RE-IMAGINE AND RECREATE ADAMS MORGAN PLAZA SIGN THE UPDATED PETITION!
Adams Morgan neighbors have come together because we want to revive this open-air plaza at a crucial intersection of our neighborhood. It has been left largely in a state of disrepair and we wish to renew it by re-imagining how it could best serve our community. Nobody wants to keep the plaza as it is, and certainly not our organization.
This pedestrian crossroads is in the heart of ANC1C. Adams Morgan Plaza became an easement for public use by a “good neighbor agreement” between the Adams Morgan Organization (precursor to the current ANC) and the Perpetual Federal bank, the precursor to Crestar/SunTrust/Truist bank.
AdMo Plaza was fought for and won by our neighbors who opposed the bank that wanted to build on that parcel of land. The community wanted reparations from the bank for years of racist redlining against our Black and Latino neighbors. The bank was forced to grant the plaza which enabled the 1st DC Farmers Market, and also introduced the first Spanish-speaking tellers in the country, and offered loans with 10% down payments for homes and businesses. (see more history here).
What is the Issue?
A developer wants to take away the public easement that allows us use of Adams Morgan Plaza! The proposed design issued by SunTrust Bank/PN Hoffman & Potomac Partners calls for a seven-story Class A condo building without any family sized units and engrosses most of the usable current Plaza space leaving very little for the public’s use as originally intended. It is a tone-deaf design with no architectural respect for character of the neighborhood. It could just as easily be placed on K Street, or NoMa, or Detroit, or Tampa Bay for that matter. Just a very weak cut and paste effort all around. What a shame it would be for such a proud and historic corner and neighborhood.
Original presentation image of the 7-story monstrosity they want to build in the heart of Adams Morgan!
Our current effort is to maintain the easement allowing the Plaza space at 18thStreet Columbia Road NW DC to stay for public use honoring the anti-racist legacy of our neighborhood!
We did lots of research, unearthed critical documentation, and hired lawyer Paul Zukerberg who in turn wrote an opinion that the public has enjoyed an easement on this property for purposes of crossing, gathering, performing and farmers marketing since the bank was built in 1977.
The building and plaza space today was designed by leading DC architect Seymour Auerbach in a modern functionalist style with an amphitheater shaped public space for use by both vendors and community groups. The Plaza is one of the most used public squares in the city and is at the center of the annual Adams Morgan Day festival and many community events over the years. Over 600 people signed our earlier 2016 petition to “Save Our Plaza in Adams Morgan” to our Ward One Council Member.
The Southwest corner of 18thStreet and Columbia Road NW has a spirited history in Adams Morgan. It is the site of the Knickerbocker Theater and the tragic roof collapse from a blizzard killing 98 people in 1922. Later rebuilt as the Ambassador Theater, it hosted historical acts such as Jimi Hendrix, and later demolished in 1969.
Our Success So Far
In July 2017, along with the neighborhood group Kalorama Citizens Association we filed suit to stop the razing of the Plaza.
In August 2017, we won a preliminary injunction from DC Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman, and in Spring 2018 we had intended to present our case at trial. Read Judge Edelman’s decision here.
But in 2018, attorneys for SunTrust delayed all legal proceedings for more than two years by moving the matter of our corner plaza to Federal District Court.
Who are we?
Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development is a DC §11.29 Unincorporated Non-profit Association (UNA) founded in 2010. We are homeowners, renters, and residents living, working, and playing in Adams Morgan who are concerned about the future of our neighborhood. Our managers, which we call Facilitators, are longtime neighborhood residents Vikram Chiruvolu and Eric Blodnikar. We welcome direct contact from anyone concerned about the development of Adams Morgan.
Then, most recently, SunTrust (Truist) lands a blow to the Plaza in 2021, with the help of a conflicted local judge overturning his colleague’s prior decision.
If you believe that the public has a right to continue to use the Plaza as it has for over 40 years, and if you believe SunTrust (Truist) Bank has a responsibility to be a good neighbor and property owner in the neighborhood, please join us by signing up on our member list, sign the petition, follow us on social media, and attending one of our regularly scheduled meetings, which we often hold right on the Plaza (not happening now for obvious reasons).