by Andrew Ramonas May 2, 2016 at 12:45 pm 17 Comments

SunTrust Plaza (Photo via Facebook/Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development)The battle over the future of a large plaza in the heart of Adams Morgan has spawned a request to stop what some locals are calling a “Bethesda-like apartment complex.”

The “Save Our Plaza in Adams Morgan” petition, which went online Saturday, calls for the SunTrust plaza at 1800 Columbia Road NW to be “improved, yet remain a central community gathering space and plaza serving the residents of Adams Morgan.” But developer PN Hoffman’s plan to create a smaller plaza with benches, chairs and cafe space doesn’t cut it, according to some residents.

“We are opposed to the current PN Hoffman plan to build a 80+ foot tall Bethesda-like apartment complex that would subsume the public plaza we use and enjoy now,” the petition says. “We support city intervention that will protect our plaza from encroachment by any proposed project at this central site in our neighborhood.”

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

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

Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from our readers. Have something you want to share with Borderstan’s readers? Email us at [email protected].

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.

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by Andrew Ramonas April 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm 9 Comments

Adams Morgan community leaders last night moved one step closer to officially registering their opposition to a property developer’s proposal to revamp a large plaza in the heart of the neighborhood.

At a heated meeting filled with cheers and even some singing, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C committee backed a recommendation to formally notify D.C. officials of its resistance to PN Hoffman’s plans to build on the SunTrust plaza and the rest of 1800 Columbia Road NW.

The panel’s non-binding guidance argues that the D.C. government-backed “Adams Morgan Vision Framework” doesn’t support the developer’s plan for the plaza as part of a new mixed-use development. The framework calls for the privately owned plaza to serve as a “functional community gathering space” to host events, according to the committee’s recommendation.

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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.”

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by Andrew Ramonas April 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm 1 Comment

Future home of the Line hotel in Adams Morgan

A labor union that has peppered Adams Morgan mailboxes with postcards critical of a forthcoming neighborhood hotel has received a tongue-lashing from a community leader, who called its campaign “highly inaccurate and highly disparaging” last night.

Billy Simpson, a member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C, told locals at a community meeting he was “quite angered” by the mailings from Unite Here Local 25, which represents hotel workers in the D.C. area. The union is battling the owner of the future Line hotel at 1780 Columbia Road NW, Sydell Group, which won’t let workers unionize there.

The union’s most recent postcards stated that the hotel “seeks to bypass [the] full community process for [a] liquor license” and encouraged locals to attend yesterday’s meeting to “stand up and tell developers they need to #respectadamsmorgan.”

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by Borderstan Contributor March 9, 2016 at 11:30 am 17 Comments

SunTrust plaza (Photo via Wikimedia/AgnosticPreachersKid)

Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from our readers. Have something you want to share with Borderstan’s readers? Email us at [email protected].

by Billy Simpson

I was quite disappointed by the way that you have framed your poll on Borderstan concerning the proposed development at the SunTrust site in Adams Morgan. It perpetuates the false dichotomy that a community must either accept exactly what a developer proposes, or get nothing. For those who would take the time to familiarize themselves with the details of the site, it’s clear that there are several potential avenues for PN Hoffman to further its goals, while still preserving meaningful portions of the plaza for community use. And obviously, no one (to my knowledge) is arguing for preserving the plaza in its current condition. It would be renovated and beautified as part of any development.

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by Andrew Ramonas March 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm 27 Comments

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) A property developer’s proposal to construct a seven-story building on land occupied by a large outdoor plaza in Adams Morgan is getting a mixed reaction in the neighborhood.

PN Hoffman’s plan to build on the SunTrust plaza at 1800 Columbia Road NW has picked up backers and detractors after community leaders revealed the proposal last week.

Billy Simpson, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C member, on Wednesday said PN Hoffman didn’t present a “reasonable development” when it created renderings that showed only a small section of the current plaza open to pedestrians. Rather, Simpson has said he wants PN Hoffman to renovate and beautify the plaza, not make it smaller.

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by Andrew Ramonas March 3, 2016 at 3:35 pm 46 Comments

A property developer’s plan to construct a seven-story mixed-used building that would take up much of a popular outdoor gathering space in the heart of Adams Morgan is drawing an outcry from neighborhood leaders.

In a community meeting last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C members JonMarc Buffa and Billy Simpson blasted a PN Hoffman proposal to build on the SunTrust plaza at 1800 Columbia Road NW.

“I don’t accept this as a reasonable development,” Simpson said. “I personally am committed to ensuring that it does not move forward as they have planned. I intend to use every resource at my disposal as a resident of Adams Morgan to try to mobilize members of the community to try to stop this.”

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by Andrew Ramonas February 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Washington Gas truck (Photo via Flickr/DiamondBack Truck Covers)A Washington Gas crew responded quickly to a natural gas leak near Meridian Hill Park during last month’s blizzard and kept the area safe, a company spokesman said today in response to a community leader’s highly critical account of the utility’s work.

Commissioner JonMarc Buffa of the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission on Wednesday blasted Washington Gas for a lack of public notification about the Jan. 24 leak near 16th and Belmont streets NW and for what he considered a slow response by the company to resolve the problem. Locals “smoking on 16th Street could have blown themselves up,” he said then.

Jim Monroe, a Washington Gas spokesman, told Borderstan in an email that his company took the leak seriously and worked hard to fix it quickly and safely.

“Washington Gas responded quickly to this incident, one that occurred during an unprecedented winter storm, and took immediate action to ensure the safety of the area,” Monroe said. “Washington Gas personnel stayed on site to ensure safety until the pipeline repair was completed.”

