loading...

Most Controversial Redevelopment of the Year: SunTrust Plaza

  • December 19, 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

UrbanTurf usually stays away from publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year when we look back at what DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. So, this week we are looking at not only the best but the most intriguing and peculiar things that came across our radar over the course of 2016. Enjoy.

image
Design revisions to 1800 Columbia Road NW. Click to enlarge.

While neighborhood dissension is an inevitable component of the DC-area development boom, there isn’t much competition for the most actively debated project in the pipeline this year: the redevelopment of the Adams Morgan SunTrust building and plaza.

PN Hoffman and Potomac Investment Properties’ plans for 1800 Columbia Road NW (map) consisted of a 70-foot building with 60 condominium units atop approximately 8,375 square feet of ground floor retail.

However, the plans for the site commonly termed as the “gateway to Adams Morgan” quickly drew the ire of many in the neighborhood. Concerns emerged regarding the height, massing and design of the building, as well as the future of the stepped plaza that now stands on the corner.

And despite architect Eric Colbert and Associates presenting at least three design iterations before being approved (with caveats) by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), opposition has been ongoing from the ANC 1C and a vocal coalition of neighborhood residents whose primary gripe is the loss of the privately-owned plaza area that currently fronts the bank, which has been home to farmers’ markets and community events (if not necessarily welcoming for everyday lounging) for four decades.

image
Design revisions to 1800 Columbia Road NW. Click to enlarge.

Ironically, early complaints from the community about the building’s design prior to the HPRB review process led to the plaza gradually shrinking as massing was shifted elsewhere. Based on their estimations, the development team has suggested that the public can also use the open space on the opposite corner of 18th and Columbia or a block down Columbia Road at Unity Park — which will likely happen anyway as the farmers’ market will have to relocate during the 18-month construction period.

The HPRB, while seemingly sympathetic to concerns over the plaza, has designated the matter to be one for the courts and not for the Board. The plaza apparently was offered to the community in the 1970s as de facto public space as an admission of culpability in redlining practices — two decades after the historic district’s period of significance ended.

A legal opinion by Paul Zukerburg as solicited by Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development states the following:

The plaza enjoys an easement for the benefit of the public created in 1977 through a public dedication by its then owner, Perpetual Savings and Loan. The transfer from Perpetual to Crestar (now SunTrust) via quitclaim deed for the nominal consideration of ten dollars did not disturb that easement. Accordingly, there is currently an easement for the benefit of the public on the Plaza portion of the SunTrust parcel. Redevelopment would need to respect the public easement in the Plaza and be restricted accordingly. The developer could not simply build on top of the public Plaza. Building on the existing easement would be a trespass on the easement, and the basis for a civil action for injuctive relief.

While it remains to be seen whether the coalition of disgruntled residents will file suit to stop the development, PN Hoffman et al. are returning to the HPRB early next year to seek approval for some revised aesthetic details.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/most_controversial_rdvlpt_of_the_yr_suntrust_plaza/11972

3 Comments

  1. mellodcd said at 9:31 am on Tuesday December 20, 2016:

    While controversial to some, I don’t think this project even comes close to the level of controversy around McMillan Park.

  1. cohiresident said at 12:11 pm on Tuesday December 20, 2016:

    that mosaic tile is horrible! Why do they need to add that? I would like to see more brick designs…not some cheap tile that doesn’t fit in with anything

  1. Brett said at 12:55 pm on Wednesday December 21, 2016:

    I agree with mellodcd. McMillan Park was shrouded in 10+ years of controversy. By comparison, Suntrust Plaza was a walk in the park.

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