Adams Morgan Leaders Say No Thanks to Latest SunTrust Site Plan

by Andrew Ramonas September 22, 2016 at 10:40 am 15 Comments

A developer once again has failed to win over community leaders in its bid to put a new mixed-use building in the heart of Adams Morgan.

In a 2-1 vote last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C’s planning and zoning committee recommended that the full ANC continue its fight against PN Hoffman’s plans to redevelop the SunTrust property at 1800 Columbia Road NW.

The panel’s decision came amid the developer’s campaign to garner the support of the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board, which must sign off on the project before construction can begin. Echoing concerns the ANC had about a previous version of the proposed building, HPRB members in June expressed dissatisfaction with the structure’s aesthetic and size.

PN Hoffman then revised its plans. But ANC members said yesterday they still weren’t satisfied.

“I don’t think you’ve taken enough steps” to change the design, said ANC 1C commissioner JonMarc Buffa, who leads the planning and zoning committee and voted against the developer’s proposal. “I’d like to see a building on this spot. I just don’t think this is the right building. It’s not a binary choice. It’s not a crappy plaza or your structure.”

In an effort to address concerns about its former plans, PN Hoffman lowered sections of the building on 18th Street to five stories, reduced the development’s height by five feet and bulked up the front of the structure, cutting the size of its proposed plaza by five feet, according to the developer.

“We’ve really spent a lot of time talking with the community at large, the ANC commissioners, the Historic Preservation Office, the Department of Transportation and the [Historic Preservation Review] Board itself to really refine our design, the mass of our building, the height of our building,” said Bao Vuong, a vice president of development for PN Hoffman.

Like Buffa and ANC 1C commissioner Wilson Reynolds, who also voted against PN Hoffman’s plans, most of the locals at the meeting yesterday weren’t happy with the developer’s newest proposal.

Wendy Glassmire, an Adams Morgan resident, said she was “extremely disappointed” with PN Hoffman.

“It’s a giant, huge building that just doesn’t fit in,” she said.

But PN Hoffman’s revisions do have at least some support in the community.

ANC 1C commissioner Alan Gambrell, who was the only member of the planning and zoning committee not to oppose the developer’s new redevelopment plans for the SunTrust site, said he understands that PN Hoffman is a business that needs to make money.

“I do appreciate the fact that it is private property,” he said.

The full ANC is expected to vote on PN Hoffman’s latest proposal Oct. 5. The HPRB likely will consider it later that month.

Renderings via PN Hoffman

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