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.