PN Hoffman CEO Pens Open Letter to Adams Morgan Locals

by Borderstan Contributor April 29, 2016 at 10:15 am 11 Comments

1800 Columbia Road NW revised rendering (Image via ANC 1C/PN Hoffman)

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Dear Neighbor,

PN Hoffman is excited to create a mixed-use development and thoughtfully enhance the plaza area to activate the corner at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW. I’d like to share with you the key aspects of this development, explain our collaborative approach and invite you to provide us with your feedback and support.

The community benefits offered by the redevelopment plan for 1800 Columbia are numerous, and a few are highlighted below:

  • The project will include a new 58-unit condominium building with a portion of the units set aside as affordable housing; this enables homeownership in an established community where new housing supply is limited;
  • Neighborhood-serving ground floor retail; creates a dynamic and enlivened streetscape that will engage pedestrians while reconnecting the retail on both Columbia Road and 18th Street;
  • A re-envisioned plaza that will activate and reinvigorate this important corner with landscaping and seating providing opportunities for a variety of community gatherings and an aesthetically pleasing entrance to the Adams Morgan neighborhood;
  • The project will be sustainable, bringing new local jobs to the neighborhood, seeking LEED Silver level certification, and providing green roofs and rain gardens.

In PN Hoffman’s 23-year history in the Washington, D.C., area, including six developments in Adams Morgan and Kalorama, we have always sought to bring a balanced mix of thoughtful design and sensitivity to the neighborhoods in which we serve. We are continuing this approach as we move forward on this very important site. Below you will see a few examples of our collaborative effort to date with the ANC and community to turn 1800 Columbia into a celebrated destination and neighborhood gateway.

One of our design goals for 1800 Columbia is to be consistent with the historic context of the site. In keeping with historic character, our initial concept sought to replicate the footprint of the Knickerbocker and Ambassador Theatres, which operated in the early and mid-20th century until the Ambassador was demolished in 1969. However, in our initial meetings with two of the ANC Commissioners, including the Single Member District representative, they expressed a strong desire to preserve the size of the existing plaza. While this remains private property, we worked with our design team to provide a significantly larger plaza than our original concept. We redesigned the massing of the building by shifting valuable square footage from the corner of Columbia Road and 18th Street to the alley-facing portion of the site. This adjustment to the plan eliminated prime retail and units from the building but enabled us to create a strong addition to the public realm. A rendering of this plaza is above.

A second redevelopment goal for 1800 Columbia is to preserve the Farmers Market, which not only is recognized as a neighborhood institution, but also provides a valuable service to the Adams Morgan Community. Accordingly, we remain committed to preserving the Farmers Market in the heart of Adams Morgan. To this end, we have pledged our resources and efforts to the operators to assist in a seamless transition to ensure this service continues uninterrupted. More specifically, we have already met with the Office of Planning and District Department of Transportation to determine viable alternate locations, which include BB&T Plaza (directly across the street) or nearby Unity Park. A map of the proposed locations can be found here.

A third redevelopment goal is to work within the zoning regulations to avoid seeking additional density and height through a Planned Unit Development process, which would allow a height of up to 90 feet at this location; our project is approximately 70 feet in height. Through our continued community outreach and engagement we have received some feedback regarding our interpretation of zoning nuances which determines the rear yard setback of our building design. The condition in question was enhanced in part by our accommodation of shifting massing from the front corner of Columbia Road and 18th Street to the area of the site that Zoning regulations consider the “rear yard” and the unique triangular nature of the site. This interpretation has support of the District government, and this particular zoning nuance has numerous precedents throughout the city. To remain responsive to the residents and commissioners that may feel uneasy with our proposed approach, we are seeking rear yard relief in the form of a special exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustment to resolve this question directly.

As we continue to work with our neighbors and stakeholders, we welcome your input. Please send your support, recommendations or thoughts about 1800 Columbia by email or mail using the addresses below. We welcome you to attend the upcoming ANC meeting (information can be found below). We greatly appreciate your time and look forward to working with you to build a stronger Adams Morgan.


Monty Hoffman


[email protected] (Please include your name, phone number and identify if you live or work within ANC1C’s boundaries.)


PN Hoffman & Associates
c/o Adams Morgan Input
680 Water Street SW
Washington, DC 20024

Upcoming ANC Meeting:
Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 7 to 10 p.m.
Mary’s Center
2355 Ontario Road NW
Washington, DC 20009

Monty Hoffman is the chief executive officer of PN Hoffman.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Borderstan. Read Borderstan’s most recent story on PN Hoffman’s proposed development here.


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