown, since that better balances the rush-hour commuter flows.)

One reform could fix the problem

One esoteric reform that could help minimize the creation of future parking craters around DC is to fully fund the GSA. Doing so would permit it to more effectively shepherd the federal government's ample existing inventory of buildings and land, and to coordinate its short-term space needs with the National Capital Planning Commission's long-term plans.

Indeed, GSA shouldn't need very many brand-new office buildings in the foreseeable future. Federal agencies are heeding its call to "reduce the footprint" and cut their space needs, even when headcount is increasing. Meanwhile, GSA controls plenty of land at St. Elizabeth's West, Federal Triangle South (an area NCPC has extensively investigated as the future Southwest EcoDistrict), Suitland Federal Center, and other sites.

However, ongoing underfunding of GSA has left it trying to fund its needs by selling its assets, notably the real estate it now owns in now-valuable downtown DC. GSA does this through complicated land-swap transactions, like proposing to pay for DOL's new headquarters by trading away DOL's existing three-block headquarters building at Constitution and 3rd Street NW.

In theory, it should be cheaper and easier for GSA to just build new office buildings itself. In practice, though, they've been trying to do so for the Department of Homeland Security at St. Elizabeth's West, and Congressional underfunding has turned the process into a fiasco.

Parking craters will slowly go away on their own

In the long run, new parking craters will probably rarely emerge in the DC area. Real estate markets have shifted in recent years: offices and parking are less valuable, and residential has become much more valuable. This has helped to fill many smaller parking craters, since developers have dropped plans for future offices and built apartments instead.


This now-closed parking lot in NoMa will soon make way for apartments. Photo by Payton Chung.

Even when developers do have vacant sites awaiting development, the city's growing residential population means that there are other revenue-generating options besides parking. "Previtalizing" a site can involve bringing festivals, markets, or temporary retail to a vacant lot, like The Fairgrounds, NoMa Junction @ Storey Park, and the nearby Wunder Garten. This is especially useful if the developer wants to eventually make the site into a retail destination.

Broader trends in the office market will also diminish the demand for parking craters, by reducing the premium that big offices command over other property types. Demand for offices in general is sliding. Some large organizations are moving away from having consolidated headquarters, and are shifting towards more but smaller workplaces with denser and more flexible work arrangements.

Unlike the boom years of office construction, there's now plenty of existing office space to go around. Since 1980, 295 million square feet of office buildings were built within metro DC, enough to move every single office in metro Boston and Philadelphia here. While some excess office space can be redeveloped into other uses, other old office buildings—and their accessory parking lots—could be renovated into the offices of the future.

Retail


Chick-fil-A's proposed Van Ness drive-thru is denied

A key review board has denied Chick-fil-A's controversial request for a drive-thru in Van Ness. But it might not have the last word.


An early rendering of the planned Chick-fil-A in Van Ness.

At its meeting on Thursday, April 28th, the five-member Public Space Committee voted unanimously to deny Chick-fil-A a permit to widen an existing curb cut for a drive-thru at 4422 Connecticut Avenue, which is now the site of the Van Ness Burger King.

The committee, which has five members from various DC government agencies, made its decision based on testimony from Chick-fil-A, Van Ness community members and representatives, and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Office of Planning (OP) staffers. Ryan Westrom of DDOT and OP's Tim Maher recommended against approving the curb cuts, concerned that the increased drive-thru traffic projected by Chick-fil-A would result in more conflicts between pedestrians and drivers.

Chick-fil-A says it'll stop traffic backups, but not persuasively

There is already a drive-thru here for Burger King, but it gets little traffic. A Chick-fil-A would draw much more. To try to prevent traffic backups, the store plans to have three to four employees taking orders on iPads on the north driveway, more employees at another station for taking cash in the back, and another area on the south driveway with a door for more staff to deliver the food. They also mentioned using the rear parking lot for overflow, assuming there would be available spaces.

"What would prevent a back up onto Connecticut Avenue?" they were asked. Chick-fil-A had a ready response: They would hire an off-duty police officer to direct traffic. Matthew Marcou, the chair of the Public Space Committee, raised his eyebrow at this, and quipped, "DDOT can't get any for other projects."

