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VICTORY! Judge stops razing of Plaza!

Today’s win is official! Here is the DC Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman’s Judgment transcript (37 pages PDF) and one-page Preliminary Injunction Order received from our talented DC pro bono trial attorney Paul Zukerberg.  Anyone can show this to anyone with a bullldozer on our Plaza in Adams Morgan! 🙂  This PI means it will not be razed while the court reviews our case in  full to establish the public easement going forward, which the judge ordered will be on an accelerated timeframe through this fall—we’ll get to hear the real story from all those who were party to the Plaza’s creation & related experts!

Looks like we’ll have a clear decision, which could potentially establish the easement in perpetuity by spring!  For this next phase of the trial,  Paul has let us know that realistically costs for expert witnesses, visual exhibits, court clerk, and video deposition costs could run to $10K.

So so many people have given of their time, care, expertise, resources, official capacity, influence, fresh produce, and funds! THANK YOU ALL!!

As of now, we at AdMo4RD have $54.00 in the bank as most all funds raised so far were spent on filing fees, land title search, exhibits, and witness travel—shared equally with Co-Plaintiff Kalorama Citizens Association. If you’re in a position to give to help cover legal costs, click here.

ALSO:
On the evening of Wednesday, August 23 from 7 to 9pm, we held an open service meeting on the Plaza & had 15 people come out and commit to being of service in the coming weeks and months.

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Hoffman filed for raze permits. It’s go time!

FeaturedHoffman filed for raze permits. It’s go time!

Despite our many successes, the Plaza now hangs in the balance. We’re going to court soon to fight for it & we need AdMo4RD Save Our Plaza members’ help:

  • send us any feedback you’ve got on the case in writing this week

  • give as generously as your budget reasonably allows to support the case

  • contact us to offer help on the case and the campaign

And the market is in full swing again this Saturday, June 3—we’ll be meeting at the Plaza at noon to help welcome the farmers back and show our support!  
Click for the full update…  [links to Google doc of email sent to our list]

DC Historic Preservation Board Asks PN Hoffman to Come Back

Press Release: Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development, 202 670 2366 admo4rd@gmail.com

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:

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.

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Community Strongly Opposes PN Hoffman Condo Project

Concerns Raised About Public Easement on Plaza 

Adams Morgan, DC, Wednesday, September 21, 2016 – A throng of PN Hoffman’s brightest talents brought their latest designs to Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and residents at a packed public meeting at Mary’s Center.  Of the more than thirty people in attendance, the reaction was swift and almost entirely in opposition to the project, with only two people speaking in support of the latest design iteration, Online here –   http://tinyurl.com/suntrust-plaza-design-sep-2016

“Don’t destroy our Plaza,” said 40+ year Adams Morgan resident Mary Jane Owen. “The plaza honors one of the community’s victories against racism, and it can be it refurbished.” Owen references the dedication of the plaza in atonement for bank redlining back in the 1970’s. “Our built environments and memorials are reminders of our historically important neighborhood struggle against discrimination.”

After questioning, PN Hoffman representatives admitted they did not own the site yet. Suntrust Bank has not sent representatives to any public meetings yet.

Further, the PN Hoffman team proclaimed the plaza to be “private property” and that deed searches have not demonstrated any known ownership issues. In stark contrast stood Vikram Surya Chiruvolu who said, “We have discovered several critical documents that show the Suntrust site is encumbered with a public easement [PDF, links to AdMo4RD attorney Paul Zukerberg’s preliminary legal opinion]” and that his group, Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development, “will pursue the full measure of the law to protect this public plaza space.”

“By building right up to or nearly to the bank property line, the proposed out-of-scale apartment will act like a tall wall blocking the wonderful light and air on 18th Street,” said Monica Bose, Adams Morgan artist.  “The adverse impacts of a project this massive in this neighborhood context is unacceptable given how central this site is to Adams Morgan.”

Further, the PN Hoffman team failed to bring any dimensional measurements of the area of plaza that may remain after dropping their condo project on the site. Residents believe the latest design leaves about 300 square feet of the existing 2,500+ square foot public plaza space.

“How do you come to a long-anticipated public meeting about this critical project without measurements of the most controversial aspect of the project — the elimination of the plaza,” said Chris Otten, 2016 ANC Candidate.

Some residents claimed that PN Hoffman’s latest design plan renderings depict the existing Adams Morgan commercial strip along the west side of 18th Street  (Julias Empanadas, inter-alia) as bigger and taller then what they really are. But PN Hoffman representatives fired back and proclaimed that people like Denis James, president of the Kalorama Citizens Association (KCA) were purposefully “manipulating” their photos to hurt their project.  James scoffed at the notion, defiantly holding up his cellphone and challenged PN Hoffman walk to the site and take photos with him.  They  declined reticently.

In the end, the ANC Committee voted in the majority to not support the latest PN Hoffman designs for the Suntrust site.

On October 5, 2016, the ANC as a whole will give one final review before PN Hoffman intends to seek approval by the DC Historic Preservation Review Board in late October.

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