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Hostility to Adams Morgan Plaza Face-Lift Remains Despite New Plan

by Andrew Ramonas April 11, 2016 at 9:45 am 32 Comments

The latest proposal from a property developer looking to build on a large Adams Morgan plaza has failed to win over a key community leader who has pushed to keep much of the outdoor space open to the public.

PN Hoffman on Friday released updated renderings of a seven-story mixed-used building it plans to construct on the SunTrust property at 1800 Columbia Road NW. Although the new design leaves more outdoor space than an earlier proposal, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C member Billy Simpson wrote in an email to locals that the developer “need[s] to do better.”

“The project is located within the Washington Heights Historic District which raises a number of concerns about the scale of the proposal under the Historic Preservation Guidelines,” said Simpson, whose district includes the SunTrust property. “And while the revised plans preserve a small plaza, that space will be used primarily by PN Hoffman’s own commercial tenant, and does not leave adequate room to host Adams Morgan’s weekly farmers market or the other community uses to which the space is put from time to time.”

Shawn Seaman, PN Hoffman’s senior vice president for acquisitions and development, said in a statement that his company has “diligently maintained a track record of working with communities” for more than two decades.

“Our revised concept design sets the building further back from the corner and provides a more generous outdoor plaza,” Seaman said. “Specifically, the project will activate the corner with the addition of complementary street-facing retail and vibrant landscaping, an amenity which the current condition of the property does not provide. In addition, PN Hoffman remains committed to identifying a location for the farmers market and assisting in its relocation within the neighborhood.”

In the revised renderings, the revamped plaza includes large planters, benches, chairs and an outdoor cafe space for a tenant.

Despite Simpson’s opposition to PN Hoffman’s plaza redevelopment plans thus far, the company has backers.

More than 64 percent of respondents in an unscientific Borderstan poll on the developer’s initial plaza renderings expressed support for the construction of a building that takes up much of the space that is open to pedestrians today.

PN Hoffman representatives are scheduled to attend an ANC meeting on April 20 to discuss their plans. The meeting is open to the public.

Images of renderings via ANC 1C/PN Hoffman

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