Chick-fil-A also promised to have additional staff on hand to quickly handle orders if a surge in drive-thru business was causing backups. ANC 3F Commissioner Sally Gresham said promises of "self-monitoring" – which Chick-fil-A representatives continued to stress – were not enough. The city had no enforcement mechanism, she testified, if Chick-fil-A did not uphold its agreements.

Community groups and experts oppose the drive-thru

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3F voted unanimously in February to oppose Chick-fil-A's drive-thru. Steve Gresham, a member of an ANC committee formed to study Chick-fil-A's application, testified about flaws in the drive-thru system, such as the lanes being too narrow to accommodate employees taking orders. And during peak hours of business, he said, cars could be blocking the sidewalk at either the entrance or exit of the drive-thru more than half of the time.

ANC 3F hired Karina Ricks, a former chair of the Public Space Committee, to consult. She stated in written testimony that the drive-thru did not meet regulatory muster. Ricks also said the drive-thru would create an unsafe environment for pedestrians and bicyclists – conditions that would run counter to DDOT's moveDC, the long-term DC transportation plan, and the goals of Vision Zero to reduce all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the District to zero by 2024.

In addition, she said, the city was making substantial investments in Van Ness, in planning and implementation, to create a vibrant, walkable commercial area.

The Chick-fil-A can thrive without a drive-thru

Dipa Mehta, a co-chair of the economic development committee of Van Ness Main Street, presented research showing a safe, walkable environment is a key ingredient to fostering economic development. The car traffic generated by Chick-fil-A would be detrimental to the business climate at Van Ness, she said.

Chick-fil-A has stated in the past that the Van Ness location does not currently generate enough pedestrian traffic to support its business. However, I as a Van Ness Main Street board member testified that Chick-fil-A was underestimating the chain's potential to attract walk-in customers from the immediate area, given the large number of high-rise residential buildings nearby.

Marcou asked Chick-fil-A about pedestrian traffic in Tenleytown, where Chick-fil-A is building a restaurant without a drive-thru. The answer: They had not done a pedestrian count there.

Though comments on Forest Hills Connection articles about Chick-fil-A's plans indicate at least some residents support a drive-thru, the opposition has been more outspoken and organized. A Ward 3 Vision petition opposing the drive-thru collected 366 signatures. In addition, The Northwest Current published an open letter to Mayor Bowser from several signatories, including the owners of Bread Furst and Acacia Bistro, and co-presidents of the Hastings Condo Association, representing the building just north of the site at 4444 Connecticut. They asked for Bowser's support in opposing the drive-thru.

Only one resident testified in support of the Chick-fil-A drive-thru. However, he explained that he had business ties to the location. He said similar driveway situations exist in nearby locations – at the Park and Shop in Cleveland Park, at the Whole Foods in Tenleytown, and at the Tenleytown CVS – and pedestrians adjusted.

Committee member Reg Bazile cut him off. "Those locations are not similar," he said.

Marcou recommended that Chick-fil-A continue to pursue a Van Ness location, only without the drive-thru element. Chick-fil-A also has the option of going to court. That's what a citizens' group did in 1980, when a Burger King franchisee sought and received permits for the drive-thru in 1980. The court sided with the franchisee.

Van Ness Main Street President Mary Beth Ray said the community would support the restaurant without the drive-thru. "Our research has shown how wildly popular their food is, and we hope [Chick-fil-A's] interest in Van Ness goes beyond the drive thru," Ray said in an email. "Van Ness is open for business."

This originally ran on Forest Hills Connection.

