The plaza, while privately owned, hosts many public events, including the weekly farmer’s market and Adams Morgan Day.
PN Hoffman’s current redevelopment plans would expand the building into the plaza, making room for a six-story, 60-unit condo building with 6,500-square feet of retail on the ground floor. A small plaza is included in the plans, but it would not be big enough to host the farmer’s market.
This disruption led to an early backlash.
PN Hoffman officials postponed plans to attend a March 16 meeting with the Area Neighborhood Commission’s Planning, Zoning and Transportation committee after neighborhood representatives told them to proceed with caution.
“The farmer’s market — that’s what we hear about most frequently,” Shawn Seaman, senior vice president at PN Hoffman, said in an interview. “In a meeting with previous commissioner Billy Simpson and current chair Ted Guthrie, they said there would be considerable angst in the community if we went forward on the 16th. We know that solving for that is a critical component of the redevelopment.”
Online forum Borderstan has been the community sounding board on the topic, and commenters have mixed reviews.
“Just walked by,” wrote commenter Vernon6. “It’s an ugly, windswept noplace for 90% of the year.”
“No, absolutely not!,” wrote guenna77. “That plaza is an essential part of the neighborhood. It would destroy a big part of the character of that intersection and what makes Adams Morgan distinctive.”
The firm met with the farmer’s market organizers and have identified a potential relocation site, at the plaza in front of BB&T on the northeast corner of the intersection.
“It’s in the public right of way, and it probably has more flat, contiguous space that the SunTrust plaza,” said Seaman. “We can put forward the management and legal resources necessary to make that a seamless move for the market organizers.”
The neighborhood commissioners also told the firm to look into other solutions, such as moving the building back, reducing loading requirements, or investigating the possibility of the city purchasing the plaza. Some of these options, said Seaman, would go beyond current zoning code, requiring relief and approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
Current plans are by-right, and the firm would be able to proceed without approvals from the zoning board.
Developers are working with the Historic Preservation Office and Review Board, which would determine whether to approve the design.
The plans, designed by Eric Colbert and Associates, include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos. SunTrust has the option of returning to the site as a retail tenant, and PN Hoffman may seek a restaurant to fill the remaining retail space, said Seaman.