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D.C. SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE HALTS DESTRUCTION OF SUNTRUST PLAZA UNTIL TRIAL

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman on August 4 issued a preliminary injunction to stop the destruction of the SunTrust Plaza at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW so that a trial can be held to determine whether the public has an easement to continue using the popular spot for a farmers’ market and other events.

The Kalorama Citizens Association and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development sought the injunction to stop the construction of a luxury condominium building by developer P.N. Hoffman. The planned building would cover the entirety of the 16,000-square foot lot, including the existing 4,000-square-foot plaza.

Judge Edelman said the community groups presented evidence at two hearings in July that showed that the public would suffer “irreparable harm” if the plaza were destroyed before the court could decide whether a public easement on the plaza exists. He put the case on a fast track to allow it to come to trial early in 2018.

KCA and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development argue that developer PN Hoffman cannot build luxury condominiums on the plaza portion of the site, because the public for nearly 40 years has enjoyed an easement given to it by the plaza’s original developer, Perpetual Federal Savings & Loan Association.

The farmers market on the plaza, 2016 (photo by Mary Belcher)

“The judge found there was a substantial likelihood that we’re going to win on the merits, and the defendants are prohibited from blocking public use of the plaza until the final decision,” attorney Paul Zukerberg said following the judge’s ruling. “Thanks to this decision, the future of the plaza is going to be decided by a judge and not a bulldozer.”

Dancers on the plaza at Adams Morgan Day, 1982 (Photo by Nancy Shia)

Adams Morgan activists in 1976 opposed Perpetual’s plans to build a branch at the site because of the bank’s discriminatory lending practices and because the vacant lot at 18th Street and Columbia Road had long been used by community vendors. In an historic effort, neighborhood groups took their case to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Atlanta, which had to approve the bank’s plan to open a new branch on the site. The groups dropped their opposition only after Perpetual agreed to change its lending practices and to build and dedicate a plaza for public use.

Click here to read Judge Edelman’s order granting the preliminary injunction. Click here to read the complaint, the motion for a preliminary injunction, and the motion exhibits.

Zukerberg, whose office is just a block from the plaza, is representing KCA and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development on a pro bono basis, generously donating his time and expertise. But there will be many costs to bring the case to trial, including court fees, transcripts, exhibit preparation, and others. DONATE NOW TO HELP KEEP THE PLAZA OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! MAKE YOUR CHECK OUT TODAY TO THE “KCA PLAZA LEGAL EXPENSE FUND,” AND SEND IT TO KCA, P.O. BOX 21311, WASHINGTON, DC 20009. OR DONATE BY CREDIT CARD VIA PAYPAL HERE:


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KCA: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO

THE KALORAMA CITIZENS ASSOCIATION is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1919 to promote the interests of the residents of Adams Morgan, DC. Meetings are at Good Will Baptist Church at Kalorama and Columbia roads, where we host civic leaders, activists, and experts on a range of timely issues. Our activities are:

  • Historic Preservation: KCA is Adams Morgan’s chief advocate for historic preservation. Click on Historic Adams Morgan for details and reports.
  • Parks: KCA supports the Biltmore Triangle Garden and sponsors walking tours of Kalorama and Walter Pierce Parks. Click on Parks for more.
  • Neighborhood Development and Zoning: KCA works to mitigate challenges to our neighborhood’s quality of life that arise from development pressures. Click on Development & Zoning for more.
  • Neighborhood agreements with liquor-serving establishments: KCA pursues voluntary agreements with liquor-license-holding establishments to ensure that the interests of residents are being served. See Business Agreements for details.

To join KCA, annual dues for single members are $25 and $40 for household memberships. Go to Join & Donate

To contact KCA, you can email President Denis James at denisjames@verizon.net or call him at 202-232-8829. Our mailing address is: Kalorama Citizens Association, P.O. Box 21311, Washington, DC 20009.

KCA’s 2017 officers are: Denis James, President; Robert Ellsworth, Vice President; Bonnie Rowan, Secretary; Larry Hargrove, Delegate to the Federation of Civic Associations; and Jean Stewart, Delegate to the Federation of Citizens Associations.

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