Links


Breakfast links: Derailed


Photo by JRE313 on Flickr.
A bad derailment: A 14-car 14 cars of a CSX train derailed in Northeast DC, disrupting some Red Line service and leaking hazardous chemicals. Although the leak was contained, MARC service on the Brunswick Line remains delayed. (WTOP)

The battle over Westbard: The debate over a proposed mixed-use town center at Westbard in Montgomery County has assumed an angrier tone. The plan calls for over 1,200 new housing units and can better serve the next generation of residents. (Post)

Transit for Tobytown: Historically African-American Tobytown, MD is poorer than many neighboring communities and lacks bus transit. Montgomery officials want to fix this by starting a shuttle bus service, which is less expensive than a regular bus line. (Post)

Office oversupply: Developers are looking beyond downtown and into emerging neighborhoods like the Navy Yard to construct new office buildings. But this has created an oversupply of office space, with older buildings most likely to be vacant. (Post)

Reconsidering DC's 'burbs: Many home buyers in search of a walkable, transit-friendly neighborhood that find themselves priced out of the District are now considering more affordable communities in the inner-suburbs like Mount Rainer and Hyattsville. (Post)

Keeping the space in AdMo: The developer turning Adams Morgan's Sun Trust Bank into a mixed-use development defended the plans in a letter, noting that the plaza design changed to leave more space than initially planned. (Borderstan)

Sidwell friends or enemies?: A tenants' group protested the Sidwell Friends School which purchased a nursing home to accommodate its lower school. The change would displace over 100 seniors. (Washingtonian)

Young and ready to build: Bay Area residents in their 20s and 30s are more likely to support measures to increase the housing supply. That's probably because they are more likely to struggle with finding affordable housing. (SF Business Times)

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Links


National Links: From Florida to California

Miami is moving forward with big transit plans, Connecticut towns have a unique model for building affordable housing, and many have trouble seeing LA as urban because of how car-centric its past is. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by Humberto Moreno on Flickr.

Sunshine State expansion: Six rapid transit projects are now part of Miami's Metropolitan Planning Organization's long range plan. Many of these lines have been in previous plans, but they're now being made top priorities, which bodes well for their future completion. (Miami New Times)

New Affordability, CT: Cities in Connecticut are required to have 10% of their homes be affordable. If that isn't the case, developers can effectively ignore the zoning code as long as they build 30% affordable. This has led wealthier communities pushing for affordable housing. (New York Times)

Dirge for dingbats: The "dingbat," an infamous Los Angeles architecture form that's basically just a box-like apartment stuck on top of an open carport, is slowly disappearing for more aesthetically pleasing, dense, and safe structures. Are they worth restoring and preserving? (LA Weekly)

Edge City redux: Outside of Miami, the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades make it so there isn't space to keep sprawling out, so buildings are going upward. Translation: Urban city centers are going up in the suburbs. (The Economist)

LA through #nofilter: Many still see Los Angeles as an ugly ode to cars and endless concrete, even as the city shifts toward becoming more traditionally urban, dense, and walkable. Why? It's hard for people to see beyond LA's built origins as a car-centric city. (Colin Marshall)

Uber exit: Uber is threatening to leave Houston if the city does not repeal regulations that require drivers get fingerprints taken and go through a licensing process. The company has already left three cities in Texas and is threatening to leave Austin as well. (Texas Tribune)

Tashkent trams: The capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, is shutting down its tram system. Opened in 1912, it is one of the oldest in central Asia. A lot of locals say the city is losing both a convenient and green form of transport, and a piece of its charm. (BBC)

Quote of the Week

"The idea is that by using a cryptographically secured and totally decentralized authority that can work at the speed of a computer, we should be able to keep power distribution, water treatment, self-driving transportation, and much more from ballooning beyond all practical limits as cities continue to grow." Graham Templeton on using Bitcoin Blockchain to run smart cities. (Extreme Tech)

Meta


Did you know Greater Greater Washington has a home base?

Until the end of last year, Greater Greater Washington operated out of coffee shops and David Alpert's basement office. As the staff grew, so did the need for more permanent space. We moved into one in November!


1100 Connecticut Avenue NW.

With a small budget of $1,800 a month, we set out to find bright, centrally-located space in DC that could accommodate four people, and offered access to conference space. After looking at a half dozen potential options including co-working spaces, private spaces, and shared office space, we found what we were looking for.

Since November, we've called suite 810 at 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW home.

