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Friendship Heights Alliance Formed Thanks to ULI Washington Efforts

Friendship Heights Alliance Formed Thanks to ULI Washington Efforts

WASHINGTON, DC, January 16, 2024 — The Friendship Heights Alliance was formed at the recommendation of ULI Washington, an organization whose work has led to many significant changes throughout the region. In just three years, the Alliance has created a dynamic events program, public realm and placemaking initiatives, and bright, friendly branding to cohesively market the neighborhood. This Thursday, the Alliance will partner with ULI Washington on a mixer to give members an update on what has transpired and what lies ahead.

The momentum to form the Alliance directly resulted from a February 2021 ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) of leading land planning and community development professionals from around the region. The TAP report recommended several strategic moves for the neighborhood, including expanding residential capacity and mixed-use development, reenvisioning a significant WMATA parcel in the neighborhood, and several other transformational economic development efforts. The TAP report also encouraged deeper cross-jurisdictional collaboration and the formation of a place-centered nonprofit organization to help guide and catalyze transformation. 

“Chief among the TAP’s recommendations was the establishment of an Alliance among businesses and interested parties on both the Maryland and DC sides to help guide revitalization of the area,” said Bob Peck, co-chair of the ULI Technical Assistance Panel. “All of us who worked on the TAP are gratified to see how quickly the Alliance was established and are happy to celebrate what it is already accomplishing.”

“ULI Washington brings together the best minds in the region to solve complicated challenges – all with a dose of inspiration for how to change in the future,” said Friendship Heights Alliance Executive Director Natalie Avery. Avery led the complicated bi-jurisdictional legislative processes to secure sustainable, long-term funding for the Alliance in both Montgomery County and the District of Columbia. As of October 1, 2024, the organization is fully funded.

The Alliance was created to support the transformation of the neighborhood, envisioning a more vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive future for Friendship Heights, with diversity in housing opportunities and retail experiences, and a people-friendly, walkable public realm. The organization has installed 75 planters along Wisconsin Avenue, coordinated with stakeholders and public agencies throughout the neighborhood, and attracted thousands of people to free, culturally exciting events. More about the work of the Alliance and its future plans are available at and in the 2023-2026 Business Plan

“ULI Washington’s Technical Assistance Panel program is a unique offering that leverages ULI members’ expertise in service of creating better and more vibrant places,” commented ULI Washington Executive Director Deborah Kerson Bilek. “I’m so pleased that the recommendations that came out of this work continue to seed success, and I am excited for ULI Washington to continue collaborating with the Friendship Heights Alliance.” Register for the ULI Washington / Friendship Heights Alliance mixer here.

The 2021 ULI Washington TAP panel was sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the Executive Office of the Mayor, and the Montgomery County government, and heavily supported by the office of Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. Those partnerships and the panel itself led to a collaborative process moving forward. As Cheh left office, the Alliance’s formative period was significantly supported by Councilmember Matt Frumin in DC and by the office of Montgomery County District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson.

The ULI Washington panel also recommended a focus on history and reparations, which the Alliance has taken to heart. In December, the organization launched its second history exhibit in the Pepco substation gallery, focusing on the stories of Broad Branch and Belmont and how they affected racist development policies in the ensuing decades. A prior exhibit telling the story of Reno City and Fort Reno was well received and visible in the gallery windows for a year. Additional events surrounding Broad Branch and Belmont will be announced this spring at The current exhibit is visible from the sidewalk at 5210 Wisconsin Avenue NW through December 2024. More about the exhibit, and additional learning opportunities, is here on the Alliance website

About the Friendship Heights Alliance 
The Friendship Heights Alliance envisions a more vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive future for Friendship Heights, with diversity in housing opportunities and retail experiences, and a people-friendly public realm. This place-focused nonprofit coordinates the community building needed to reinvigorate Friendship Heights, focusing on the commercial corridor along Wisconsin Avenue from Oliver Street in Montgomery County, Maryland, to Fessenden Street NW in Washington, DC. The Alliance is a 501(c)6 nonprofit created in 2021 to increase collaboration amongst property owners in both Maryland and Washington, DC, as development continues; focus on public space management and coordination; promote the neighborhood; and engage with residents and businesses. For more information or to get involved, contact, visit, or follow the organization on Instagram @FriendshipHeightsAlliance

About ULI Washington  
ULI Washington is a district council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit education and research organization supported by its 2,000+ members. ULI’s mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI Washington carries out the ULI mission locally by sharing best practices, building consensus, and advancing solutions through educational programs and community outreach initiatives. For more information, visit