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by Andrew Ramonas February 4, 2016 at 10:40 am 1 Comment

Beekman Place Gatehouse (Photo via Google Maps)(Updated at 12:55 p.m. Friday) Anyone smoking outside near Meridian Hill Park during last month’s blizzard was extremely lucky to have made it through the storm unscathed, an Adams Morgan community leader said last night.

Natural gas started leaking near 16th and Belmont streets NW on Jan. 24, filling the nearby Beekman Place gatehouse with fumes and making it “uninhabitable,” Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C commissioner JonMarc Buffa said. Washington Gas workers didn’t get the leak fixed until Jan. 26, helping eliminate a gas odor that locals could smell from Florida Avenue to Crescent Place NW, he said.

“Folks walking down the street smoking on 16th Street could have blown themselves up,” Buffa told residents at an ANC meeting.

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by Andrew Ramonas January 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

Adams Morgan

(Updated at 6:25 p.m. Thursday) A 48-year-old man charged with assault this month soon might lose the ability to move freely about Adams Morgan.

ANC 1C, the advisory neighborhood commission that represents Adams Morgan, is slated to vote next month on whether it should encourage prosecutors to pursue a stay-away order for George Pridgen. The man last week was charged in connection with an attack that caused “significant bodily injury,” according to online D.C. court records.

Prigden was arrested on Jan. 10 on suspicion of punching a 65-year-old man in the nose near 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, police said.

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by Jennifer Currier September 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

ANC1C meeting last night

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District met with Adams Morgan residents last night to discuss the shooting that left a man critically injured on 18th Street NW roughly two weeks ago.

Lt. Michael Whiteside told attendees at ANC 1C’s monthly meeting that the victim, who was brutally shot in the head in front of Amsterdam Falafelshop (2425 18th Street NW) on Aug. 29, survived the attack.

No arrests have been made in the case, say police, and the investigation is still ongoing.

Whiteside said that, despite having 25 officers within 10-15 feet of the shooting, none of them actually saw the crime occur.

“There were a bunch of us walking and jogging up the street because we could see a crowd and it appeared they were going to fight,” Whiteside explained. “It was just so crowded, we absolutely didn’t see it.”

Whiteside added that a changing social climate could be to blame for such public and violent crimes.

“My opinion is society has changed a bit,” Whiteside said. “It’s concerning to me that someone would shoot somebody with so many officers around. Who does that?”

Residents, commissioners and police then agreed that crime has been on the rise in Adams Morgan, particularly robberies.

Cmdr. Jeffrey Carroll, who took command of the Third District from former commander Jacob Kishter on Sunday, outlined his plans to combat such crimes in the future.

“We have crime suppression teams and overtime officers who will be focused in areas where robberies have increased in the past few weeks,” Carroll said.

“My personal feeling is once we address this robbery uptick and bring things back into line, we’ll be able to implement programs and policies to make sure this doesn’t turn from a blip in the screen to a long-term issue,” he added.

The ANC’s commissioners thanked police for their work and efforts, recalling that Adams Morgan is in a better place now than it was a decade ago.

Whiteside responded by emphasizing how community involvement can help police build on these improvements.

“If you see something, call 911 and give me a good look at the situation,” he said. “Be very specific and give me something to work with. The more information you give us, the better and easier it is for us.”

by Tim Regan June 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm 3 Comments

Modernization options A and B(Corrected at 1:47 p.m. on June 29) Adams Morgan’s ANC 1C is asking for online feedback on two proposals to modernize the Marie Reed Elementary School at 2201 18th Street NW.

The 2016 D.C. budget will allow the school to undergo a complete modernization over the next two years.

In the first proposal, the existing building would be reused and expanded for additional recreational space and health services.

In the second, only the eastern half of the existing building would be reused and expanded, and a new school and recreation center would be constructed on the southern end of the campus.

Residents can choose between the two concepts by voting online.

ANC 1C commissioners will tally the community votes and take final community comments at the commission’s next meeting on Wednesday, July 8 at 6 p.m. at Mary’s Center, 2355 Ontario Road NW.

by Borderstan.com December 20, 2010 at 5:00 am 0

14th and U NW Luis Gomez Photos Reeves Municipal Center

The holiday tree in the “DC Arts District” at the Reeves Municipal Center, 14th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Tree Lighting in Arts District

The coordinators of the Arts District branding project sent out email invitations last week to come to the “First Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony n the Arts District” at the Reeves Center, 14th and U Streets NW. Around 30 people, including Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) turned out for the 5 pm tree lighting. Andrea Doughty, one of the Arts District branding project coordinators, said that the final branding logos will be unveiled the week of December 20, and that the lamppost banners “are coming very very soon.” The banners were originally scheduled to have been up the first weekend of this month. (See Stuff You Might Have Missed: Arts District Update from December 6 and Wrap-up of Last Arts District Branding Public Meeting from November 10.)

MidCity Arts District, Uptown Arts District, DC Arts District

The invitation sent last week to Friday’s Holiday Tree lighting ceremony “in the Arts District” at 14th and U Streets NW contained a logo — but it’s not the final one. (Arts District branding project)

“Make liquor licenses collaborative, not adversarial”

Natalie Avery, former executive director of the MidCity Business Association, has a piece at Greater Greater Washington on how to make the liquor-license process in DC more collaborative and less adversarial. (Disclosure: Borderstan is a member of MCBA.) Borderstan’s Tom Hay has written extensively about Hank’s Oyster Bar and its desire to vacate its Voluntary Agreement and expand into the adjacent empty storefront. As Avery notes about Hank’s:

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