Press Release: Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development, 202 670 2366 firstname.lastname@example.org
DC Historic Preservation Board Asks PN Hoffman to Come Back With Design Changes to Suntrust Plaza Project
Plaza Advocates Immediately File Freedom of Information Request
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C. – Last Thursday, October 27, 2016, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) had mixed opinions about Monty Hoffman’s proposal to build on the SunTrust Plaza, replacing the open public space with a 70+ foot tall condo project. Some HPRB Commissioners asked that it come back for further review, while others were satisfied and supported Anne Brockett’s Historic Preservation Office report seeking approval of the project.
Video here ( http://ec4.cc/jf6333467 – At 3hours 37minutes you will see the resolution that was actually passed: HPRB supports the project given that design changes requested are implemented, and that unless the community has concerns after the revisions it will be coming back on the Consent calendar.)
At the prior HPRB hearing in June 2016, HPRB Commissioners made it plain that if the community were to find any information as to the public control of the Suntrust Plaza then to bring this to their attention for the October hearing.
In response to HPRB, the community submitted:
- Hundreds of petition signatures of Ward One residents seeking to save the plaza,
- 50+ individual letters submitted to HPRB plus lengthy verbal testimonies in opposition,
- an Advisory Neighborhood Commission resolution in opposition,
- a Kalorama Citizens Association resolution in opposition,
- the recent letter from Councilmember Brianne Nadeau supporting preservation of the plaza,
- a trove of documents from the archives of Washingtoniana showing the plaza was given to the Adams Morgan community back in the 1970’s,
- a legal memo showing the public rights to Suntrust Plaza as indeed a historically public-controlled space and remains so to this day.
But at the October 27 hearing, the Chair of HPRB, Gretchen Pfaehler, cast aside HPRB’s prior position of interest in the public control of the plaza and said that the easement is “not in the purview” of preservation officials and would not play a role their decision.
“I was very disappointed to see HPRB dismiss without consideration the issue of an easement on our plaza,” stated Vikram Surya Chiruvolu, key organizer with Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development. “An HPRB firmly on the side of its historic preservation duty to the community would have tabled considering the PN Hoffman plan until the historic public easement issue was properly resolved.”
“It doesn’t help to have a Historic Preservation Office report that ignored the history of our plaza and the overwhelming opposition to its destruction,” said Chris Otten with the #SaveOurPlaza Alliance. “Further, the Hoffman project sets the stage for dismantling the prevailing character and heights of both Adams Morgan historic districts.”
The day after the hearing, Chris Otten filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting emails and other documents shared between PN Hoffman and Historic Preservation Office staff and HPRB Commissioners. “We want to explore possible collusion between preservation officials and a highly-connected developer who appears to have been politically awarded this arbitrary project approval,” said Otten, who is also running as a candidate for the Adams Morgan ANC.
At the end of the October 27 hearing, HPRB Commissioners did not approve the HPO report, but asked that PN Hoffman come back for further review of the requested basic design changes.
The project is anticipated to be back before the HPRB this month or early December.
— realityDC (@dc4reality) October 27, 2016