Judge issues injunction against Adams Morgan SunTrust redevelopment

Developers have applied for a permit to raze the bank building at 1800 Columbia Road NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/June 2017)

Plans to redevelop the Adams Morgan SunTrust may be in legal jeopardy, after a judge granted opponents’ request for a preliminary injunction on Friday.

Developer PN Hoffman hopes to construct a condo building at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, replacing the small bank building and much of the site’s plaza space. Though some community members welcomed the modern architecture and the promise of fresh vitality, others opposed the plans’ scale and the loss of the plaza.

After various design revisions, the project won Historic Preservation Review Board approval earlier this year. But the plaza remains an issue. Although it’s privately owned, opponents contend that the space was set aside for community functions when the bank building was constructed — a form of penance from the previous owner, Perpetual Bank, for discriminatory practices.

Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman has not yet decided the case, but his injunction freezes construction on the project until a verdict can be reached, according to a report by WAMU.

The project team argues that the opponents are simply grasping at all possible straws to prevent the legitimate redevelopment of private property. The developer and SunTrust further contend that there was no formal guarantee that the plaza space — currently used for the community’s farmers market and other events — would be available in perpetuity.