Here's a tour of our offices

We rent two offices and share the use of a small and large conference room with our suite mate, Olender Reporting.


Floor plan of our office suite.

Jonathan Neeley, our staff editor, and David Whitehead, our housing program organizer, share one office.


David (L) and Jonathan (R).

On any given day, you'll find Jonathan busy at his DIY sit-stand desk editing contributors' posts. David on the other hand, is in and out of the office, often meeting with people who want to help Greater Greater Washington support more attainable housing for more people in DC and the region.

David Alpert and I share the other office.


Sarah Guidi and David Alpert.

You'll find David here on Wednesdays and Fridays, meeting with staff about the blog, our housing program, and strategic directions of the organization. During the rest of the week, David is engaging in a research sabbatical of sorts: he's taking a deep dive into the economics of housing, development, and growth to better understand the forces that shape housing costs and identify the most promising solutions for making housing more abundant and attainable.

I am here in the office most days and spend my time supporting staff and volunteers, fundraising to keep the blog and our growing housing program going strong, and keeping track of our finances.

Meet our interns

Having dedicated space also meant that we could welcome two interns from Arizona State University!


Skyler Daviss (L) and Megan Kelly (R)

Skyler Daviss and Megan Kelly set out to do a semester in DC to learn about international development and advocacy. When their original placement fell through in March, we made a quick decision to welcome them for their final five weeks. They've been a great addition to the team these past few weeks and we'll miss them when they wrap up their internship this week. Thanks, Skyler and Megan!

And our neighbor


Corey Nichols of Olender Reporting.

Olender Reporting's Corey Nichols occupies the other office in our suite. We've piqued his interest in urbanism, and he even joined us at the Nationals game a few weeks ago and met some of our contributors.

Come visit!

Now that you've seen where we work, let us know if you want to come visit! Whether you're a contributor who needs some space to work on a post, or a reader who has a great idea you'd like to tell us about, come on over.

Transit


Get to know all the buses in the Metrobus fleet

Want to know more about your daily bus ride? Have you ever noticed how many different Metrobus models there are out there, and need help distinguishing between buses that look quite similar? Become an expert at identifying Metrobus with this handy guide!


All images by the author.

Our region has one of the most diverse transit networks in the country, and even within only the Metrobus system, there's a level of variety that you may not have noticed.

Using some of the info I collected when I started making posters of transit projects from around the country, I put together this guide to each vehicle of the Metrobus fleet.

In total, the bus fleet consists of 1525 buses of these various different types. Some of these service different purposes (i.e. articulated vs. short buses), and others are meant to expand the fleet or replace aging equipment.

According to Metro, the Metrobus fleet transported over 130 million passengers in 2015.

The buses service over 11,100 bus stops and another 2,500 bus shelters, from 288 routes and 174 lines.

The Metrobus fleet is ever-changing, as WMATA replaces about 100 buses a year to keep the fleet operating smoothly. New buses arrive every week, as part of the current five-year order with New Flyer (previously NABI).

Development


Interning in DC? Here’s how to find a place to live.

DC's shortage of affordable housing options touches lots of permanent residents, but summer interns struggle with the problem as well. Below are three ways to find a place to stay when you're only coming to DC for the semester.


My home during my internship, at Connecticut and Cathedral NW.

Each season, a new wave of unpaid interns in search of work experience floods the nation's capitol. And before interns even arrive to DC, the search for housing acquaints them with the city's high cost of living. The housing market is already short on affordable options, and the need for short term leases and access to public transportation means even more barriers.

As most interns in DC are unpaid, the main qualifications for housing are that it's cheap, close to transport, and a short term lease. These three requirements can make for a lengthy and exhausting housing search within the current DC housing market.

Here are three go-to options for interns who are on the hunt:

1. Get housing through your school or program

Some lucky students' universities pick out housing out for them, usually in a building specifically designed for students. Because of the demand, many apartment complexes in DC are starting to specialize in short term leases for these students interning in DC. Universities sending students to DC frequently use this option, but interns searching for a short term lease can use it as individuals as well.

