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New ANC commissioner to prioritize affordable housing, local business support

Courtesy of Luke Chadwick
Luke Chadwick, an incoming commissioner in the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

A local governing body is set to fill its sole vacancy this week.

Luke Chadwick, a second-year master’s student in Georgetown University’s urban planning program living in Columbia Plaza, said he will be sworn in as the newest member of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission on Tuesday, restoring the commission to its nine total members. He will represent 2A05, the single-member district encapsulating Columbia Plaza, Shenkman Hall and the Remington apartment complex, with the goal of informing residents on the local scene and advocating for affordable housing and local business development.

“I want to continue making sure people are engaged and aware of what’s going on,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick said he heard about the District’s vacancy shortly after former 2A05 Commissioner Kim Courtney resigned from her position in July. He said he submitted his petition to fill the vacancy in December to advocate for Columbia Plaza residents’ interests in the ANC.

“When I saw that no one had filled it by the fall, I decided to take my chance at running and filling the vacancy,” Chadwick said.

D.C. officials redrew the ANC districts across the city near the end of 2022 to align with new census data. Courtney was the first to fill the new 2A05 seat in February. The body has struggled to reach legally mandated quorum since Courtney’s resignation, with at least two members having missed every meeting since May.

Chadwick said he was happy with Courtney’s efforts to engage and inform Columbia Plaza residents about local happenings. Courtney sent regular emails to constituents while she was in office.

Courtney said she wishes Chadwick the best and is pleased he will fill the vacancy.

“I met with him and am familiar with his background and qualifications,” Courtney said in an email. “I believe he will do a great job.”

Chadwick said he plans to promote affordability and discourage development in Columbia Plaza, especially in the ANC’s work providing recommendations to D.C. on the review of the Comprehensive Plan, a legally binding District document that guides the Zoning Commission on housing, land use and public service policies.

The ANC held a community meeting in February 2021 discussing a proposed change to the plan that would have allowed for the construction of a larger building at Columbia Plaza and weighed in on the current iteration of the Comprehensive Plan in February 2020 — recommending prioritizing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening infrastructure in response to climate change and supporting housing for LGBTQ+ residents.

“The top priority for everyone is making sure that we can all keep living here in Columbia Plaza,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick said he expects the review process of the plan will start this year or next year, with the deadline for the plan’s update set for 2025. He said Columbia Plaza residents discussed the impact of previous development efforts when he conversed with them during the process of collecting more than 50 signatures for his candidacy.

“Columbia Plaza is the most important source of affordable housing in our ANC,” Chadwick said. “I had been following the efforts to redevelop the plaza and was worried that no one was going to be there to stand in the way when that issue comes up again.”

Chadwick said a local business support project, like the District-coordinated Main Street Program proposed in a study released last month, could bolster the businesses in Columbia Plaza and add more “vibrancy” to the area. He said as a cyclist, he also would like to see additional bike lanes in the neighborhood, especially because most GW students do not own cars.

Chadwick said he has appreciated the ANC’s support for a new homeless shelter in The Aston, a former GW residence hall, but understands why nearby property and business owners are “nervous” about the proposed conversion.

“I’d really like to be supportive of that and ensure that they have all the resources to ensure that it’s successful,” Chadwick said. “There’s a big opportunity there to help people on the streets.”

Chadwick said the ANC’s job is to make residents feel heard, which he feels commissioners worked to achieve through the recommendation of a Community Advisory Team to oversee the shelter.

“I’m not under the impression that it’s going to be easy work,” Chadwick said. “But it’s important work, and to me, seeing so much turnout for issues like that shows how passionate people are about their communities.”

Chadwick said he met with 2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel on Friday, and he hopes to meet with other commissioners and attend the body’s next regular meeting Wednesday.

Patel said she looks forward to working with Chadwick.

“The sentiment from a lot of us is, when it’s somebody we don’t know, we hope for the best,” Patel said.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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