(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A developer has cleared a major hurdle in its quest to bring a seven-story, mixed-use building to the heart of Adams Morgan.
The District’s Historic Preservation Review Board this afternoon approved PN Hoffman’s plan to build on the SunTrust plaza and the rest of 1800 Columbia Road NW, despite significant opposition from community leaders on Adams Morgan’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C.
The developer, which needed the support of HPRB in order to begin construction, can’t start demolition on the bank property right away, however. HPRB gave its endorsement under the condition that PN Hoffman works with the panel to address its design critiques, including members’ calls to create a more exciting building for such a prominent location.
“It’s so compatible [with buildings in the neighborhood’s historic district] that it almost disappears,” HPRB member Rauzia Ally said at the meeting. “I just feel like this building deserves something that stands out a lot more than what is presented here. I feel like the design of it is lackluster.”
During the past several months, PN Hoffman and ANC 1C have fought over the design of the building, which once had a spire and large letters that spelled “Adams Morgan” down an exterior wall in early renderings.
The developer changed its plans multiple times in an effort to address concerns ANC 1C and HPRB had about the building’s aesthetic and size, which members of both panels said was too big for the property in meetings earlier this year.
But unlike HPRB, ANC 1C refused to support the developer’s plans for the site in its most recent meeting this month.
“This is simply not an appropriate size and scale for this location,” ANC 1C chairman Ted Guthrie said at the meeting today.
PN Hoffman principal Shawn Seaman said he was happy that his company’s project received almost complete support from HPRB in its vote today. (No HPRB member voted against the proposal, but member Graham Davidson abstained.)
“We are extremely pleased with the decisive HPRB vote today and look forward to refining the design details prior to final project approval,” Seaman said in a statement. “The HPRB was nearly unanimous in their opinion that the building height, massing, and placement on the site are compatible with the Washington Heights Historic District.”
Construction on the site will start in late 2017, he said.
Renderings via ANC 1C/PN Hoffman