One example is where I currently live, Washington Intern Student Housing, aka WISH. WISH, along with Cheap Intern Housing and Cassa Housing, are some of the options for students searching for apartments with short term leases mostly occupied by students. At the WISH Woodley Park location, interns are offered a convenient location, but at a steep price: Places start at around $1,000 a month, and that's in a three-bedroom apartment where you're splitting a room.


The kitchen in my WISH apartment.

2. Stay in a local college dorm

Another option for summer interns are the university dorms from schools like American, George Washington, and Georgetown. This option offers students a chance to experience life at an University in DC, but for a price ranging from $310 to $450 a week for shared rooms.

These universities have web pages (linked above) dedicated to attracting and informing students about their summer rates and availability, along with contact information or an application for housing.

3. When all else fails… try Craigslist

The third option for interns is the exasperating Craigslist search. This option is not for the faint of heart, especially during the summer when the demand is the highest. I have some friends who sent dozens of emails to potential roommates, but even after weeks of trying never found a place to live.

In a Craigslist search, make sure to respond to a listing as soon as possible, but also be wary about your potential roommates. If your Craigslist search is not successful many interns might just turn to option one intern apartments, even though they can be a higher price.

It's possible to feel at home even if you're only here briefly

Once you find housing, be aware that life as an intern can be tough. It's not uncommon for city dwellers to have to make lots of maintenance requests, for everything from rat removal to broken refrigerators. It can also be hard to assimilate, as you're in DC for much longer than a tourist, but you aren't here for good.


Decorating a space is a go-to way to turn it into a home.

But the benefits to interning in DC outweigh the cost and stress of housing. In DC you have the opportunity to explore countless museums (for free), attend enlightening events, and network with inspiring people. And when it comes to feeling at home in your apartment, try making and spending time with friends, decorating, and cooking family recipes.

Do you have any tips for interns coming to DC?

Links


Breakfast links: Metro on message


Photo by Steve Fernie on Flickr.
New on the WMATA Board: US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx replaced 3 of 4 federal WMATA Board appointees with top safety officials from federal transportation groups. (WAMU)

Red rapid repairs: Metro will conduct a "maintenance surge" to repair the water leaks that caused last week's smoke incident. Trains will single track between Van Ness and Medical Center midday, evenings, and all weekend. (WAMU)

Metro's empty chair: Metro's Paul Wiedefeld has been a very accessible General Manager. So why did Fox 5 leave an empty chair for him, suggesting his unwillingness to do an interview, during their morning show? (Washingtonian)

Cemetery land swap: The Army wants to add 38 acres to Arlington Cemetery as soon as 2018 through a land swap with Arlington County. In return, the county would get land for transit and traffic improvements on Columbia Pike. (WTOP)

Prince George's future: Many Prince George's residents have resisted dense, walkable urban renewal, perhaps because it looks too much like the cities they fled from. But without change, the county's success and prosperity could become just another source of nostalgia. (Washingtonian)

OurRFP in Ivy City: DC wants to lease an old, historic school with a huge parking lot in Ivy City. Under the "OurRFP" pilot program, DC will seek developers based on what the community wants: space for recreation, job training, small business, or mixed income housing. (WBJ)

The lead feet of Metrobus: Metrobus operators have picked up 2,300 traffic tickets since 2010. Overall, violations for speeding and running red lights and stop signs have gone down after increased driver training and monitoring. (Post)

Promises on the Old Post Office: Donald Trump won the bid to renovate and lease the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue with lofty promises on historic preservation. But now it seems a lot of that was just talk. (BuzzFeed News)

Arlington on the ped beat: The Arlington Police Department cracked down on drivers ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks and pedestrians crossing outside of crosswalks in Clarendon and Crystal City this week as part of an annual safety campaign. (ArlNow)

And...: DDOT will repair 64 alleys in all eight wards as part of its third annual AlleyPalooza campaign. (City Paper) ... Boston's City Council voted unanimously to lower speed limits to 20 mph across the city as part of Vision Zero. (Boston.com) ... DC Police will remind drivers not to leave valuables in their cars with educational "tickets." (PoPville)

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