ANC voices concerns about new hospital

The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission expressed concern about the proposed site of a new GW hospital and discussed student housing issues related to its construction at a meeting Wednesday in the Marvin Center.

Commissioners raised strong concerns about student enrollment and whether the construction of a new hospital will help the community. The members created a response to GW’s submission to the Board of Zoning Adjustment. The zoning board had requested more information about the building at its Jan. 5 meeting.

At the conclusion of the BZA hearing last month, the board said GW had not “met the objections of the community and the Department of Public Works as to the impact of the proposed hospital on its neighbors,” according to the ANC response, which had to be submitted Thursday.

One of the main ANC concerns addressed in the response is the “egregious discrepancy” between GW’s high student enrollment and its on-campus housing. Members said the inadequacy of student housing has an “adverse social and economic impact” on the Foggy Bottom community and the city.

The commission had proposed that the University build a residence hall on the site and recommended modernizing the current hospital, but removed the recommendation from its report.

Because only 3,272 undergraduate students can be accommodated on campus, the resulting overflow pushes out moderate-income residents who could otherwise live and work in the neighborhood and destroys the “social fabric of a permanent residential community,” according to the response.

Commissioner Richard Sheehey (2A06) said the language about students offends him. He called it an “attack on students” and abstained from the final vote on the report.

The residence hall proposal, along with a list of the apartment buildings that are occupied mostly by students, was cut from the response. But a few paragraphs that expressed concern about enrollment and housing were retained.

The response also addressed traffic congestion and safety issues surrounding the hospital’s loading docks.

In their submission to the BZA, University officials said they would request delivery trucks not use Foggy Bottom’s residential streets.

GW’s report to the BZA outlined 23rd Street, west on H Street and north on 24th Street as the preferred route.

The reply noted, however, that the designated streets are residential and concluded that the designation of residential streets as truck routes is “unacceptable” to ANC members.

Members agreed on the response, 4-1. GW student Steven Mandelbaum was the only dissenter.

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